Pro-life political prisoner Linda Gibbons has added a powerful voice in her one-woman challenge of the Ontario injunction against pro-life demonstrations.
New York defense attorney John Broderick, best known for defending Joan Andrews and other Operation Rescue participants in the late-1980s, officially joined Gibbons’ defense in early January. Broderick also gained a reputation by defending several members of the Lambs of Christ, an elite corps of dedicated pro-life activists.
A 36-year veteran of courtroom battles, Broderick has handled more than 9,000 cases since being called to the pro-life movement in 1988.
“I guess you could say I developed the pro-life flu,” Broderick told The Interim during a January 9 visit to Toronto. “I didn’t start out to be a pro-life defender, but the Joan Andrews case really brought me on board. Once you get in, you never leave.”
While in the Toronto area, Broderick visited Gibbons at the Vanier Institute for Women in Brampton. At the time, Gibbons agreed to allow Broderick to act in her defense. Gibbons has been without defense counsel at all previous court appearances.
Admittedly, Gibbons is not the easiest of clients for any defense attorney. She refuses to recognize the legitimacy of the injunction against pro-life demonstrations. To show solidarity with unborn children lost to abortion, Gibbons remains completely mute during court appearances and while picketing in front of Toronto abortuaries.
Broderick believes there is at least one new legal approach, which will assist Gibbons in fighting the injunction.
Gibbons was released January 17 after serving the latest of her 60-day sentences for obstructing a peace officer and violating probation. She is one of 18 Ontario pro-life supporters stung by the injunction against demonstrations at abortuaries and hospitals.
She was re-arrested January 22 after resuming a silent protest outside the Scott abortuary in Toronto. Prior to her arrest, Gibbons told supporters that Broderick is well acquainted with the injunction and that he plans to reveal in court how the Ontario Attorney-General’s office is “playing games” with the charges.
Broderick was invited to look into the Linda Gibbons case by Helen and Mary Burnie of Toronto, who felt Gibbons deserves the best legal defense available. The Burnie sisters were aware of Broderick’s extensive pro-life legal work in the U.S. They first contacted Broderick in 1994 when Gibbons faced another in a long string of legal hurdles.
“There was some concern about my practicing in a Canadian courtroom, but it was just a matter of getting permission to do so,” Broderick said
Pro-life leaders throughout North America are confident Gibbons has gained a powerful advocate in Broderick. Joe Scheildler, executive director of the Pro-life Action League in Chicago, described Broderick as “the John Wayne of pro-life defenders.”
“He’s a real cowboy,” Scheildler said. “He’s someone who doesn’t care about popularity. He’s out to win the battle to protect the unborn child.”