In shock and dismay I heard the announcement on the radio on that Thursday morning: “Not guilty – acquitted.” First: Unbelief “God, how can this happen? How did you let it happen? We prayed so much and were so sure You heard us.” I personally was very hopeful as I left the courtroom the day before! There was also a certain amount of relief. Finally, it was over. No more phoning, arranging, worrying, walking in the cold weather.
And it looked so good. The judge certainly seemed on the right side. We prayed constantly for Mr. Cooper and Mr. Parker. Obviously Morgentaler and Manning had been bothered by our presence. I suppose I am basically optimistic and, I might add, a poor loser. Only, really, we did not lose. These men will have to face another jury, and there they will not be acquitted. Many souls will testify against them. They need many prayers, because they, too, will find forgiveness if they change their hearts.
By now many will know most of the details of this trial. How, for example, the jury was picked, and how certain rules were agreed upon (and broken) – such as the use of the three questions, agreed upon beforehand. As it turned out, they were used only by the “triers,” to weed out all prospective jurors, leaving Morris Manning free to ask all the questions he wanted to ask. He would confer with Morgentaler and his two special jury-selectors from the States. He would always listen to their advice.
The jury-selection took four days. Although neither Morris Manning nor Alan Cooper used all their challenges – 12 for Cooper, 36 for Manning (12 for each defendant), a total of 132 took the stand. Not much imagination is needed to visualize the jury.
He admitted to having broken the law.
On October 19, the trial began. Reports on the proceedings, were tucked away on the last pages of our papers here in Toronto. Proven, beyond a doubt, was the fact that this threesome had knowingly and willingly planned to disobey the law which states that the killing of unborn babies is legal only in an accredited hospital, after three doctors agree that this is done to safeguard the health and/or life of the mother.
Mr. Cooper did a good job, restricting himself to matters of the law…True or not true?… We would have liked to have seen more defending of human life, but realized that this was not the issue in this trial. After that, the defendants undertook to convince the jurors and the public. (Now the reports moved to the front page of the daily paper.) A “pediatrician” pointed to all these 14-year-olds, who could not possibly be accommodated by existing facilities. A “doctor” from Quebec claimed that in Quebec abortionists now have a peaceful existence. No more trouble. Anybody can get an abortion without delay, stress, waiting, etc.
Finally, Morgentaler himself came to the stand. He admitted to having broken the law, but, proceeded to explain his action and to plead “Defence of necessity”. (“If you have a sick child in a car, you can run a red light and plead ‘not guilty.’) At this point Morgentaler proudly pointed out that he personally has done over 18,000 abortions without a single death! He also denied having done these abortions for money; after all, he was now broke, he said.
In his charge to the jury, the judge pointed out that defence of necessity was unfounded in this case, since no imminent deaths were involved. He also made it clear that the jury was not to interpret the law as good or bad, but were only to decide whether the law had been broken. Manning had many objections to the charge but the judge stayed calm, although sometimes he was rather annoyed, once exclaiming: “So you think I can bring out only the defence’s good points and not the Crown’s?” and “You mean I talked three hours for nothing?” The next day Judge Parker made his second charge. I have to give Manning credit for perseverance, although, when he tried to object again, he was overruled, for the first time in the whole trial. Even when the “doctor” from Quebec went to great lengths to prove that birth-control laws in the 60s were backward and stupid, that Mr. Mulroney was not doing his job properly, that Mr. Broadbent was the only one with some sense, not once was he stopped, or told it was irrelevant.
The saddest thing throughout the whole trial was the absence of God. Although the witnesses and jurors had to swear by the Bible, the Book lay unopened and unmentioned. But one thing I can see. The past weeks have certainly shaken many people out of their apathy. Many good articles have been published and many sermons preached and heads bowed. The Lord’s ways are difficult to understand. Will He really let it happen? And will we then find a reason to stay home and do nothing?
Here in North York the Lord has certainly opened to us one way to stay active: The Crisis Pregnancy Centre, proves to be a worthwhile endeavour. We pray that many more of these centres will be established and that many lives will be saved, according to His will. Meanwhile we will keep up the fight in educational and political areas. We may not win, but we can still give witness.