I sometimes think, perhaps incorrectly, that many people have the impression pro-life is mostly a Catholic issue. It is true that the Pope is probably the strongest anti-abortion voice in the world, but he is not the only one.
I have a particular reason for writing this article, which I shall explain later. But first, I would like to pay tribute to the many non-Catholic Christians who, over the years, have taken such fearless and effective stands against the murder of our babies.
The first that comes to mind is Linda Gibbons. Linda used to be a Baptist and now attends an Alliance church, and has spent most of the last seven years in prison for standing in front of a Toronto abortuary, holding a placard which reads, “Why mom? When I have so much love to give,” or something similar. She has then been arrested and charged with breaking the law.
She usually stands between several six-foot-tall policemen (Linda is about five-foot-one) and never says a word. The judge asks her questions and so do the lawyers, but she never answers. Her argument is, “I am here to defend the lives of babies and there is nothing to argue about.”
We all know the old expression, “Speech is silver, silence is golden.” Linda’s silence is certainly golden. When she is in prison, she leads Bible studies for the other women inmates.
The next name that strikes me is that of the Rev. Ken Campbell, an evangelical Baptist minister. Not only does he preach against abortion, he literally takes a stand. He and I have been in jail together a few times and, while we probably would not agree on all questions of theology, we are completely at one on the question of the value and sacredness of human life and the unspeakable crime of abortion. I consider him as one of my most valued friends. The principal source of our union is love and reverence for the unborn baby.
Another great and valued friend of mine is Canon Bob Green, an Anglican minister. Rev. Bob is now retired and living in Western Canada, but when he was a pastor in Toronto, he was a wonderful example of a fearless protector of unborn life. He was a constant picketer outside the Morgentaler abortuary and was always prepared to accept the consequences.
There are many other non-Catholic pro-life people, but space does not permit me to do more than mention them. Another outstanding figure is Joanne Dieleman, director of the Aid to Women crisis pregnancy agency, which is situated right beside the Cabbagetown Women’s Clinic abortuary on Gerrard Street in Toronto. The agency, founded by Dick Cochrane, has saved the lives of well over 1,000 babies in the last 14 years.
Joanne’s daughter, Deny, is office manager at the Campaign Life Coalition national office, while her son, Adrian, gave an excellent speech at the national March for Life in Ottawa last year. So, for the Dielemans, each Canadian Reformed, it is “a family affair.”
Others I can mention are: Betty Green, president of Vancouver Right to Life; Shirley Witt of Lutherans for Life; Cindi and Phil Loforti of Niagara Falls, Ont.; and George Eygenraam, a member of the Christian Reformed Church and a faithful picketer outside Toronto abortuaries.
What inspired me to write this article is the experience of Bill Whatcott in Saskatchewan. Bill, a Lutheran and a registered practical nurse, was living in Toronto until a few years ago. He was very active in the pro-life movement while he was in Toronto.
To quote from LifeSite News of Nov. 11, 2001: “A municipal court in Regina has ordered Bill Whatcott of the Christian Truth Activists to pay a $90 fine by Dec. 31, or spend four days in jail, for distributing pro-life leaflets at the University of Regina. In May, university security ordered Whatcott to remove pro-life leaflets he had placed on car windshields. When Whatcott refused to remove the literature from the vehicles, campus security ticketed him with littering.”
Bill took the case to court, claiming it was a violation of his freedom of speech. Justice Bob Eaton ruled against him on Nov. 22. Bill said that as a matter of conscience, he would not pay the fine, since forbidding the distribution of pro-life information amounted to prohibiting free speech. He said he would rather accept the jail sentence.