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Abortion Rights, Canada, Morgentaler, Supreme Court of Canada


This article engages the transcribed testimony of Carolyn Egan and Janice Patricia Tripp in R v Morgentaler as a critical moment of lawmaking. There is something revealing, often amusing, and sometimes devastating, when a lawyer asks a non-lawyer, in this case, a social worker: “What is the law?” The article focuses on those moments in their testimony when Egan and Tripp answered questions about the 1969 abortion law that made the law itself, its rules and procedures, the subject of examination, and in doing so, constructed new meanings of the law and social action in relation to it in the tradition of critical legal pluralism and its prefigurative politics. Egan and Tripp testified to the power of the 1969 abortion law in the everyday lives of people and used this experience to challenge the idea of law itself and the institutions of its making.