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Can Bull Med Hist. 2012;29(1):151-71.

"He is still unwanted": women's assertions of authority over abortion in letters to the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada.


Throughout the 1960s, the public abortion debate was dominated by men. While women's voices were not absent, they are harder to locate. This article highlights one forum in which women eloquently expressed their feelings about abortion. In submissions to the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada, women demonstrated their "right" to speak on the issue in many ways, including by sharing their experiences as mothers or with unplanned and unwanted pregnancies; referencing their professional lives, especially in care giving fields; and drawing moral authority from or opposing religious beliefs. This article analyzes women's efforts to convey their authority to speak to the legality of abortion, highlighting a component of the 1960s abortion law reform discussion often overlooked.

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