On June 7, I had the opportunity to play reporter and attend a press conference that undoubtedly opened my eyes wider than they’ve ever been opened before. At 10:45 a.m., I walked into the Studio Place at the Carlton Inn, trying desperately to appear like I’d done this one hundred times before. How is a young, female reporter who is about to sit in on the Press Conference of abortionist Henry Morgantaler, supposed to appear, anyway? Confident (definitely not trembling as my heart would indicate), casually sophisticated- and tough! I tried that…
I took a seat about two rows back from where Morgantaler would be addressing us. Immediately the room began to fill up, with what one Toronto Sun reporter described as “the best attended Press Conference he’d been to in a long time.”
It didn’t take long to realize that my views were outnumbered by about 30 to 1 (maybe 1 ½). I was fortunate enough to have one Toronto Star reporter mistake me for someone else; this enabled me to tell him that I was representing The Interim (of which I gave him a copy), and to familiarize him with “The Facts Versus Morgantaler”. He seemed open enough. For the rest of the time spent waiting for the abortionist, I just listened to the comments and anticipatory restlessness apparent amongst these media figures. At the back of the room Norma Scarborough (C.A.R.A.L.) distributed large, brown envelopes containing numerous pages of Pro-abortion propaganda; this marked the start of an all-out bombardment of cleverly schemed euphemisms and tactics with which they intended to issue to “inform” the press and public.
Shortly after 11:00 a.m. Henry Morgantaler sauntered by the lights and cameras. Accompanied by his smug cohorts: Judy Rebick, Marilyn White (Representing Ontario’s Federation of Labor Movement), Doris Anderson (N.A.S.W.) and Norma Scarborough. Each gave her own slanted spiel, but all were there for the same reason: to announce the opening of Ontario’s first free-standing abortion clinic. The location was chosen (85 Harbord Street in Toronto), the house purchased, the opening date (June 15, 1983) schedules, and the need – according to this panel – was there. Yes, the usual references to coat hangers, backstreet butchers and the (oppressive) right of “sensible women to determine how many children they would bear”, were recited with particular emphasis.
Finally, the hero of pro-abortionists in Canada was officially introduced. He, too, reiterated the monotonous sob story of the lengths he has taken to ensure women’s rights to safe, legal abortion. We listened to Morgantaler tell of the trials and jail terms he endured as though we were supposed to believe that he was some kind of defender of life, instead of the destroyer that he is. The tragedy, of course, was that with the intentional caution taken not to mention the reality of the snuffed-out unborn lives resulting from catering to women’s demands in this fashion, Morgantaler and buddies were convincing. In fact, mine was the only sigh of disbelief heard when he had the gall to state that abortion is now the most popular and safest operation performed across Canada and the U.S.- “10 times safer even than childbirth!!”
The floor was opened to questions from a credulous press audience. From this we learned that a pro-Choice Defense Fund was being started (as if abortion was not to be regarded as the thriving gold mine that it has become!), that a Pro-Choice rally would be held on June 22 (7:30 p.m.) at the Trinity United Church to combat any opposition that they might encounter, and that Morgantaler and his equally altruistic associate, Dr. Smoling, were prepared to suffer prosecution again, should Attorney General McMurtry be stubborn enough to uphold the law. In addition, he had the audacity to say that great efforts would be taken to ensure that there would be no “uncivilized” raids made on the clinic; he even told one enquiring reporter that he would arrange to have the protection of the Metropolitan Police on hand if needed. That would certainly misconstrue our definition of protection.
Very few questions were raised that suggested a hint of skepticism about this man, but those made were somewhat helpful. For instance, one woman asked outright what he intended to charge per abortion. One Sun reporter pointed out that he gave two entirely different figures (as to the number of abortions performed weekly) within a ten-minute span. Also a Star reporter had Morgantaler admit that, should he not be given official recognition before opening, he would blatantly ignore the law “as was done for years despite the contraception ruling that stood not long ago.” Intelligent analogy.
Someone else asked how he could possibly afford to purchase the expensive location in Toronto, to which he replied that a private corporation had bought the house and was renting it to him. That same reporter wisely reported that they were tipped earlier in the day, that it was Morgantaler’s brother who, in fact, comprised that “wise corporation”. I believe that Morgantaler’s deception proved a bit embarrassing for him.
While on the topic of exploitive, lucrative businesses, I couldn’t help but pick up on Morgantaler’s own reference to counseling. My prayers must have been heard, because I was given the opportunity to remind the abortionist of the evidence brought for those many young women who suffer proven physical and psychological repercussions, and wondered how extensive his post-abortive care would be. Taken aback, he retaliated by saying that it was difficult for him to treat his victims (I mean women patients), because so often they have had to travel long distances just to obtain his services. More inconvenience, I guess.
I suppose my accusatory tone and questions were a dead give-away, for I doubt Judy Rebick would have enabled me to speak, had she known that I wasn’t a die-hard pro-abortionist. However, the opposition was strong enough to at least warrant both TV and newspaper coverage of our Pro-Life position. I’m afraid, though, that this is only the beginning of what will be an active struggle for us to prevent such distortion of what this proposed “safe”, “legal” surgery is all about. Deep down in the hearts of those neutral media people, those militant feminists and perhaps even Morgantaler himself, there are little voices pleading for real justice. Buried beneath those cleverly construed smoke screens, the pro-abortionists know that this mass destruction is wrong. Now we are desperately being called upon to surface those truth-telling consciences. Fast.