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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

No Place for the State

The Origins and Legacies of the 1969 Omnibus Bill

“There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation,” Pierre Elliott Trudeau told reporters. He was making the case for the most controversial of his proposed reforms to the Criminal Code, those concerning homosexuality, birth control, and abortion.
In No Place for the State, contributors offer complex and often contrasting perspectives as they assess how the 1969 Omnibus Bill helped shape sexual and moral politics in Canada by examining the bill’s origins, social implications, and repercussions. The new legal regime had significant consequences in such areas as adoption, divorce, and suicide. After the bill passed, a great many Canadians continued to challenge how sexual behaviour was governed; and feminist and gay liberation activists took the reforms as a starting point, demanding much more exhaustive changes to the law.
Fifty years later, there is no definitive story of the Omnibus Bill and its origins and legacies are equivocal. The state still seems interested in the bedrooms of the nation, and this incisive study explains why that matters.

264 pages | 6 x 9

Table of Contents

Introduction / Christopher Dummitt and Christabelle Sethna
Part 1: Regulation, Rupture and Continuity
1 Because It’s 1969: The Omnibus Bill and the New Morality of the Self / Christopher Dummitt
2 “Is Abortion Ever Right?”: The United Church of Canada and the Debate over Abortion Law Reform, 1960–80 / Bruce Douville, Katrina Ackerman and Shannon Stettner
3 Not a Gift from Above: The Mythology of Homosexual Law Reform and the Making of Neo-Liberal Queer Histories / Gary Kinsman
Part 2: Activist Responses
4 “The State’s Key to the Bedroom Door”: Queer Perspectives on Pierre Trudeau’s “Just Society” in an Era of Bathhouse Raids / Tom Hooper
5 Law Reform, Liberal Democracies, and Transnational Histories of Gay Liberation / Scott deGroot
6 Seeing Red: The Toronto Women’s Caucus, RCMP Surveillance and the Campaign to Repeal the 1969 Abortion Law / Christabelle Sethna and Steve Hewitt
Part 3: Beyond the Omnibus Bill
7 Insulated from the Law: Married Women, the Pill, and the “Public Good” / Jessica Haynes
8 “Something More”: The State’s Place in the Bedrooms of the Lesbian Nation / Karen Pearlston
9 Life Interrupted: The Biopolitics of Abortion and Attempted Suicide in Canada in the Late Sixties and Early Seventies / Isabelle Perrault
Part 4: Back to the Future
10 The Law (and) Unintended Consequences: Adoption and the Omnibus Bill of 1969 / Lori Chambers
11 Is that really necessary? The regulation of abortion in Canada and the framework of medical necessity / Rachael Johnstone

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