Canada – Decriminalizing Abortion: A Journey Towards Access and Equity

Dec 6, 2023
Written by Clare Szalay Timbo, Executive Director at The SexEd Justice Project, and Andrea Rodriguez, Policy and Advocacy Officer at Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights

In 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the country’s abortion law as unconstitutional, asserting that it violated women’s Charter rights to the security of the person. Since then, abortion has been removed from the Criminal Code and is treated and regulated as a medical procedure. Canada stands out globally as one of only a few countries without specific legal restrictions on abortion.

The full decriminalization of abortion is a critical step towards recognition that abortion is a fundamental human right and ensuring universal access to abortion care. Importantly, decriminalizing abortion preserves legal protections for harms against pregnant people, such as forced abortions or other types of physical harm.