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Canada Supreme Court Won’t Rule on Fetus Rights

March 9, 1989

OTTAWA (AP) _ The Supreme Court today refused to decide the issue of whether a fetus has constitutional rights, saying it will not deal with the question while the country has no abortion law.

The court, in a 7-0 ruling, said deciding the issue ″is not in the public interest due to the potential uncertainty″ that could result in the absence of abortion legislation.

Canada has been without an abortion law since January 1988, when the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional Canada’s restrictions on abortion. The lack of a new law has brought abortion-on-demand to many cities and led to angry protests by anti-abortion groups.

Today’s ruling was the result of a case brought last year by anti-abortion activist Joe Borowski.

Borowski, in Winnipeg with a bottle of chilled champagne ready to celebrate, said instead he’d dump it down the toilet or spike it and send it to the judges. ″I’m shocked and disgusted and dismayed,″ he said.

In its eight-page ruling, the court said the government should have moved last year to quash the case.

″Failure to do so has resulted in needless expense″ for Borowski, it said, and it ordered the government to pay his costs.

Karen Murawsky, a lobbyist for the anti-abortionist Campaign Life coalition, agreed the court hasn’t protected the fetus, but she said it hasn’t ruled the fetus doesn’t deserve protection, either. She hopes for a new law.

″The federal government doesn’t need the guidance of the Supreme Court to bring in a good law,″ Ms. Murawsky said.

Norma Scaraborough of the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League told reporters she’s pleased with the decision and hopes the government ″will see we can carry on the way we are and we can leave the situation the way it is.″

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