The Politics of Abortion in the United States and Canada: A Comparative Study

By Raymond Tatalovich | Go to book overview

Introduction

Cross-Cultural Research on Abortion

The development of abortion policy in Canada and the United States offers a unique opportunity for cross-cultural research. Though Canada is a constitutional monarchy and the United States is a democratic republic, both were originally founded as English colonies. The Americans openly rebelled against British authority in the late eighteenth century, created a constitution with great potential for a national government, but later added the Bill of Rights, which circumscribed national authority and reflected the strength of libertarian values. Canada did not formally separate from the English Commonwealth until the mid-twentieth century, though the queen of England "continues to be Canada's monarch" (Jackson and Jackson 1994, 186), and only recently—in 1982—did the Constitution Act establish the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as part of Canada's fundamental law.

Both governments are federal systems, and the recent narrow defeat of a separatist referendum in Quebec recalls to mind the bloody civil war that erupted when southern states seceded from the United States. Indeed, the linguistic rivalries between francophone Quebec and the rest of English‐ speaking Canada overlie more fundamental sovereignty issues about provincial self-government, notably a "special status" for Quebec, which may become more volatile than the racial animosities between whites and African-Americans in the United States. So quite different political consequences may result from the fractures in the Canadian polity.

The end of the Civil War saw a sustained nationalization of American politics as the federal government gained power at the expense of states' rights and, moreover, when the Supreme Court came to exercise a policy‐

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