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Judge Rules Woman Can Have Abortion Though Boyfriend Objects

July 23, 1988

TORONTO (AP) _ A Canadian provincial court in a landmark ruling on Friday rejected an Edmonton man’s bid to prevent his former girlfriend from having an abortion.

But Justice Joanne Viet of Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench acknowledged the rights of a father of an unborn child by ruling that Randy Mock, 25, could sue 18-year-old Michelle Brandanburg for damages.

Mock obtained a temporary injunction to prevent Ms. Brandanburg from proceeding with the abortion, but that injunction expired on Thursday.

When it did, Ms. Brandanburg’s lawyer told reporters, her client went to the United States and got an abortion.

″It’s devastating,″ said Mock, who had claimed father’s rights and wanted to raise the child on his own.

He said he would pursue the case for damages. ″I’ve come this far ... I’ve just lost my child and it’s not going to die in vain.″

The decision came as Parliament wrestled with the abortion issue following a controversial Supreme Court decision last January, striking down Canada’s restrictive abortion law.

Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s Conservative government said debate will begin next week on compromise legislation that would permit easy access to abortions early in a pregnancy but impose restrictions in later stages.

Anti-abortion and pro-choice groups had used the Edmonton case to back their arguments, and both sides claimed victory.

″Every step along the way in cases like this are important for women,″ said defense attorney Donna Oliver Dyck, who represented Ms. Brandanburg and argued that a woman should have control of her own body.

Mock’s lawyer, Rosanna Saccomani, said the judge acknowledged the merits of her client’s case by saying he had the right to sue for damages. Ms. Saccomani told the court the couple lived together 18 months and had a verbal agreement as a common-law couple last February to stop using contraceptives so they could have a child.

″There was an intention to create a child ... that was what the parties wanted. She should continue with her obligations.″

She said the relationship broke up in June because of opposition from Ms. Brandanburg’s family. By then, Ms. Brandanburg was pregnant. Her lawyer argued that Mock’s request for a permanent injunction to prevent the abortion was ″ludicrous″ since he had no rights as the father of an unborn child.

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