On Saturday, June 24, 1900 people marched in Toronto in silent protest against the sweeping nature of the injunction granted Morgentaler. This injunction, invoked on April 13 and confirmed on May 5, 1989, makes it illegal to picket, demonstrate, make a nuisance, etc., within 150 meters. It also states that it is illegal for any person, including clergy to persuade a woman who has an appointment at the Morgentaler abortuary to break that “contract.”
Ostensibly, i.e., on the surface, it would seem that this order only refers to those protesting in the vicinity. However, the paragraph in the written injunction itself, which pertains to this order, contains no geographical limits. In theory, therefore, anyone in Ontario who counsels someone who has already made an appointment with Morgentaler not to proceed with the abortion may be charged under the injunction for helping to break the “contract” between Morgentaler and his patient.
The Toronto injunction is far more sweeping than the Vancouver one. The latter only prohibits blocking the entrance of the local abortuary. Peaceful picketing and counseling are still permitted in Vancouver. However, the Vancouver injunction, which was issued before the Toronto one, has undergone some changes of its own which indicate the growing assault upon the civil rights of pro-lifers: a) In late February 1989 Justice Josiah Wood, on the suggestion of now Supreme Court of Canada Justice – then B.C. Chief Justice – Beverley McLachlin (see The Interim, June 1989, p.7) changed the injunction from civil to criminal status; a criminal offence has more severe fines and prison terms. b) The Vancouver judges rejected the custom applied to all other prisoners, namely time off for good behavior. All pro-lifers have had to serve their full sentences. c) On July 11, 1989, Justice John Bouck changed the injunction once more. This time the requirement was removed that those arrested be brought before a judge “forthwith.” The law of habeas corpus requires that someone arrested be brought before a judge within 24 hours. Once more on the surface this applies to weekends, but in reality, once again no such limitation is acknowledged in writing. This leaves the injunction open to further abuse of pro-lifers.
District Court Judge Janet Scott rendered her judgment on the picketing of abortion doctors Norman Assad and Clifford Chan on July 4, but did not publish it until July 11. Newspapers reported that she had prohibited picketing of the abortionists’ offices within 150 meters. She also ordered their names removed from protest signs.
The Toronto Star (July 13 reported also that Judge Scott had said that the picketers’ use of the word “kill” on their signs was an accusation of an illegal or criminal act. “Their (the doctors’) activities in this regard were neither criminal nor illegal and to suggest otherwise is defamatory.” The Globe reported: “She also ordered them not to carry signs that suggest the doctors “kill unborn babies.”
Now to prohibit the use of the verb “to kill” is bad enough. We shall return to it. But first, please note that the injunction is much broader than the news reports make it appear. The following is the text of the injunction.
Reasons for Judgment
The Honorable Judge J. V. Scott: This is a motion for the following relief: (a) An interim order restraining, until the trial or other final disposition of this action, the Respondents and any agents, servants or other persons acting under their instructions or otherwise from:
(i) Exhibiting any sign or distributing any other printed or written material to the effect that either the Moving Party Dr. Assad or the Moving Party Dr. Chan kills unborn babies or containing any other defamatory statements of or concerning either of these Moving Parties or their practice; and
(ii) Entering upon the private premises municipally known as 715 and 725 Coronation Boulevard in the City of Cambridge, in the Regional Municipality of Waterloo by any means whatsoever except with the express consent of the Moving Parties; and
(iii) Molesting, speaking to, or approaching any person with a view to dissuading them from working for or from becoming a patient of either of the Moving Parties Dr. Assad or Dr. Chan by alleging that these Moving Parties kill unborn babies or by making any other defamatory statement of or concerning these Moving Parties or their practice; and,
(iv) Picketing on the sidewalk or other public area within 500 feet of the lands municipally described as 715 and 725 Coronation Boulevard in the City of Cambridge, in the Regional Municipality of Waterloo; and,
(v) Causing a nuisance within 500 feet of the lands municipally described as 715 and 725 Coronation Boulevard in the City of Cambridge, in the Regional Municipality of Waterloo. Limitations Notice that only paragraphs (ii), (iv) and (v) are limited by geographical restrictions.
