Pro-life leader helped woman obtain restraining order – says police and courts were slow to offer protection

By Mike Mastromatteo
The Interim

The Toronto and Area Right to Life Association is supporting a local woman who is resisting tremendous pressure and intimidation from a former boyfriend to abort the couple’s unborn child.

Maria (not the woman’s real name) contacted the organization in October after learning that she had become pregnant by her boyfriend. The boyfriend had insisted throughout the couple’s two-and-a-half year relationship that he was physically incapable of fathering a child. With the news of the pregnancy, however, he told Maria that he wanted nothing to do with the child. He immediately booked an appointment for an abortion and strongly insisted that Maria submit to the procedure.

Maria has always had a moral problem with abortion, and she telephoned Toronto Right to Life for advice on how to handle the unwelcome situation. Emma Fedor, president of Toronto Right to Life, sent her a copy of a pro-life video and explained to Maria the various life-affirming alternatives to abortion.

When the boyfriend learned that Maria was planning to keep the child, he flew into a near rage, calling the unborn child “a piece of meat,” and demanding once again that she undergo an abortion.

According to Emma Fedor, Maria’s plan to keep the child resulted in a series of threats and intimidation by the woman’s former boyfriend. “One day I received a telephone call from Maria, who seemed to be extremely shaken up,” Fedor said in a recent interview. “(Her former boyfriend) had asked her to meet with him, and Maria had hopes that he was ready to begin to work things out. When she met him, he also had two or three large men with him. These men took turns intimidating Maria and threatening her by saying that she better be very careful because anything could happen to her. She might accidently fall down some stairs, hurting herself and killing her baby. They explained to her that the best thing for her to do to keep safe was to agree to have an abortion.”

With Fedor’s help, Maria immediately sought intervention from the police and from a justice of the peace. Although both parties were initially uncooperative, Fedor and Maria eventually found a sympathetic justice of the peace who granted a peace bond, requiring the boyfriend to stay away from Maria. Supported by the peace bond, Maria was successful in having Toronto police charge the boyfriend with uttering death threats. The boyfriend was later convicted of the charge.

Despite the court system’s eventual action, Maria faces another crisis in bringing her unborn child to term. In a bizarre turn of events, Maria recently discovered that her former boyfriend is employed at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, the institution where she is scheduled to give birth in late May or early June. Although there is little chance of the former boyfriend attempting to intercede at this stage, Maria is concerned that his presence will add undue stress and anxiety to the birth.

Women’s College Hospital initially planned no special security precautions, but it has since promised to admit Maria under a different name to prevent the former boyfriend from attempting to track her down.

In a March 25 interview with The Interim, Maria said the entire experience has been a shock and a bitter lesson in standing up for one’s pro-life beliefs. “It’s amazing the amount of trouble I had to go through to find some security,” she said. “I was also surprised at my former boyfriend’s lack of respect for human life. He is a respected businessman, so it’s not as if he doesn’t have a certain amount of sophistication. But I don’t believe in abortion and I didn’t want him or his friends to tell me what to do with this baby.”

For her part, Emma Fedor said courts and the police were much too slow to come to Maria’s defence. “It should not be this difficult to get protection from local police,” Fedor said. “The system is failing many women in abusive situations, and too many women are being pressured [into abortion] by their mates.” Even if the woman has a basic respect for life and is willing to bring the child to term, pressure and hostility from boyfriends can result in abortion.

Joanne Dieleman, director of the Aid to Woman pro-life counselling and service agency in Toronto, said most of the cases she deals with involve less direct pressure from male partners who do not want to take responsibility for their girlfriend’s unborn child. “We haven’t seen too many cases of this kind of threat and intimidation for abortion, but that doesn’t mean that it never happens,” Dieleman said.

Maria is now preparing for the birth of her child, but she faces ongoing needs. As a part-time consultant and the mother of a 10-year-old daughter, the single mother would welcome any financial support from pro-life well wishers.