Real World Events

Looking for Jane Events

Canada formally bans abortion.
The first maternity homes open in the post-war era.
Health Canada approves the birth control pill.
Maggie and Evelyn arrive at St. Agnes’s Home for Unwed Mothers.
Jane is born on April 25.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Badgley Report is released, confirming that abortion access is patchy and inequitable across Canada.
Nancy discovers she is adopted.
Nancy undergoes an abortion, and Evelyn’s clinic is raided by police.
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.
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.
A police officer comes to the Janes for an abortion when she is denied a legal one by the Therapeutic Abortion Committee.
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.
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.

Dr. Henry Morgentaler’s Toronto clinic is firebombed. No one is injured.
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).
Frances dies and sends Nancy the letter confessing to her adoption. Nancy never receives it.
The Australian Government issues a formal apology to survivors of its maternity homes and those impacted by forced adoption.
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.
Women in Prince Edward Island finally get access to abortion services.
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.
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.
Ireland issues a formal apology to survivors of its maternity homes.
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.