Police and justice officials in the town of Lindsay, northeast of Toronto are playing hardball with local pro-lifers.
Bowing to a handful of public complaints, Lindsay police October 18 confiscated four large signs showing the remains of aborted children. The signs were part of a protest outside Ross Memorial Hospital, the scene of pro-life protests over the last two years.
According to Rosemary Connell, one of the protesters whose signs were taken by police, it is the graphic images on the signs that has upset police and some townspeople.
“We used to display signs with words on them, and no one objected,” she said. “But once we brought out the posters, the complaints started up.”
Pro-lifers, particularly those supporting the recent Show the Truth tour, have taken to displaying graphic images of aborted children to bypass what they say is the media’s blackout of the true nature of abortion. During the summer, a member of the Show the Truth tour was arrested in St. Thomas, Ontario for displaying what was termed “obscene material.”
Connell said the police action was the latest round in a simmering battle between pro-lifers and the general public in Lindsay. She said that since May, 1997, police had received six complaints from the public about the graphic nature of the signs.
An article in the October 25 edition of the Lindsay Daily Post described one local resident who could not drive her car in the area for fear that the signs would upset her children. The article also quoted local pro-lifer Janice Swanson who said the protesters are within their rights in conducting a non-violent, silent witness.
The Lindsay Daily Post printed a letter earlier in the summer from a woman who supported the protest. She described the signs as “a wake up to the realities of abortion.”
The October 25 warrant for confiscating the pro-life signs was signed by Justice of the Peace Diane Jackson of Toronto. She and Crown Attorney David Thompson will determine if the signs constitute “disgusting objects.”
The Crown now must lay charges of displaying a disgusting object, or return the signs within 90 days. A hearing date had not been set by November 4.
Connell said pro-lifers anticipated some form of police response to their protest. In mid-September, two Lindsay police officers confronted the protesters outside the hospital. The police demanded identification and warned the group that they could face future charges.
Connell said it is ironic that pro-lifers can be harassed and threatened with obscenity charges for displaying photos of a