Demonstrators mourn abortion 'horror'

  • February 1, 2008

{mosimage}The 20th anniversary of the Morgentaler decision that left Canada without any laws restricting abortion was both mourned and celebrated in the nation’s capital.

While most pro-life organizations marked Jan. 28 with low key information campaigns and a flurry of press releases, Carleton University’s pro-life group LifeLine organized a small demonstration on Parliament Hill, using large pictures of aborted fetuses from the Genocide Awareness Project run by the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

“There are some horrors in this world that cannot be adequately expressed using words,” said Lifeline member Nicholas McLeod. “You do not truly comprehend what the horror of abortion actually is unless you see it.”

A national pro-life group with a much more toned-down message was shocked when some cities took down their paid advertisements. LifeCanada, a national umbrella organization for dozens of educational pro-life groups, had mounted a poster and billboard campaign in several cities, mainly targeting bus shelters. Their poster, showing a pregnant woman with an image of a baby superimposed on her belly, called attention to the fact that there is no legal restriction on abortion for the whole nine months of pregnancy and asks, “Have we gone too far?”

Fredericton City Council refused to allow ads, as did Kelowna, B.C. The local pro-life group had to rent a billboard outside city limits. St. John’s, Nfld.’s transit authority took the ads down the previous weekend. Hamilton City Council and the city’s transit authority took the ads down after a city councillor called the posters “offensive” and the city received a handful of complaints. That decision is being reconsidered.

“I’m very concerned about freedom of speech, especially in this campaign when we’re really trying to open debate,” said LifeCanada executive director Gudrun Schultz. She pointed out the ads were respectful and merely asked Canadians a question.

“To shut that down is to say it’s not something that’s appropriate to talk about,” Schultz said. “It’s very alarming, where our openness to free speech is going in Canada.”

Schultz also pointed to how some student councils on university campuses have moved to bar pro-life groups from receiving any support, funding or privileges to leaflet or publicize their events. Thunder Bay, Ont.’s Lakehead University’s student union is the latest. The Lakehead University student union (LUSU) made a motion to “withhold any and all funds, space, resources and services within its control from any group . . . if that group holds any aim, principle, belief, goal, etc. that is anti-choice in nature, explicit or implicit.”

“This is another example of the LUSU using their power to dictate who may enjoy the freedom of expression and speech on campus, and who is deemed inferior because of their beliefs,” said Cathy Simons, president of the pro-life group Life Support in a Jan. 28 news release.

Schultz said often it’s only a small number of people who say “we don’t want to hear this message,” thus preventing the general public from hearing it.

While tactics varied, all pro-life groups mourned the decision. About two million abortions have taken place in the past 20 years. Canadian Physicians for Life issued a Jan. 28 news release warning of the abortion health risks and the lack of informed consent in Canada.

“The world literature is replete with the reported increased risk of infertility, breast cancer and subsequent premature delivery and its associated higher rate of cerebral palsy after an earlier abortion,” said the organization’s news release.

Meanwhile, a coalition of pro-abortion groups under the banner of Canadians for Choice held a sparsely attended news conference on Parliament Hill to announce a year of celebrations to mark the Supreme Court decision. They also warned of problems with access to abortion in various regions of the country and described the warnings of health risks and post-abortion depression as “scare tactics” and “fear mongering.” And Planned Parenthood Ottawa staged a lunch-hour demonstration that gathered some of the veterans of the “abortion rights” movement outside the Morgentaler clinic.

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