Real World Events

Looking for Jane Events

1869
Canada formally bans abortion.
1945
The first maternity homes open in the post-war era.
1960
Health Canada approves the birth control pill.
Maggie and Evelyn arrive at St. Agnes’s Home for Unwed Mothers.
1961
Jane is born on April 25.
1969
Canada passes the Criminal Law Amendment Act, which legalizes abortion in certain—very limited—circumstances. A Therapeutic Abortion Committee of doctors is required to approve the abortion.
1970
The Abortion Caravan travels across Canada, raising awareness about abortion access; they arrive in Ottawa on Mother’s Day weekend to protest in the House of Commons. Their protest caused the Speaker to shut down the House of Commons for the first time in Canadian history.
Evelyn attends the rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa and helps deliver the symbolic coffin to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s house. She takes part in the protest inside the House of Commons.
1971
Maternity homes begin to close as unplanned pregnancies are on the decline due to greater access to birth control options, but some remain open into the 1980s.
Evelyn opens her clinic in Toronto and begins providing abortion services after hours. She and Alice join the Jane Network.
1973
Dr. Henry Morgentaler states publicly that he is performing abortions at his clinic in Montreal without the permission of the Therapeutic Abortion Committees.

In the United States, Roe v. Wade strikes down bans on abortion in the first trimester as unconstitutional; as a result, many Canadian women travel to the US to access abortion procedures.
1974
Dr. Henry Morgentaler is prosecuted twice by the Province of Quebec; both juries refuse to convict him. The Quebec Court of Appeal overturns one of the acquittals, and Morgentaler serves eighteen months in jail. He is eventually acquitted at a third trial, at which point the Government of Quebec declares the anti-abortion law unenforceable.
1977
The Badgley Report is released, confirming that abortion access is patchy and inequitable across Canada.
1980
Nancy discovers she is adopted.
1981
Nancy undergoes an abortion, and Evelyn’s clinic is raided by police.
1983
Dr. Henry Morgentaler is attacked by a man wielding garden shears; he is spared any injury by intervention from abortion rights activist Judy Rebick. The same year, protesters attempt to bomb his clinic. No one is injured.
Evelyn visits St. Sebastian’s (formerly St. Agnes’s) and runs into Nancy, who requests to join the Janes.
1984
Dr. Henry Morgentaler is acquitted by a jury for a fourth time, this time in Ontario.
An undercover police operation results in the raid on the Jane's clinic.
1987
A police officer comes to the Janes for an abortion when she is denied a legal one by the Therapeutic Abortion Committee.
1988
In the landmark R. v. Morgentaler case, the Supreme Court of Canada strikes down the abortion regulation restricting abortion to limited circumstances; the regulation is said to violate a woman’s right to ‘security of the person’ under Section 7 of the newly enacted Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Abortion is now legal at any stage in a woman’s pregnancy.
The Janes shut down their undercover operation now that abortion is fully legalized.
1990
The Government of Canada under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney introduces a bill to re-criminalize abortion. The bill passes the House of Commons, but dies in the Senate in 1991.

The Government of Alberta and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador are penalized for allowing private billing at abortion clinics. After that, the provinces agree to fully fund the clinics.


1992
Dr. Henry Morgentaler’s Toronto clinic is firebombed. No one is injured.
2008
Health Canada approves Plan B (levonorgestrel), a.k.a. the ‘morning after’ pill, to be freely available on drugstore shelves, as opposed to requiring a doctor’s prescription or being kept behind the pharmacy counter. This is very big news, since the effectiveness of the pill is highly time-sensitive (95 percent effective at preventing pregnancy if taken within twenty-four hours).
2010
Frances dies and sends Nancy the letter confessing to her adoption. Nancy never receives it.
2013
The Australian Government issues a formal apology to survivors of its maternity homes and those impacted by forced adoption.
2015
The Government of Canada approves the use of the ‘abortion pill’ (Mifegymiso). Doctors can prescribe and dispense it directly to patients for use at home within the first several weeks of pregnancy. This is a big deal for women in parts of the country where surgical abortion access is unavailable.
2016
Women in Prince Edward Island finally get access to abortion services.
2017
Ontario enacts the Safe Access to Abortion Services Act, which establishes ‘safe zones’ around clinics providing abortion services. Protesters can’t come within a certain distance of the clinic. In the same year, the federal Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science, and Technology begins its hearings on the maternity home system and forced adoption practices. The committee hears from mothers and children who were impacted by the system.
Angela discovers Frances’s lost letter.
2018
The Senate committee releases a report entitled The Shame Is Ours, outlining reparations for survivors of Canada’s maternity homes. They give the government one year in which to enact the recommendations. The government takes no action.
2021
Ireland issues a formal apology to survivors of its maternity homes.
2022
No level of government in Canada has yet acknowledged or apologized for its role in systematically separating over 300,000 mothers from their children through coercion, threat, or force throughout the postwar period.