Poor Linda Groce.

She’s doing 12 months in jail for illegal sidewalk counselling outside of Robert Scott’s Toronto abortuary. She is also one of the 18 pro-lifers charged two years ago by the former NDP government for their pro-life activities.

Linda, 46, the mother of three children is well acquainted with the serious problems ensuing from having an abortion (having had one herself).

She remains in jail a silent martyr—a prisoner of conscience—ignoring a law that thwarts her attempts to tell other women that killing their preborn child is not a solution to their problems.

If Linda, who has already had seven convictions dating back to 1989 for counselling pregnant women, was looking for help as a prisoner of conscience from Amnesty International (AI)—she can forget about it.

I recently spoke with Amnesty’s media spokesperson, John Tackaberry and brought him up-to-speed on the situation. He said that he feels Linda is in jail justifiably because she has “broken the law” and “from a legal standpoint, she was in violation when she came (knowingly) within 500 feet of the abortion clinic.”

Amnesty International claims that their mandate is clearly defined: “abortion is outside its limited human rights mandate. AI is primarily a prisoner-oriented organization which seeks the release of prisoners of conscience, fair trials for political prisoners and an end to torture and execution committed by governments. Amnesty does not work, or comment on, rights which lie outside its mandate, independent of the importance of the issue.”

I suggested to Tackaberry that Linda Gibbons fit the criteria of a prisoner of conscience perfectly. Linda is not violent nor does she advocate violence. She was not “tackling” women going in for abortions but pleading with them not to kill their unborn baby. She was also willing to go to jail for her beliefs. Tackaberry was not impressed by my arguments.

He claimed that AI only helps dissidents in areas where the law is “capricious and specific and arbitrary and discriminatory” and “aimed at a particular group.”

I then claimed that Linda was a “dissident” and that she was fighting an unjust law and asked for AI support. Tackaberry politely refused saying that AI has an international body that accepts or disallows claims of people who said they were “prisoners of conscience.” I said that I would fax, for submission to the international body, our arguments for Linda Gibbons being considered a prisoner of conscience. (Don’t hold your breath, Linda).

Amnesty International calls themselves “a worldwide voluntary movement that works to prevent some of the gravest violations by governments of people’s fundamental human rights.” The main focus of its campaigning is to:

  • Free all prisoners of conscience. These are people detained anywhere for their beliefs or because of their ethnic origin, sex, colour or language who have not used or advocated violence
  • Ensure fair and prompt trials for political prisoners
  • Abolish the death penalty, torture and cruel treatment of prisoners
  • End extrajudicial executions and “disappearances”

Excellent! Isn’t Linda being detained for her “beliefs?” Isn’t Linda fighting to abolish the death penalty for the preborn, the torture and cruel treatment of prisoners in the womb, and the “disappearances” of 1.5 million Canadian babies since 1969?

Not surprisingly,  Tackaberry couldn’t see it that way.

He broke off the conversation by saying that he had to write a letter about ten dissidents who were being executed in China for not obeying the law.

Our readers have noticed that the media haven’t written any bleeding heart stories about Linda willingly going to jail trying to save preborn babies from being killed.

But we all know—even in jail, Linda is in the camp of the saints and there’s no better place to be.