|New Brunswick has become the site of new pro-abortion battles because of its steadfast refusal to fund abortions in private facilities – and one of the generals is American.
At a Fredericton press conference April 13, a coalition of women’s groups that included the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, the N.B. Advisory Council on the Status of Women and the Washington-based National Abortion Federation (NAF) demanded that the government create B.C.-style “bubble zones” to protect abortionists.
Prior to the press conference, an e-mail petition was circulated, to be returned with signatures to the government-funded ACSW. The listed contact person was Judy Burwell, Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, a former director of Fredericton’s Morgentaler Clinic.
The petition, purporting to speak for all New Brunswick women, urged the establishment of a “safe zone” around all abortion sites, offices and residences of abortion providers in the province, including the Morgentaler Clinic. It was addressed to Premier Shawn Graham, Health Minister Michael Murphy, and Attorney-General Thomas Burke.
Participating in the press conference were Simone Leibovitch, current director of the Morgentaler Clinic; Ginette Petitpas-Taylor, chairwoman of N.B.’s ACSW and Vicki Saporta, the president and chief executive officer of the NAF. (To read about her activities and growing influence as leader since 1995, go to www.prochoice.org and click on news/kit/about_vicki).
NBACSW wants the “unacceptable interference,” of “anti-choice” demonstrators curbed. Saporta declared that abortuaries and abortionists in Canada have been targeted for violence and harassment by anti-abortion extremists. These are false and outrageous statements, says Peter Ryan, Executive director of N.B. Right to Life.
A pre-announcement rally was held two days earlier on the UNB campus. Co-sponsors included the Faculties of Law, the Faculty of Nursing, the Sexual Assault Centre, the Morgentaler Clinic and Catholics for Free Choice.
A small pro-life group handed out literature at the entrance. “A lot of people took it, but the pro-abortion activists were trying to confiscate it as people went in,” reports Ryan.
One speaker at the rally was Heather Mallick, a former Globe and Mail columnist who has in the past wondered why Morgentaler hasn’t been named to the Order of Canada. “Her talk, ‘Standing up to Bullies,’ referred to the government and to folks like us,” said Ryan.
Dr. Joanne Majerovich, from the campus health centre, seemed to be nonplussed by an audience question about the morality of abortion. Panelist Julia Hughes, from the law faculty, delivered a diatribe against pro-life types, and when an audience member asked if “the other side” was invited, she exclaimed, “There is no other side!”
To “support choice,” the UNB audience was advised, they should “copy pro-life tactics, such as writing letters to the editor.”
In reaction to the petition, Burke said, “If it is a legitimate concern… if the safety (of citizens) is in jeopardy, I want to make sure that I explore that concern.” He said he will discuss the issue with Health Minister Murphy and Public Safety Minister John Foran.