Toronto

Two priests and a bus driver say they would rather go to jail than pay a $750 fine for protesting outside the Morgentaler “clinic”.

Judge A. E. Carlton described the men as “pillars of the community” but said the “severe” penalty was justified. “If they decided that the law is not to their liking, then they have to stand the consequences,” Carlton said at Old City Hall court. “The consequences, in their case, in my judgment, have to be more severe than in cases of poorer, stupider people.” The men were told to pay the fine in 60 days or face a 15-day jail sentence.

Rev. Alphonse de Valk, 57, Rev. Bill Comeford, 53, and Peter Hendrick, 34, were arrested on different days in July for violating an injunction protecting the Morgentaler clinic against all protests including prayer, counselling or demonstrating within 500 feet.

“The legal system was corrupted by parliament’s decision in 1969 to legalize abortion,” said de Valk, a Basilian priest, a former history professor at St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan, 1966-1978, and a former principal of St. Joseph College, University of Alberta, Edmonton, 1978-1983.

In 1974, de Valk published the book Morality and Law in Canadian Politics: The Abortion Controversy, in which he argues that legalizing acts of violence like the killing of the unborn corrupts both law and society.

Judge Carlton had quoted Sir Thomas More, English Chancellor at the time of Henry VIII, as saying, “When all the trees are felled, only the law will be there to protect you.” Afterwards de Valk pointed out that More was referring to true law, not to law that contradicts God’s commandments.

“The injunction,” he said, “protects a non-existing right. Neither doctors nor women have the right to kill unborn babies. The injunctions, therefore, are examples of how the legal system has been corrupted, entangling judges, crown prosecutors, police officers, sheriffs and lawyers in its own corruption.”

Rev. Bill Comeford, native of Ottawa and a Redemptorist priest, has had postings in P.E.I., Nova Scotia and Quebec City. He told the court he would invite women on their way to the abortion clinic who were willing to talk to share their problems before proceeding.

Hendrick stood outside the abortion “clinic” trying to sell copies of a July 17 Toronto newspaper headlining Barbara Dood’s regrets about her abortion.