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Morgentaler performed 14 abortions at his clinic in Halifax and then later died of heart conditions. He continuously advocated for women’s right to autonomy.


1. If the Criminal Code violates the rights and freedoms guaranteed by ss. 7, 11(d), 11(f), 11(h), and 24(1) of the Charter.

2. If such a violation occurs, whether it is justifiable under s. 1 of the Charter


Appeal allowed with 5-2 in favor, McIntyre and La Forest JJ dissenting.


Dicks determines that a woman's s.7 rights to security of person were infringed upon by the section, mainly because of the dangers associated with the various procedures that people go through because they cannot get abortions in hospitals. He also says that the mental anguish caused violated the Charter, which was a new idea.

After it has been determined that the section was infringed upon, it must be determined if it was done in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice under s.1. The Crown fails to prove that the principle is reasonably justified in Canada because it leads to arbitrary medical standards across the country. Therefore, the infringement is not saved by s.1.

The court struck the offending section from the Code as arbitrary and unconstitutional. The court is careful to explain that this decision is not about the permissiveness of abortions in general, but rather only whether the government's chosen method of prohibiting abortion violates the Charter.

Wilson found that the Code provision violated women's rights to liberty, rather than security of person, and concurred with the majority's opinion.


  • Section 251 of the Code (now s.287) violates a woman's right to security of person, and thus is of no force or effect.
  • Arbitrariness in medical standards is not reasonably justified