July 9, 2008

The Henry Morgentaler Controversy

On July 1, 2008 Dr. Henry Morgentaler was awarded the Order of Canada, which is considered "the highest honor in the land". Morgentaler is a women's rights champion who set up abortion clinics when it was illegal to do so, and in the process, put himself at great risk. You can read more about him here.

In light of this decision, there seemed to be a huge uproar across Canada (at least according to the media). Newspapers called it "divisive", conservative politicians distanced themselves from it and religious groups...well, do I really have to explain? The thing is that the purpose of the award is not to bring the country together or follow any ideological guidelines, the Order is to honor those who "desire a better country". As Morgentaler believed in, fought for and put his life on the line for women's rights, it's very safe to say that he is one that "desire[d] a better country". This is an honor that SHOULD cause some controversy. People who do great things aren't always the most popular people around!

One of the ways that people are protesting is by handing back the Orders that they have received. I think the number is up to 4 handed back now (out of 5,479). One of the more ironic handbacks that has taken place is that of a priest who had been convicted of child molestation (though later pardoned) handing back his Order to protest having been given the same order as Morgentaler. Now THAT's making a statement, isn't it? Geez...

I'm all for protest and outrage, but it's my opinion that people in opposition of this are lacking perspective. The award was given for its intended purpose, plain and simple. Morgentaler desired a better country and did what he had to do to create it. He deserves the award as much as anyone.

No comments:

Post a Comment