Toronto police seemed bent on making sure that an Ontario Court injunction is not ignored by pro-lifers.  Two elderly ladies who were strip-searched call it harassment.

On August 31, just one day after the injunction was set down, Rosemary Connell, Bill Whatcott and Linda Gibbons resumed their usual sidewalk counseling practises outside Manole Buruianna’s and Robert Scott’s abortuaries in downtown Toronto.

Police took the three to 51 Division where they were questioned and released without charge.  The next day the three again challenged the injunction and this time they were held and charged.  Both Whatcott and Connell signed bail conditions and received a court date.  Gibbons refused to give her name and, as of press time, was still held at the Metro West Detention Centre.

After the initial flurry had passed, police came out to all four abortuaries and measured distances according to terms named in the injunction.

The following day, Bill McArthur, Jen Copps and Mary Burnie were crossing the street at Buruianna’s, carrying their signs at their side, to take up position outside the 60-foot limit.  Before they crossed, they were held up for several minutes by heavy traffic.  When traffic let up, the three crossed the road to the sixty-foot distance.

However, a policeman spotted them as they were waiting for traffic and accused them of picketing within the 60-foot limit.  Joanne Dieleman, who was several minutes behind the three, was also stopped by traffic and she too was accused with breaking the injunction.

All four were handcuffed together, loaded into a paddy wagon and brought to 51 Division.  “We told him that we were simply waiting for traffic to pass,” said Bill McArthur.  “But he simply wouldn’t listen.”

The four were put into holding cells to await questioning.  Two of the women arrested were stripped searched by police without pretext.  Then the on-duty constable, realizing he hadn’t any case against the four, released them without charge.

“I had to laugh,” said McArthur bitterly.  “We went through all that unnecessary garbage and then they let us go.”

Since this incident there have been no arrests.  The pro-life counselors have devised new ways of reaching out to women entering the abortuary but are finding it difficult.  “The one-on-one contact is how we saved most of our babies,” lamented McArthur.  “Now this is gone.”

Joanne Dieleman, who runs Aid to Women and organizes sidewalk counseling, says the injunction has not deterred any of her regular counselors.  Sidewalk counseling will continue, obeying the limits set by Judge Adams.