Pro-life activist Linda Gibbons cradles newborn grandson, Marshall. Gibbons visited him and granddaughter, Kayla, soon after being released from prison on June 3 after a 28-month stay.

Linda Gibbons unrepentant for challenging abortion

  • June 29, 2011

TORONTO - Long-time pro-life activist Linda Gibbons called for Canadians to stand up against abortion and protest the curtailing of pro-lifers’ freedom of expression on abortion at the June 25 Toronto Pro-life Forum hosted by Campaign Life Coalition.

Gibbons said a “critical indignation” was needed to protest Canada’s abortion laws that are “promoting crimes against humanity.”

She also slammed the 1994 Ontario Supreme Court injunction barring pro-life activists from picketing, sidewalk counselling and interfering with access to abortion services or the “economic interests” of downtown Toronto clinics, a law that has led to her being arrested 20 times and imprisoned for 10 of the past 17 years.

“They are interfering with my freedom and I am offended by that,” she told the crowd of 185 participants at the Hotel Novotel who attended the two-day conference.

“In a free society, freedom of speech is a critical element. Why are we arrested for words when acts of murder are committed there?”

Gibbons was recently released from prison after Ontario Court Justice Mara Beth Greene granted her lawyer’s application requesting that Gibbons be released without conditions. The Supreme Court of Canada will hear Gibbons’ case in December challenging the Crown’s use of the criminal courts to prosecute Gibbons for violating the temporary injunction.

On Canada’s absence of legal restrictions on abortion, Gibbons called this unacceptable.

“There has to be a point that we say we can no longer live with abortion,” she said.

Canada currently does not have legal restrictions on abortion which means that a woman can seek an abortion at any time of her pregnancy, including up to the ninth month.

Gibbons also brought up the controversial decision in 2008 to award an Order of Canada to abortion doctor Henry Morgentaler.

“Putting a white jacket on a killer doesn’t make (anyone) a doctor,” she told the crowd.

Meanwhile, Gibbons expressed indignation at the police’s lack of response during the 2009 Tamil protests which drew thousands to Toronto’s downtown core, while she sat in jail for her actions. Some protesters even flew the flag of the Tamil Tigers, which is classified as a terrorist group by the Canadian government. None of the protesters were arrested.

Gibbons recalled how she was in prison and watching the news when the Toronto police chief told the media that police were respecting people’s “right to protest.”

On the future of her activism, Gibbons said she has often been asked by prison staff, “Aren’t you tired yet?” The 62-year-old great-grandmother responds, “No, I’m not tired yet,” to loud applause.

“We are there to defend life ... to give women hope and joy, to let them know they are valuable, that their children are valuable,” Gibbons said of the pro-life movement.

After her speech, some youth attending the conference said Gibbons’ message hit home. Emma Coates, a 23-year-old university student from Hamilton, Ont., said Gibbons is an inspiration because her example shows “the potential that we as youth hope to aspire to.”

“(Gibbons) is choosing to go to the extreme to drive home a crucial point,” said Coates.

Liz Millican, 27, of Toronto, said hearing Gibbons’ message reaffirms her pro-life view. Millican plans to run for the Family Coalition Party in the October provincial election and will have a pro-life election platform. She acknowledges this can be a “risky” move.

After announcing her candidacy, Millican was counselled by a relative not to say she is pro-life.

But Millican said hearing the stories of women who’ve had an abortion and said they regretted it have made an impact.

“How can you ignore these women?” she asked.

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