In an ongoing dispute over Bill Whatcott’s insistent anti-abortion picketing campaign, a Saskatchewan Planned Parenthood agency recently launched a lawsuit against Whatcott and his supporters. Citing defamation and harassment, Planned Parenthood Regina filed a statement of claim against Whatcott and all other members of the Christian Truth Activists.
The lawsuit, filed on June 21, claimed Whatcott and the Christian Truth Activists are guilty of defaming Planned Parenthood and of harassing individuals attempting to enter the PP office.
According to reports appearing in Regina’s Leader-Post newspaper, the purpose of the lawsuit is twofold: to keep Whatcott and the Christian Truth Activists away from Planned Parenthood facilities and to prevent preaching or protesting against the Regina agency. The presiding judge granted both requests.
During that hearing, Whatcott chose to defend himself, “speaking and defending my right and responsibility to prophetically witness against the corrupt deeds of Planned Parenthood.” In his response, Whatcott countered allegations brought by Barb McWatters, executive director of Regina Planned Parenthood. “Ms McWatters knew that (I) was referring specifically to the fact that Regina PP stands guilty before Almighty God for referring women for abortions at the Regina General Hospital Women’s Centre.” Whatcott went on to outline the links between local PP agencies, Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF): “…a minimal amount of research will certainly prove that Planned Parenthood Regina has an indirect but very strong connection to abortion,” he said.
In a second allegation, PP claimed Whatcott intimidated and harassed its clients. Signs carried by Whatcott and his supports used the words, “Hitler’s Holocaust,” and “Canada’s Holocaust by Abortion.” Planned Parenthood also alleges that Whatcott called their clients, “fornicators” and urged them to “keep their pants on.” Planned Parenthood calls that slander; Whatcott calls it his prophetic witness.
In earlier confrontations with the law, Whatcott has appealed for financial aid for legal defence. Those funds never materialized and Whatcott, with assistance from Weyburn, Sask., lawyer, Tom Schuck, was forced to defend himself. Not this time.
“I have chosen to defend him because I admire him,” said Schuck. “I’ve been working with Bill to get the affidavits ready. Bill will do as much as possible but I will represent him.”
Only a few donations have come in response to Whatcott’s appeal and Schuck finds it sad that more people don’t have the courage to stand up for their convictions.
“Because of his (Bill’s) interesting background, it’s probably not as traumatic for him to be arrested and abused,” Schuck said. “On the other hand, I’m appalled at how many Christians and pro-lifers withdraw from him because they don’t have the courage to admit that they don’t have the courage he has. I’ve had letters from pro-life groups who don’t want him to come to their towns … a lot of people won’t join pro-life for fear of looking bad, but unless you co-operate with the culture, you will look bad.”
When asked about the costs of his strong pro-life stand, Schuck continued: “Any clients I’ve lost because of my pro-life activities, I’ve lost already. It’s amazing at the number of people who have nothing to lose but don’t want to be associated because somehow or other someone might associate them with a radical faith that they should but don’t have.”
Planned Parenthood is seeking damages for libel and slander as well as damages for interrupting it from using its own facilities.