By Ted Gerk
The Interim

The young woman in the photograph demands that no attention be focused on herself. Instead, Mary Wagner’s challenge and focus is the Christian community.

On Tuesday, Aug. 29, Mary was again arrested at the notorious Everywoman’s Health Centre in Vancouver. Her crime? Once again Mary was offering roses to women arriving for their abortion.

Four appearances in court later, she will have spent 50 days in maximum security by the time her trial is heard on Oct. 16 – fifty days in jail for merely handing out roses and prayers for women entering an abortion mill; fifty days for violating British Columbia’s Access to Abortion Services Act, better known as B.C.’s bubble zone law. Also charged with “mischief,” her activities are beginning to be noticed even by the national media.

August 19 began like any other day in British Columbia. Newspaper accounts document B.C.’s ongoing war in the woods, with environmentalists pitted against those whose livelihood is dependent on the forests. Media coverage of this activism is ongoing and detailed.

With no fanfare or notice, a group of five pro-life activists gather for prayer on the Sunday evening before. They are not there to seek glory, conspire to break the law, or even talk of such things. Their quest is one of prayer and seeking the face of God for direction and strength for the upcoming week.

Mary arrives early, very early, on the morning of the twenty-ninth. So do the staff of Everywoman’s Health Centre. They’ve been through all of this before, many times.

Police arrive equally early. At 6:30 a.m., there are already two Vancouver City Police officers attending the scene. For some reason, the officers have no nametags.

Thanks to photographer Kevin Pielak, we have a striking, haunting image of the few moments before Mary’s arrest – and his account of what transpired in those brief moments.

Misinformed that if he continued to take photographs he would be arrested for breaching the bubble-zone law, Pielak laid down his camera to watch. The bubble-zone law makes no such restriction, but Vancouver Police can be very arbitrary in their enforcement of the law, so Pielak’s complies.

He states: “They did not do anything until I put the camera down outside of the bubble zone on Gianna House property. As soon as I put the camera down, a police officer grabbed Mary by her shirt shoulder dragging her away from the door and allowing the abortion workers to enter the building.”

And then it was over.

Was it effective? Campaign Life Coalition British Columbia president John Hof thinks Mary’s efforts are, in fact, having a tremendous impact on the pro-life movement.

“Mary has never sought attention for herself. Her pilgrimage has been one of personal challenge. Her sacrificial efforts demand that each of us search our own hearts, to see if we can do more to offer women something other than the choice to kill their children. I am personally challenged every time I speak with Mary – to do more, to sacrifice more in this fight to save the unborn.”

And the photograph?

Hof continues: “This photo reminds us of the photos that accompanied the tragedy at Tienanmen square in China. The bubble zone attacks freedom at the root. Where simply praying and handing out roses is a crime. This photo speaks a thousand words, challenging each of us to the core. Mary has offered her freedom. What does each of us offer to end this tragedy?”