Daigle v. Tremblay

Chantal Daigle and Jean-Guy Tremblay ended their relationship after five months of cohabitation.  The appellant, Daigle, was 18 weeks pregnant at the time of the separation and decided to terminate her pregnancy.  The respondent, Tremblay, the father of the unborn child, obtained an interlocutory injunction from the Superior Court preventing her from having the abortion.  The trial judge found that a foetus is a “human being” under the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms (“Quebec Charter”) and therefore enjoys a “right to life” under section 1.  The trial judge concluded this was in harmony with the Quebec Civil Code‘s recognition of the foetus as a juridical person and ruled that the respondent had the necessary “interest” to request the injunction.  The trial judge also concluded, after considering the effect of the injunction on Daigle’s rights under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and section 1 of the Quebec Charter, that the foetus’ right to life should prevail.  The injunction was upheld by a majority of the Court of Appeal.

LEAF was granted intervener status and argued, based on the reasons of Justices Bernier, Nichols and Lebel from R v. Morgentaler, [1988] 1 SCC 30: “A women’s relation to the foetus is unique and inseparable: what happens to it, happens to her. He who controls it, controls her, as this case makes abundantly clear. Indeed, this case is an example of an attempt to control the woman through controlling the foetus. Several justices misconstrue this case as a conflict between the mother and the foetus. It is a conflict between a woman and a man over that woman’s body, life and relation to her foetus.”

Please find LEAF’s Factum here.

The Supreme Court of Canada allowed Daigle’s appeal: “The injunction is set aside because the substantive rights which are alleged to support it — the rights accorded to a foetus or a potential father — do not exist.”

Please find the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision here.