On February 23, around 200 pro-lifers assembled in Toronto in the chilly pre-dawn hours to rescue the babies scheduled for death that day at the Morgentaler abortuary on Harbord Street.
Many reporters linked the rescue to a protest over the just-released Law Reform Commission report on abortion. In fact, the rescue was held, as usual, to save the babies in danger of death on that day and also as a gesture of support for the 104 pro-lifers in British Columbia whose trial on contempt of court charges began that morning in Vancouver.
Unlike earlier rescues in Toronto, when pro-lifers have kept the abortuary blocked and inaccessible for several hours, police began making arrests quickly after their arrival at the abortuary. Nevertheless, as rescuers were dragged away, more came forward to occupy the steps of the building to prevent access and it still took several hours for police to clear the area.
Like earlier rescues in Toronto, a small band of pro-abortion supporters stood by, heckling and harassing the rescuers. The rescuers refused to respond to insults and jeers. They courageously suffered through the freezing temperatures, many with their clothes soaked through from sitting in slush puddles.
A total of 92 arrests were made. Police again held those arrested for several hours but all were later released unconditionally. The February rescue brings the total of those arrested to date in Toronto to 332.
One of the most important factors in the success of any rescue is the element of surprise. The first rescue in Toronto last October was highly successful in this respect. In January, there was wide-scale publicity for the three-day rescue. This was a deliberate move on the part of rescue organizers who wanted to give as many people as possible the opportunity to join in.
The February rescue had been anticipated by the abortionists and the abortuary was clearly not open for business.
Rescuers told The Interim that only one woman ushered into the abortuary by an escort at the end of the rescue, might possibly have been seeking an abortion. The abortionists left the building at around 1 p.m., and did not return for the rest of the day.
The purpose of a rescue is to keep an abortuary closed while the rescue is in progress. This gives mothers coming in some time to change their minds before they take the irreversible step of undergoing abortion.
Some women do change their minds and lives are saved. Rescue leaders are asking those involved in the movement to take special care to ensure that vital information about projected rescue dates is kept confidential.