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Women’s rights in Canada have greatly improved and accustomed to the needs of women in the last semi-century. Treating women equally, advocating feminist behaviors, and allowing them to have control over their bodies has gone from being inappropriate and deemed taboo to being predominantly normalized and encouraged in the present. Canada continues to strive for feminism today. Changes in Canadian legislation concerning women’s rights such as birth control, no-fault divorce, and abortion positively improved the lives of Canadian women from the 1960s to the present.

There are many impactful rights that Canadian women were introduced to, one of them being birth control. Birth control was becoming more accepted in the 1960s, especially after 1963, when Canadian birth-control activists Barbara and George Cadbury used the objectives of responsible parenthood and population education, to organize the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) with the Vancouver, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Toronto, and Ottawa birth control societies. The introduction of birth control as a right was a slow process but eventually, it allowed women to avoid pursuing unintended or unwanted pregnancies. This task took quite a while until it became more socially acceptable, but with the help of Barbara and George Cadbury and their organization, it slowly started to normalize itself. The public acceptance of birth control also increased after the post-war baby boom. Until birth control was removed from the criminal code in 1969, women were making contraceptives to prevent unwanted and unintended pregnancies. This proved the demand to be real. The legalization of birth control allowed women to avoid pregnancies and avoid unsafe abortions to be performed. The pill was available to women at the doctor’s prescription in early 1957 but only for irregular periods, rarely for pregnancies. This has dramatically changed when comparing it to the present, birth control is now available to women with easy access. The main function of birth control is to control pregnancy, and the law has started to realize that more. It is still acceptable to use birth control for irregular periods but they are now less restrictive and can be used for anything a woman needs. In conclusion, the changes in legislation concerning birth control positively impacted women by allowing them to gain freedom from unintended and unwanted pregnancies, allowing for fewer unsafe abortions to be performed, and allowing them to have more control over their lives and bodies.

The introduction of no-fault divorce gave women the right to a fulfilling marriage, the freedom to separate in case of physical or mental abuse, and the advantage of being the first to file a divorce. One year of separation and proof of an unrepairable marriage were the criteria for no-fault divorce. The ability to proceed with a no-fault divorce granted women the choice to leave an unfulfilling marriage and progress into a more fulfilling one if they chose to do so, without the denial of a judge. Having a difficult procedure to obtain a divorce or being denied the divorce discouraged women from filing a separation at all, thus proving this change to be positive. Symptoms of those who have experienced violence or manipulation can include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, self-blame or guilt, feelings of isolation and loneliness, anger, loss of control or feelings of powerlessness, and change in intimacy. The ability to leave an abusive marriage had a largely positive impact. An abusive marriage could have consisted of physical, verbal, and emotional manipulation which would have all traumatized the victim to various extents. Enabling women to file a divorce and choose whether they wanted to remain in an abusive relationship prevented the potential destruction of their well-being. Filing a divorce first ensured that women were prepared with legal documents, a team, expenses, and credit and that they had the choice of where their divorce would be adjudicated. No-fault divorce permitted women to reap the benefits of filing a necessary divorce, first. These benefits would not have been present before the change in legislature, therefore proving the positive impact. Also, filing a divorce first makes women feel individual and free, and that they are equal and important to everyone else. Overall, it may be said that no-fault divorce has positively improved the lives of women in ways like giving them the right to a fulfilling marriage, giving them the freedom to leave an abusive relationship, and freedom to reap the benefits of filing a divorce first.

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Finally, the right to medical abortions positively impacted the lives of women by providing benefits such as the prevention of most abortion-related deaths, the right to a stable and safe family, and the right to dismiss an unintended or unwanted pregnancy. Performing abortions without medical assistance was dangerous and counted for seventeen to twenty percent of maternal deaths from 1926 to 1947. After abortion was criminalized, the rate of abortion-related deaths dropped dramatically. Access to medically assisted abortions lessened the pressure to perform dangerous abortion methods and encouraged the safety of women. Making abortion illegal will only increase unsafe abortions and will lead women to feel like they have no control over their bodies. The legalization of abortion gave women the right to raise a child and grow a family to the best of their ability if they chose to do so. Removing abortion from the criminal code and providing funding for it gave women the right to a stable and healthy family. Without access to abortion, a woman who was not ready for a child, financially, physically, or mentally would have to birth to the child and risk the well-being of her life or her family’s or risk her own life trying to perform an unsafe abortion. Women and their children are deserving of their well-being, so abortion rights give them the choice to keep or terminate the pregnancy. Legalizing abortion gives women the right to terminate an unwanted or unintended pregnancy. When they have access to abortion they can feel like the choices and decisions that they choose to make are valid and that they matter even if they choose to rightfully get an abortion. To conclude, legalizing abortion has positively impacted women by providing benefits such as the prevention of most abortion-related deaths, the right to a stable and safe family, and the right to dismiss an unintended or unwanted pregnancy.

To conclude, birth control, no-fault divorce, and abortion are all connected because these are rights that have strongly helped women’s rights become what they are now. Birth control is very connected to abortion because many women take birth control to control their pregnancies and abortion is used to get rid of an unwanted pregnancy. Women’s rights such as birth control, no-fault divorce, and abortion are all changes in Canadian legislation that have powerfully improved the lives of Canadian women from the 1960s to the present. In the present, Canada continues to transition into a feminist-based society. Abortion rates are rising. More has changed than it has remained the same which is a positive ideology for Canadian women


    1. ‘Birth-control Pill Turns 50 | CBC News.’ CBC news. May 10, 2010. Accessed January 06, 2019. (Secondary Source)
    2. ‘Emotional and Physical Reactions to Violence and Abuse.’ Our Bodies Ourselves. Access’Abortion Issue, Ten Years Later – CBC Archives.’ CBC news. Accessed January 17, 2019 (Primary Source)
    3. Landers, Jeff. ‘What Are The Financial And Legal Advantages Of Being First To File For Divorce?’ Forbes. March 26, 2013. Accessed January 17, 2019. (Secondary Source)
    4. Mary F. Bishop. ‘Birth Control.’ The Canadian Encyclopedia. Accessed January 06, 2019. (Secondary Source)
    5. Mitchell, Penni. Women’s Rights. Nova Scotia: Fernwood Publishing, 2015. (Secondary Source)      


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