Henry Morgentaler (1923-2013)

Morgentaler was a general practitioner in Canada. He not only performed abortions when doing so was still illegal, but admitted to it and campaigned publicly for legalisation. His courage and dedication over many years landed him an eighteen-month jail sentence. In the end, he achieved more than just legalisation: the abortion law was struck from the Canadian statute books in 1988 without substitution and abortion is no longer subject to criminal law in Canada.



Does Anybody Care?

You were desperate

And nobody cared

Except me ...


I helped you.

Now you are fine and healthy

And I am pacing my cell

Boxed in by thick walls.

Why don’t you shout it to the judge

Who sentenced me

Who called me an anarchist

And a danger to society –

Would he have helped you?


Are you willing to stay in my cell

Instead of me?

Are you willing to stay in my cell

And provide me with solace and comfort?


I thought I had the power

To fight the state;

I was sure I was invulnerable

Because I was helping people, you see?

Who could possibly be against that?


In my pride and self-satisfaction

I was blind to the forces of Darkness,

Believing that Justice and Humanity will triumph.

In underestimated the Power of Evil

And the determination of black-robed eunuchs

To castrate me.


In times of need I was there to help you -

Now that I am in need of help

Are you there?

Does anybody care for me?


Will you let your enemies and mine

Crush me, ruin me, besmirch me,

Deprive me of touching my lover for a second,

Of holding the hands of my children?


I loved helping you

And I do not regret it –

It gave me as much pleasure to help you

As it gave you surcease form worry and stress.


I felt good and powerful and unique in this crazy world

Where helping people needing help is a crime.


I do not hold it against you

That you want to live your private life.

Forget my help and forget me –

I did my thing and was content.


There is a price to be paid

For challenging the established Order and Morality –

I will drink my bitter cup.

But it would help me if I knew that you cared

For me just al little bit ...


Henry Morgentaler (written in a depressive mood in Bordeaux Jail)


Quelle: Eleanor Wright Pelrine, Morgentaler – The Doctor Who Couldn’t Turn Away, 1975, ISBN 0-7715-9938-2