Several dozen demonstrators lined the walkway of the church where hundreds of pro-lifers were gathered to pray for an end to abortion. As I walked the gauntlet, their unison chant, “bring back the lions” hit me and bounced off. Safely inside, the full significance of their refrain sunk in.

A little later, I spoke candidly on the radio, admitting that when I had an abortion at 19, I had “killed” my baby. Within minuets my phone rang. The female caller identified herself as a “witch” and informed me that she and her coven had placed a “curse” to on me and my family. I dismissed it as a crank call, but never the less got a prayer chain going.

Then one Sunday, I came home from church to find my cat lying lifelessly in the breezeway, a bag of rat poison beside him. The first thing the vet asked me after examining the kitty was, “Are you a Christian” “why yes, how did you know?” was my astonished reply. He shrugged and said, “Whatever it is that identifies your Christianity- get rid of it!” I tried to think. The Christmas lights in the shape of a cross? The scripture verse in the hallway? Then I remembered the Justice for the Unborn sign in the window. In the weeks that followed I took the sign out of the window and put it back several times. Whenever the eerie feeling entered my mind, I rejected it as paranoia. Nevertheless, we moved to a less isolated neighborhood.

Then one morning, I discovered that my car window had bee shattered. Upon inspection, I discovered a brick in the backseat. An elastic band secured a handwritten note telling me to shut my “@#%&! anti-abortion mouth or else.” Soon after, I attended a rally and witnessed peaceful pro-lifers being kicked, strangled, dragged, and having urine filled condoms poured over their heads. It was then that I first began to entertain the thought that there was an organized effort to target pro-lifers.

In the summer of ’94, my suspicions grew when I read about a Vancouver family whose house was fire-bombed and a Calgary grandmother who was beaten up. Since both were active in the pro-life movement, my “conspiracy theory” loomed ever larger! I contemplated an unlisted telephone number and a security system.

Soon however my “conspiracy theory” began to shrink as I heard more and more news accounts of isolated and random acts of violence. Face it, I told myself. There are thousands of mentally unstable people walking around out there. Still, I wondered why the media breathed nary a word about what was happening to pro-lifers.

Then someone pointed out that every day in the United States, hundreds of people are attacked and more than 70 are murdered, without so much as a word from the media. Unless the victim is famous or infamous, seldom do we hear any of the details.

But let a madman walk into an abortion clinic and start shooting and suddenly we have a news story worthy of thousands of newspaper pages and hundreds of hours of T.V. coverage. The reports suddenly allege that the pro-life movement has suddenly changed its tactics from haphazard, democratic pressure to orchestrated, violent coercion. Elaborate charts link any and all acts of aggression against pro-abortionists, their clinics and their cats. Commentators painstakingly paint pictures of a movement infiltrated and taken over by “radical religious and white supremacy groups.” Regardless of how strongly or how many times we deplore the violence, the pro-life movement is found “guilty as charged.” After all, we are told, you have created a “climate of violence.” “Tone down the rhetoric.” What they really mean is stop saying abortion kills children. “Stop holding violent demonstrations.” What they really mean is stop giving women alternatives to abortion.

After six years as a leader in the pro-life movement, I can tell you unequivocally that there is no organized conspiracy of violence against pro-lifers. Why, just recently I witnessed a man instantly escorted from the room after he advocated pouring red pain o the steps of an abortuary (as a symbol that blood is shed there on a daily basis). I have also come to the conclusion that there is probably not a conspiracy of violence against pro-lifers. But there is definitely a conspiracy of violence against pro-lifers. But there is definitely a conspiracy of another kind. This type of conspiracy takes mayhem, murder and madness and makes maximum mileage from it. More pressure on governments to further restrict peaceful expression of an opposing view. The Rae government fell for it. The Clinton government fell for it and now the pro-abortionists are going to sleep with visions of utopia dancing in their heads…a society where it is illegal to speak, preach, or even pray against abortion!

Meanwhile, the pro-life movement’s call for further investigation into a CSIS report that links the Morgentaler fire-bombing to a group with ties to the pro-abortionists is being ignored. Across the nation, reasonable folks who previously fell into the 80% of people who didn’t have an opinion one way or another on the issue are being asked to choose sides: the so called pro-choice movement (portrayed as innocent freedom fighters) with half a dozen new martyrs, or the so-called violent anti-abortionists who are supposed to resort to murder in order to deny women control over their own bodies.

We can’t say we didn’t expect it. Even before the shootings, the media didn’t like us very much. They routinely misquoted us, marginalized us and maligned us, often referring to “rosary-swinging fanatics” and “anti-choice zealots.” Seldom if ever, did they inform the public about hundreds of Crisis Pregnancy Centers we set up (without government assistance) to offer real choice and support to women faced with unplanned pregnancies. Rarely, did they ever mention the thousands of hours pro-lifers spend developing sex education programs, working with the homeless, providing aid to third world countries, setting up suicide intervention hot lines, hospices and palliative care centers.

But that was before. Now I can guess all the pro-life movement can do is hope and pray that reasonable people will recognize that while Mr. Salvi and the others may have been anti-abortionists, they are as far away from “pro-life” as you can possible get. Moreover, people need to remember that Mr. Salvi and his ilk are just a few of thousands of profoundly disturbed people, in need of comprehensive treatment and rehabilitation. But I think the dominating prayer for most pro-lifers in the coming months will be to pray that the extensive and prolonged media coverage given to these crimes will not serve as encouragement for some other madman to go on a shooting spree.