In the well-to-do Ontario Community of Markham/Stouffville, just north east of Toronto, a battle has raged over abortion in a hospital that is not to be built for another three years. In the summer of 1982, the rapidly-growing community received permission from the Ontario Ministry of health to raise $5,000,000 from the community to support the building of the hospital. The total capital cost of the hospital is $45,000,000. The community had raised $4,500,000 in money and pledges when the abortion issue reared its head.

CARAL informed

York South Right to Life, the local pro-life group, quietly asked its members residing in the area to become members of the hospital corporation so that they would have a strong voice when the time came for the decision on whether the therapeutic abortion committee should be established.

The wife of one of the trustees of the Board (well known for his pro-abortion bias) telephoned the office of the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League (CARAL) asking that they buy up membership in the hospital corporation.

“Instant” members

The pro-abortion organization (CARAL), obtained memberships to the Markham-Stouffville Hospital Corporation from its members as far away as Calgary, Guelph, Kitchener, etc., with the objective of taking over the hospital board to serve it’s own interests. CARAL telephoned its members and requested permission to use their names, which were placed on a list and forwarded with CARAL’s own cheque to its representative in York Regin, Ms. Vicky Miller, who presented the names and cheque to the Treasurer on June 26, the last day permitted for voting privileges at the annual meeting.

It appears that none of these “instant” members either individually signed or paid for their membership in the hospital corporation.

On July 13, 1984, CARAL forwarded a letter its membership in which they identified the three -pro-abortion candidates whom they wished their members to elect.

They also stated in this letter that telephone calls should be made its office several days before the annual meeting, in order to ascertain in any other strong pro-abortion candidates had been confirmed. Subsequently they identified two more as being pro-abortion.

It is to be noted that nearly all the pro-abortion memberships came from outside the area, whereas all the pro-life memberships were drawn from the area.

Outside intervention objected to

As a result of this outside interference, a committee called the Committee for Markham /Stouffville Hospital was formed and called a press conference in which it objected to the outside organization becoming involved in affairs of the local hospital.

Vince Higgins, Chairman of the Citizens Committee, in a letter dated July 20th, to the Chairman of the Board, Mr. J. Lachlan Cattanach, said that, “It is imperative that we prevent our board from becoming a tool of any outside single issue groups.” He went on to state, “During the past few days, we have learned of a number of instances where withdrawal of pledges is contemplated if the outsiders have any success. In at least one case a very substantial amount is involved.”

The letter than went on to request that the by-law restricting membership to local residents only be passed.

The Markham/Stouffville Citizens Committee also held a press conference and received excellent coverage and it also placed ads in the local newspaper.

At the annual meeting held on July 26th, approximately 1,000 members turned out to vote for the new board. The ten incumbent members nominated by the Nominating Committee were re-elected.

The annual meeting, however, passed a by-law restricting membership to residents only.

Campaign Life President, James Hughes, wrote to the president of the Hospital Corporation, stating, “We cannot and will not tolerate the hospital in Markham-Stouffville being used as a flagship for the pro-abortionist cause which will destroy the lives of unborn children.”

With three years to go before the hospital is built, it seems the Markham/ Stouffville area is being mapped out as a battleground for the pro-life cause.