Abortion a public concern

By 
  • April 24, 2008

{mosimage}TORONTO - Lining the sidewalk across from a crisis pregnancy centre and its abortion clinic neighbour in downtown Toronto April 18, 24 people held signs up to passing traffic with messages related to abortion.

The group of men and women, who ranged in age from 13 to 74, were joined by Fr. Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life in the United States, who led them in a mid-afternoon prayer vigil.

“Our message to them is there’s hope, there’s help and we’re on your side,” Pavone said.

Most signs read, “A pregnant women needs support, not abortion.” However, five women held signs with a more personal statement of “I regret my abortion.”

In an interview before the vigil, Pavone said the public gathering was important for three reasons: to proclaim abortion as a public matter, to encourage other pro-life individuals in their choice and to witness to their commitment to justice.

“The reason why abortion continues in so many countries throughout the world is that it is largely hidden from view,” Pavone said. “So coming out and praying like this in a public manner reminds us that it is a matter of public concern and not simply a question of private choice.”

The event was co-sponsored by the Aid to Women crisis pregnancy centre, which is next door to the Cabbagetown women’s clinic where abortions are performed.

Although the hour-long event drew some negative responses from passersby who yelled insults, many drivers offered support by honking their horns and waving. Also, a few people joined in with the litany response of “Lord Have Mercy” as they hurried past.

A middle-aged man stood on the road and shouted at the group for several minutes with his disapproval. His rants died down, however, once a few of the demonstrators coaxed him off the street and out of the way of passing cars to discuss the issue face to face. He continued to discuss with them in more subdued tones, and eventually expressed that he did not like the group’s methods of stirring awareness.

“Once he explained his own experience with abortion, he became more docile,” said Theresa Smyth, executive director of Aid to Women. “Some of the ladies here used to react just in that way. It’s more common than we think for people who had a personal experience with abortion, and sometimes several, to begin the healing process with an initial manifestation of hostility.”

Pavone continued to speak about this issue in a talk he gave the next day at the Lift Jesus Higher Rally at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

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