On Monday, February 11, 1985, calls went out to religious leaders and others in Toronto to help intensify the picketing at the Morgentaler abortuary for each afternoon from Feb-ruary 18 to 25.  Picketing, carried out for two weeks in December, but interrupted for a  two-week Christmas break when the abortuary was closed, and resumed in early January, has been organized by the political-action group, Campaign Life, with support from Toronto Right-to-Life and pro-lifers in general.

The initiation of the week of intensified picketing came from the newly-created ad hoc Pro-Life Action Committee, Spokesman Rev. Jack Gallagher, director of the Cardinal Carter Centre for Bioethics, and others, sought to draw the attention of the wider com-munity to the need to close the illegal abortuary.  The longer it stays open, the more people to accept it.

“Important time”

On February 12, the three Toronto newspapers announced that Cardinal Carter had encouraged all parishes to support the action, asking them to publicize it in their bulletins.  A newsletter to the Catholic clergy, endorsed by Cardinal Carter, noted that “this is a strategically important time to let officials know that there is support for applying the law to prevent abortion on demand that Morgentaler and his supporters seek.”

The Cardinal’s  statement drew the ire of abortion-rights supporters.  Morgentaler’s Judy Rebick claimed to be “stunned” and reiterated the oft-mentioned view that “the Church has no business trying to impose its values on the rest of us through government action.” The Toronto Star editorialized on February 13 that the protest would be “futile” was meant “to harass and frighten women who have made their own decision,” and would “not make Dr. Morgentaler go away.”

Action Supported

The proposed action drew support, however, from Jewish and Protestant leaders.  An Orthodox rabbi and leaders of the Pentecostal, Evangelical, Baptist, Canadian Reform and Christian Reform Churches, backed the February 18-21 protest.  On February 14, these leaders, together with the Ukrainian Catholic Bishop, representatives of the Pres-byterian Church, Rev. Tim Foley pastor of the Anglican Church of the Redeemer, and the national presidents of the two pro-life political action groups, Campaign Life and Coalition for the Protection of Human Life, signed an advertisement in the Globe and Mail.