Paragraph (iii) starts by condemning “molesting.” But then it quickly proceeds to include “speaking to” and “dissuading” anyone from becoming an employee or patient of these two doctors. This paragraph confirms the pro-life concerns about the nature of the injunction granted to Morgentaler. It carries the same sweeping attack on civil rights of pro-life people, namely the freedom to speak, counsel, advise.
Paragraph (i) contains the additional assault on freedom of expression in Canada peculiar to this judgment. Again, there is no geographical limitation to this prohibition not to use the word “kill.”
But even more importantly than the absence of any precise limits such as 150 meters, or the city of Cambridge, or any other such geographical restrictions, are the words “or distributing any other printed or written material to the effect” (that the doctors kill) “unborn babies.” The text of the injunction refers by name to two doctors who have offices in Cambridge, Ontario, Assad and Chan. Right to Life may not designate them as baby killers. What about a third doctor? What about distributing The Interim if it refers to Assad and Chan as doctors who kill unborn babies? What about any other agencies, for example, churches distributing such literature? Notice the instruction to the Waterloo Regional Police, which is “to gather evidence.”
The reaction of Cambridge Right to Life, predictably was one of anger. Their spokesman, Anneliese Steden, had pointed out earlier that legality is not the issue. “We never said they are doing anything illegal. We are saying they are doing something immoral.” (Kitchener-Waterloo Record, June 28, 1989)
Does anyone still remember how 20 years ago the Trudeau government swore high and low that legalizing abortions did not mean the government was asking for moral approval? Today expressions of moral disapproval are in danger of being forbidden by court injunction. Is this surprising? Not at all. The very logic of societal approval for the killing of the unborn demands it. Any by that same logic it is safe to prophesy that far worse is to come unless these attacks are exposed and rejected.
Meanwhile the reaction of Canada’s media to these assaults on civil rights has been as expected: total silence. Such silence, as everyone knows, betokens approval. Those who pursue illusory, non-existing rights, such as a woman’s right to kill her unborn baby, have no time or liking for the defense of real rights. Cambridge Right to Life will appeal the ruling. As a letter to the editor of the Kitchener Waterloo Record from R.C. Howard put it:
“All Canadians should be alarmed by the events reported in a July 12 Record report, “Illegal to Describe Abortion as Killing.”
“Judge Janet Scott is reported as saying, “To say that therapeutic abortions kill unborn babies is an accusation of murder – for which there is no legal justification.” Her judgment was not based on any principle of law so much as on a redefinition of words. A judge who changes the common meaning of words is, in my opinion, overstepping her authority.
Mr. Howard went on to say, “According to Webster’s dictionary, the word “kill” merely states the fact of putting to death as opposed to “murder,” which implies motive in a human criminal act. I might kill a mosquito. A water ban kills grass. My cousin was killed in the war. In none of these cases could the word “murder” be used instead of “kill.”
The offending placards read, “Stop killing unborn babies.” “Kill” is the correct word. If the fetus was alive before the abortion was performed and dead after, then the fetus must have been killed by the abortion. A fetus has been commonly called an “unborn baby” for decades. Therefore, it is correct to say that abortions kill unborn babies.
How can it be said that the Cambridge Right to Life Association was charging Dr. Assad and Dr. Chan with murder? One does not picket a murderer; one calls the police to make an arrest. The very fact of their picketing indicates that they acknowledge that no illegal act is being committed.”
From the office of Paul C. Formby, Barrister and Solicitor in Vancouver, The Interim has received the following information.
Since January there have been 13 rescues at the Vancouver abortuary and 136 convictions for contempt of court. Of these convictions 13 were for civil contempt for the rescue on January 21, 1989, and 123 were for criminal contempt for rescues since that date.
Of the 136 convictions, 9 were repeat rescuers and they were James Hanlon, Karen Hanlon, David Forsyth, Rosemary Hanlon, Laird Swanson, Kathy Davies, Cliff Coutts, Malinda Anderson and Corrina Larsen.
