B.C. Supreme Court Justice Macdonell sentenced Laird Swanson, 31, to six months in prison March 2 for blocking access to injunction-protected Everywoman’s Health Centre, Vancouver’s only private abortuary.
Justice Macdonell handed down concurrent six-month sentences for two separate incidents of trespassing on the abortuary property. His harsh penalty duplicates the one meted out to James Hanlon, a Langley, B.C. rescuer.
Twenty-three pro-lifers blocked Morgentaler’s Toronto abortuary, front and back, on the morning of March 10. The abortuary is protected by an injunction issued in April 1989, forbidding all protests and demonstrations, including peaceful sit-ins, picketing or prayer.
Three people, Barry D’Costa of Kitchener, Ontario, Brian Austin of Durham, Ontario and Jeanie Arcand of Sturgeon Falls, Ontario were fastened by kryptonite locks around their necks to a 350-pound cement-filled container.
Police arrived about 8:30 a.m. to arrest the rescuers. Most co-operated by getting to the police cars on their own; only a few had to be carried.
When police discovered the three locked rescuers, the fire department appeared on the scene to free them with acetylene torches and jack-hammers. But because of the danger to the rescuers, police eventually decided to call in a locksmith instead. The locksmith first tried keys but discovered the locks were sealed with gum; he finally had to drill right through the locks. By this time it was 11:30 a.m. Only too happy that it was over, Sheriff Ken Foster grabbed one of the three before he even had a chance to get up.
All the participants had picketed or “rescued” before. They were held at 14 Division police station and went through the regular routine of fingerprinting and photographs. They were held until the arrival of a Justice of the Peace at 8:00 p.m.
During the first few hours most of those arrested refused to give their names, substituting Jane and John Doe. But as no policy had been set beforehand, the response was inconsistent and was abandoned when they were threatened with charges of obstructing police.
The Justice of the Peace offered first-time offenders freedom if they promised not to go within 500 feet of the abortuary until their trial. Defense counsel Paul Dodds saw to it that three elderly women were released, despite being second-time “offenders”.
Seven adults – five men, one woman, and one juvenile girl – were ordered held overnight as second-time offenders until a bail hearing the next day.
The sixteen set free included thirteen adults and three teens. The three teens were Natalie (17), Patsy (15) and Cathy (12) Lochwin, of Toronto.
The adults arrested were – Jeanie Arcand, Sturgeon Falls; Pat Bannon, Stratford; Fr. Bill Comerford; Joanne Dieleman, Willowdale; Catherine Fox, Scarborough; Betty Ann Hamon, Toronto; John Hayes, Windsor; Nancy Kuwabara, Brantford; John Laviolette, Sutton; Yvonne Sabourin, Brantford; Vera Stothers, Downsview; Helen Valli, Willowdale; Ita Venner, Whitby.
On March 10 one woman and four men were given the opportunity of release if they would stay away from the Morgentaler abortuary. They were Lorraine Carbonneau of North Bay; Brian Austin of Durham; Ken Kittle of Simcoe; Paul O’Neill of Mississauga; and Stephen Johnson of Etobicoke. Austin and Kittel refused to sign and thus remain in custody until at least their court appearance on March 16 when a date for trial will be set. They may have to remain in prison until the trial itself.
Barry D’Costa of Kitchener, and Adele Scammel of Richond Hill, both 18, were held over till a bail hearing on Monday, March 12. Paul Vandervet of Brantford was their counsel. Their bail hearing was more complicated because each of them was already out on bail for an earlier rescue at Colodny’s abortuary, when they were charged as juveniles. That trial is still to come in April.
Rescuers report that at least one woman turned away from the abortuary after being counseled.