Upon arrival at the clinic I saw ladies outside carrying pictures of unborn babies. I looked at the pictures and thought of my own baby. As I was going towards the door a lady asked me, “Can we help you, you know they only do abortions in there.” I started crying. I came over to her. She hugged me. She was very nice to me. We talked a short while on the sidewalk. I explained that I had been going in for an abortion. She asked if I would like to talk about it for ten minutes. I wanted to talk. She invited me into the Way Inn.
(One woman’s testimony about what really happens during sidewalk counseling.)
The women remain anonymous in the court records but their testimony could make all the difference as the province tries to shut down pro-life activity in Ontario.
Lawyers representing the 18 pro-life defendants against the Attorney General presented the moving testimony of some of the women who decided to keep their children and not go ahead with their abortions after encountering counseling outside the Toronto abortion clinics.
The lawyers are hoping the women’s stories move the judge to refuse a request by the government for an injunction banning pro-lifers from 23 locations across the province.
Government lawyers and the media have made much of the affidavits which say women are harmed by the counselors outside the clinics. But they ignore the testimony of the woman who say the brief encounter with counselors made all the difference in the world.
“The people (counseling outside the clinic) offered life inside me.”
The same woman had been told by clinic staff there would be picketers outside the Cabbagetown Clinic who would try to “brainwash” her. She and her husband decided to keep their baby and their youngest daughter, was born December 12, 1992.
“I shudder to think how different my life would have been if not for the people who offered me counseling that day,” she says, “I am very thankful they were there.”
Another woman was pregnant with twins and she and her husband wanted to abort them because they couldn’t afford the financial burden.
“The women (counselors) were very kind,” she says. “They were not pushy.”
She credits the pro-life pamphlet which her husband took as influencing her decision to keep her babies. After the Aid to Women volunteers learned of her decision to keep the twins, they provided cribs, furniture, bedding and “dozens of twin girl outfits.”
“They helped me to have an open mind about the abortion I had planned,” she says.
Another woman recalls having an ultrasound taken of her unborn baby but not being allowed to see the picture.
“I asked him (the doctor) how big the baby was. He would not tell me. He said the abortion was going to be easy. I felt like he was treating me like an animal,” says the woman who was 20 weeks pregnant at the time, and had just been abandoned by her boyfriend.
She decided against the abortion and her fears were relieved when one of the volunteers at Aid to Women took her home to her house for dinner. Aid to Women bought groceries for her and helped her out with her rent. In April of last year her daughter was born.
Another woman also remembers not being able to see pictures of her unborn child. Staff wouldn’t tell her how big her baby was or what her baby looked like. Outside the clinic she encountered the counselors who gave her information.
“I feel like I am seeing what I really want to see,” she says. The woman from Aid to Women who counseled her was “strong in her convictions but not pushy. She was a good listener.”
Another woman, a life-long resident of foster homes, phoned Aid to Women by accident, thinking she could get an abortion.
“They never preached to me or put pressure on me,” she says. “She never said you are a bad person.”