Although attention has been focused almost exclusively on violence and harassment against abortionists in recent years, pro-life activists and supporters in both Canada and the US have also been regular recipients of various forms of abuse.
One of the most serious of these incidents took place in Baton Rouge, LA., in October 1994, when pro life protester Richard Mahoney was shot at while demonstrating outside the Delta Women’s Clinic. Ernest Robinson, 22, was charged afterward with second degree attempted murder. Mahoney escaped injury only because Robinson missed with the first shot and had his weapon jammed on the second.
In Canada, Vancouver pro-life activist Paul Neilsen has three times been the victim of firebomb attacks.
In 1988, his Vancouver East political campaign office was firebombed while he was running for office as a PC party candidate. In October and November 1993, someone threw military-style smoke bombs into his home on two occasions.
Vancouver police said the last attack could have proven fatal to the eight Nielson family members who were asleep in the home when the bomb came through a widow. Ted Gerk, of the Kelowna Right to Life Society, called the bombing a murder attempt on the family.
More recently, a development at the University of Buffalo in Buffalo, NY, saw an editor for the school’s student newspaper, The Spectrum, launched an invective in the publication against pro-life students. “Anti-choice zealots love to flash placards full or blood and guts at women on the way to their doctors,” wrote Michelle Goldberg. “If we educate women about health care, this propaganda couldn’t intimidate them.”
Goldberg called on students to fight back. “Just once, I’d like to see someone blow up one of their churches…This week is anti-choice week at UB. If you see one of them…do your part and spit at them. Kick them in the head.”
Pro-life lawyers, including some The American Centre for Law and Justice, became involved in the situation after pro-life students said they were fearful of pursuing further action because of threats of physical attack.
According to Rev. Ron Schenck, a Christian minister who became involved in the controversy, a statement issued by UB’s vice president of student affairs acknowledged that the incidents were “of great concern” to the university but is also suggested the pro-life student’s views were “morally repugnant or personally offensive to members of the university or the greater community.” The controversy continues.
Christianity Today magazine recently reported that visitors to the Christian Broadcasting Network’s 700 Club television program in Virginia Beach, VA, are required to pass though metal detectors before entering the facility. CBN founder Pat Robertson is a leading American pro-life supporter.
In Canada, pro-life activist say they have been targets of various forms of abuse.
“I’ve seen violence committed against pro-lifers, myself included,” says one pro-life leader. “I’ve had bricks thrown through my car windows, death threats left on my answering machine, and eggs thrown at me.”
Several years ago at the Human Life International Conventional Montreal, peaceful pro-life marchers were spat upon, and pelted with eggs and condoms filled with glass.
Ted Gerk, president of the Pro-Life Society of British Columbia and a former broadcast journalist, observes a discrepancy between media overage of incidents of violence against pro-life activists and abortionists.
“I notice when violence is directed against pro-lifers, the media take a different approach. They either ignore it totally or they go out of their way to make sure the whole pro-abortion movement is not tainted. The media have been extremely biased and unfair when it comes to any kind of violent episode (against pro lifers).
“There should be some fairness.”