David Forsyth was released from prison on the morning of June 6 after serving a three months sentence. The same morning, he returned to the abortuary to rescue, where he was arrested. He was tried on June 15 and sentenced by Judge Gibbs to four months in prison.
Presently (July 18, 1989) there are 25 rescuers in jail for their attempts to save unborn babies.
Those who are still in jail for the unborn need your prayers and support. Please pray for them and please write to them. The addresses of various institutions are as follows:
Twin Maples Correctional Centre, Box 100, Maple Ridge, B.C. V2X 7E9.
Lakeside Correctional Centre, 5700 Royal Oak, Burnaby, B.C. V5H 3N4.
Marpole Community Correctional Centre, 8982 Hudson Street, Vancouver, B.C.
Prisoners of Conscience
The names follow below: (Lakeside Correctional Centre)
Age Term Release date
Malinda Anderson, Burnaby 18 4 mos. Aug. 26
Corrina Larsen, Burnaby 20 4 mos. Aug. 26
Doreen Wright, Vancouver 72 3 mos. Oct. 3
Christine Hendrix, Surrey 58 25 days to be tried
Frances Butt, Richmond 61 to be tried
Hubertina Polsliet, Richmond 63 to be tried
Twin Maples Correctional Centre
Maybelle Nordick, Kamloops 59 3 mos. Oct. 9
Helen Thibeault, Vancouver 56 3 mos. Oct. 9
Patricia Wagner, Burnaby 26 3 mos. Oct. 9
Susan Warrington, N. Vancouver 28 3 mos. Aug. 4
Rebecca Ottawa, Vernon 34 5 mos. Dec. 13
Lucille Burke, Kelowna 33 5 mos. Dec. 13
Deanne Kondrat, Vernon 21 5 mos. Dec. 13
Nancy Van Aert, Surrey 21 5 mos. Dec. 13
Teresa Van Tunen, Langley 20 5 mos. Dec. 13
Oakalla Correctional Centre
James Hanlon, Langley 23 3 mos. Mar. 7
Paul Jackson, Fruitvale 34 6 mos. Jan. 13
Tim Vincent, Nelson 20 3 mos. Oct. 11
Barry Stack, Vancouver ? to be tried
Don Spratt, Surrey 37 25 days to be tried
Dave Forsyth, Burnaby 33 4 mos. Oct. 14
Bill Benson, Vancouver 34 3 mos. Oct. 3
Laird Swanson, Vancouver ? 4 mos. Aug. 2
Byron Samson, Vancouver ? 3 mos. Aug. 3
Unless our judges have a change of heart, it appears that nothing said either by the rescuers, or on their behalf in court, will deter the judges from imposing sentences, which are increasingly more severe. Those sentenced on May 1 for the April 13 rescue received two months’ imprisonment. Those sentenced on May 5 for the April 27 rescue received three months’ imprisonment. David Forsyth, who was sentenced on June 15 for his June 6 rescue, received four months. It would appear that those convicted for a next rescue will either receive four or five months.
Despite the plight of the unborn babies being killed and the efforts of the rescuers to save them, the court is seeking absolute compliance with their order and it appears that they will stop at nothing to protect the abortionists’ businesses. Mr. Arvay was absolutely right. The law sees no difference between seal pups, cultured trees and unborn babies.
However the sacrifices of rescuers have not been in vain. If the courts are unwilling to give witness to the worth of human life by either shutting down the abortuaries, or by setting aside the injunction, then at least the actions and sacrifices of the rescuers serve to uphold the worth of human life in the minds of the public.
The letter goes on to explain that the pro-life lawyers are seeking to appeal the judgments. The justification for this is that “We are faced already with many higher court adversarial judgments to the unborn. Before civil disobedience can be justified it is mandatory that we exhaust our legal remedies.
“Furthermore, we have the opportunity of bringing public opinion more against the courts should they fail to grant justice to the unborn.”