The arrest of two picketers for displaying “obscene” signs outside a Toronto abortuary clinic should not be dismissed tightly by the larger pro-life community.

Although one of the charges was eventually changed to mischief, the arrests indicate that public witnessing – a vital cog in the pro-life machinery – may be in for some hard times.

Admittedly, some of the signs displayed by pro-life pickets are graphic – even shocking – to passersby. But if we are to alert the community to what really happens to the unborn child during an abortion, then signs and posters can prove highly effective. Too often, the pro-abortion element denies the humanity of the unborn child. A visual reminder, even the occasional grotesque one, can drive away any illusion that the aborted child is anything less than human.

Obscenity charges, coupled with the court injunction against pro-life activity in Ontario and British Columbia, may give pause to some in the community. There has been a concerted effort on the part of abortion advocates to link pro-life work with violence and fanaticism. For example, Dr. Gary Romalis, the B.C. abortionist who was wounded by an unknown assailant in November, 1994, was a courtroom regular during the recent B.C. “bubble zone” appeal. We can only speculate that Romalis’ presence was an attempt to associate picketing, demonstrations and sidewalk counselling with acts of violence against abortion providers.

Pro-life supporters will have to develop a “thick skin” in the face of these latest obstacles. If the movement fall victim to these attempts to hinder and intimidate high profile pro-life work, the opposition can claim a measure of victory.

Perhaps our courts and our legislators will soon recognize that a couple of graphic signs or posters pale in comparison to the great obscenity that is abortion.