There’s been a lot of commentary around the recent announcement by Ontario’s Liberal attorney general that legislation creating “bubble zones” around the province’s abortion clinics will soon be tabled. The Liberals are claiming, with utmost solemnity, that this restriction of free speech is necessary due to the “harassment” and “abuse” women are suffering while going to procure abortions. Even though the attorney general framed his case at a press release in the most dramatic terms, the only alleged example he could come up with was a man spitting on someone outside an abortion clinic. I find that to be dubious, but if it’s true, there are plenty of legal avenues to address the event. The reality is that the Ontario government is reclassifying silent prayer and offers of alternatives and assistance as “harassment” in order to create legislation that is entirely unnecessary.
The Liberals are doing this, of course, because they would rather make Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown miserable than discuss their abysmal economic record and rock-bottom poll numbers. Brown, who never possessed any principles to begin with, is more than happy to offload those he was pretending to possess and promptly offered to help the Liberals pass their bill. In a move so cynical that even commentators sympathetic to the bill were outraged, the Liberals refused, clearly wanting to draw the issue out and create a further rift between already dissatisfied Ontario pro-life voters and Patrick Brown, who is hoping they’ll swallow hard and vote for him anyway.
The only reason I decided to write about the bubble zones is because there is a perverse irony in the insinuations of the Ontario government that pro-lifers verbally harass, if not physically assault, abortion workers and those seeking abortions. This is false. In fact, the reverse is quite true: Right across the nation, pro-life Canadians who seek to peacefully express the truth about abortion are subjected, on a regular basis, to a torrent of physical and verbal abuse that is utterly ignored by the media and the government.
In 2013, for example, a woman standing peacefully at Life Chain in Toronto was assaulted by a man who beat her before drawing a knife. You probably didn’t hear about that in the mainstream media—but you can bet that if something like that happened in the vicinity of an abortion clinic, it would be the leading news for days. At the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, we’ve had our signs slashed by knives over a dozen times. We’ve had drinks thrown at us, including hot coffee. We’ve been shoved, kicked, and had our property smashed or stolen. One of our cars had the tires slashed, and the vandal spray-painted “I *heart* Dead Babies” on the hood. I could go on and on.
In a show of profound cowardice and hypocrisy, it is often is the young female activists that are attacked—my sister has a restraining order against a man who showed up at one of our displays on his Harley, grabbed one of our cameras, and threatened violence. One of my female friends in Toronto was punched by a middle-aged man simply for sidewalk-chalking pro-life messages. Verbal abuse—ranging from the “c-word” to insults so vile I will not repeat them here—are so commonplace that many of us don’t notice them anymore. Pro-lifers from other organizations could tell you many stories of their own.
To be clear: I’m not complaining about this. As pro-life activists, we expect a culture that has become hostile to the truth to respond at times with violence when confronted with the truth about what Canada does to three hundred tiny pre-born children every single day. We have no desire to posture as victims, because we are not victims. It is our task to stand for the unseen victims of Canada’s abortion industry, and we have been blessed beyond measure to see innumerable lives saved and minds changed, and to receive the tearful gratitude of women who received the truth and offers of help just in time—the very truth and very offers Ontario’s provincial government now seeks to make illegal. Every social reform movement in history has faced pushback from authorities and members of the public who wish to preserve the status quo, and the pro-life movement is no different.
But that being said, it was hard not to give a cynical laugh when the Ontario government announced unnecessary laws to restrict free speech to protect people from pro-lifers—the one group of Canadians that is routinely targeted more than any other. I know, of course, why violence against pro-lifers is ignored—because the government and a certain segment of the pro-choice public couldn’t care less if we get harassed and abused. In fact, many of them tell us straight out that we deserve it for presenting to the public a point of view that they would like to see silenced. If anyone reading this doesn’t believe me, we have many of these instances on video and would be happy to prove it—even though it shouldn’t surprise them. After all, abortion in Canada is legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy—the only Western democracy that countenances no restrictions on abortion whatsoever, and is now trying to silence those who point that out.
I’ll reiterate: Canadian pro-life activists feel extraordinarily privileged to be able to stand for the countless Canadian children are snuffed out before they ever get a chance to speak. We are so grateful to be able to meet, over and over again, children who smile and wave and breathe joy into the lives of those around them, children who would be tiny corpses cooling in dumpsters behind abortion clinics if their mothers had not been told the truth and offered alternatives. Every day, we see members of the public—sometimes even those who approached us with threats and verbal abuse—change their minds. And that is why the Liberals want to silence pro-lifers with slanders and defamation: Because they know that the truth about the violence of abortion is a powerful, potent message—and one that must be legislated out of existence for their feeble lies and posturing to survive.