Recent incidents of vandalism to pro-life bus advertisements in Guelph, Ont. are once again pointing out the apparent hypocrisy inherent in the use of the label “pro-choice” to describe those who favour committing abortions.
A total of three Guelph Transit buses carrying what are called “supertail” pro-life advertisements – which cover virtually the entire back half of a bus – were spraypainted during the month of March. The culprits crossed out part of a phrase under a photo of a 19-week-old preborn child reading, “This is a child, not a choice,” to instead read, “This is a choice.” A 1-800 help line phone number was also crossed out.
“I was really flabbergasted,” said Jakki Jeffs, president of the 700-member Guelph and Area Right to Life Association. “They say they’re for choice … It shows an intolerance and bullying. It’s terrorism, really – you can’t have your message out there (because they’ll) destroy it.”
Guelph and Area Right to Life has been commissioning bus ads for about seven years. The campaign got off to a controversial start when representatives of Guelph University’s student union protested and tried to get Guelph Transit to discontinue them. The pro-life office has also vandalized over the years. But things settled down and the community got used to seeing the ads, before the newer supertail ads appeared on the scene last November.
Jeffs said she arrived at work one morning in March to find two messages on her answering machine from a man who said he had driven behind one of the vandalized buses. He called again later to say a second bus had been struck. A few days later, Jeffs herself saw a third bus defaced as she walked downtown.
Police have investigated all the incidents and a supervisor for the transit company said he had a report from a witness who saw a young woman defacing the third bus, but couldn’t catch her. Jeffs said both the police and bus company have been “absolutely wonderful,” although no one has been charged in connection with the incidents, and Guelph and Area Right to Life’s membership continues to stand behind the ad campaign.
“As many times as they vandalize them, (the ads) are going back up again,” Jeffs vowed. “If it means I have to go to the membership every time to replace them, I’m going to do it.”
Fortunately, there has been no cost to Guelph and Area Right to Life, because the Guelph Transit personnel were able to clean the ads and put them back into operation. And, showing that good can come of evil, a local cab driver approached Jeffs recently to ask if she’d be interested in running similar ads on his company’s vehicles.
Jeffs said she’d consider that offer, as well as running many more bus ads, if her organization had the financial resources to do it.
“Our work is really important and we will not be silenced by bullying. They’ve picked on the wrong group and the wrong person … It’s a new tactic from the other side to try to interfere with our contracts and even to fundraise. It’s amazing from a group that says they’re for choice. They call themselves pro-choice, but deny it to everybody else.”