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Bertram Barney Wainer (1928–1987)

Leading Australian abortion-law reformer Dr Bertram Wainer has died in Victoria at the age of 58.

The Scottish-born doctor opened the country's first publicly promoted fertility control clinic in Melbourne in the early 1970s.

Dr Wainer, a former Australian Army doctor, began his abortion-reform campaign in 1967 after opening a general practice in the Melbourne bayside suburb of St Kilda.

He worked to bring to public attention the practices of the backyard abortion industry because of the number of women needing medical attention after illegal terminations.

Dr Wainer performed several medical terminations and then invited the police to arrest and charge him.

No charges were laid, but his actions led to a state Government inquiry into the abortion rackets in the late 1960s, with 32 police charged with bribery, corruption and misconduct.

He opened his clinic in East Melbourne and became the target of large-scale anti-abortion protests which reached their height between 1970 and 1972.

The Right to Life movement has maintained its protests outside the East Melbourne clinic which now has a medical staff of about 40.

Dr Wainer has been the subject of death threats and property damage while campaigning for abortion on demand and running the clinic.

A family spokesman said Dr Wainer had undergone three heart by-pass operations in recent years.

He is survived by his wife Jo and daughter Zoe and four children from his first marriage.

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Citation details

'Wainer, Bertram Barney (1928–1987)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 28 May 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


30 December, 1928
Edinburgh, Mid-Lothian, Scotland


16 January, 1987 (aged 58)
Glenlofty, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death

heart disease

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Military Service
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