On January 31, Teens Rescuing Unborn Tiny Humans (TRUTH), held their eighth rescue at the Colodny abortuary in Toronto.
TRUTH has been rescuing babies and mothers since July 1989. The first two rescues were held at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Kitchener. Subsequent rescues have been held at either the Colodny or Buruiana abortuaries in Toronto.
Colodny’s “The Women’s Choice Health Clinic” is located in a medical centre on a downtown street. The location presents a challenge to rescuers, for they must take care not to interrupt bona fide medical services in the building. TRUTH has always been sensitive to this when rescuing babies and their mothers at this abortuary.
The January 31 action was no exception to the peaceful and effective conduct of the group. However, a new strategy was used. Instead of sitting in the hallway to block the office door, TRUTH members waited until a fellow member, playing the part of a “patient”, approached. At 8:20 a.m. the door was opened and eighteen members of the group followed the “patient” inside.
They proceeded to occupy the waiting room of the abortuary. An eyewitness told The Interim that “They sat around the office, some on the floor, some handcuffed to chairs, and one fastened to a chair by a kryptonite lock. All were quiet and prayerful.”
When the police arrived and warned them of their impending arrest and the seriousness of the charges that would be laid, the group remained undaunted. Their general sentiments were best expressed by one youthful rescuer: “If Jesus could suffer on the cross, we can suffer for the babies. With all due respect officer, we cannot leave on our own accord.”
Meanwhile, a group of twenty picketed outside. Designated counselors talked to women approaching the “clinic.” When gently confronted with the reality of abortion, and its adverse affects on women, four mothers turned away.
Later in the week, a couple phoned one of the counselors to thank her for intervening to save their baby. They reassured her that they would definitely not have the abortion. (They will be provided with the necessary resources for themselves and the baby.)
Police carried the rescuers down the stairs and dragged them into waiting paddy wagons. When asked by The Interim about their treatment at the hands of the police one rescuer stated. “We prayed that the police would not be too brutal. They were actually pretty good, they only twisted our wrists.” The rescuer locked to the chair presented a challenge to the police. A locksmith was eventually called, and it was not until noon that she was finally removed from the chair.
Thirteen young offenders, and five eighteen year-olds were charged with mischief and forcible entry upon arriving at the police station. To source their release from custody each “offender” was asked to sign that he or she would not go within one hundred meters of any of the four abortuaries in the Toronto. Additional conditions were imposed upon out-of-town members. They are forbidden to come to Toronto except for court appearances or medical emergencies pending trial.
Owing to previous rescue-related offences, four of the group were not given the option to sign out; one refused. Consequently, they were held in custody overnight. Two girls were held at the Vanier Centre in Brampton, two eighteen-year-olds were kept at the Metro West Detention Centre, and a twelve-year-old boy was held at a juvenile detention centre in Toronto.
When asked by the Interim about their experiences in jail, one of the girls stated, “The inmates called us ‘square’, but they were nicer than the guards.” The young man admitted that he had been roughed up by another inmate, but asserted that he was fine.
In spite of their ordeal, TRUTH remains committed to saving babies and their mothers. They regard their jail stay as a necessary sacrifice in the ongoing struggle to end abortion.
Anne Ryan is a freelance writer and university student living in Toronto.