Despite the good news of saved babies, sidewalk counsellors face many difficulties. But the Aug. 29 incident involving Robert Hinchey, an 18-year-old girl and two representatives of a woman’s shelter was extremely unusual, ending with the pro-life counsellor getting attacked by pepper spray in a hospital.

An immigrant teen Gail (not her real name) changed her mind about getting an abortion after having the laminaria tent which expands the cervix inserted. Gail contacted Aid to Women for help and was taken to the Family Medicine Clinic of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. There, the two were approached by police after the Cabbagetown Women’s Centre filed a complaint about concerns over the teen’s missed appointment. Police determined that the woman was at the medical clinic of her own accord.

Later, two women from a shelter where the teen was staying, approached Hinchey and Gail and, after failing to persuade Gail from leaving with them, forcibly removed the girl from the premises. In the process, Hinchey was pepper sprayed and temporarily blinded. The clinic was temporarily evacuated because a “noxious substance” had been discharged.

Aid to Women was told later that the 18-year-old underwent an abortion at the Cabbagetown abortuary. Pro-lifers are concerned that the teen may have been coerced to have the abortion. In an initial interview with Aid to Women staff, the teen said that both her boyfriend and the shelter were pressuring her to have an abortion, and added suggestions that she would be deported.

On Sept. 12, Carol Ann Trueman, 40, an employee at the Stop 86 women’s shelter, was charged with one count of assault with a weapon. She is scheduled to appear at Toronto’s College Park Court Oct. 28.