Linda Gibbons is one of those brave pro-lifers who attempt to counsel abortion-minded women on the sidewalk before they enter abortion facilities. I say brave because it takes something special to stand on the sidewalk, wait for women who may (or may not) be going into the abortion clinic and try to talk them into choosing life for their unborn child. It isn’t usually the women who are the problem for sidewalk counsellors, but the abortion staff, pro-abortion passers-by and the police, all of whom harass pro-life witnesses in the way that they claim pro-lifers harass women seeking an abortion.
In Ontario and British Columbia, sidewalk counselling is effectively against the law. In B.C., there is a law that forbids pro-life activity near abortion facilities and in Ontario there has been a “temporary” injunction in place since 1994. In Ontario, Linda Gibbons, who meekly asks women to think about their baby and offers help if they would reconsider and keep the child, has spent more than half of the past 15 years behind bars for alleged crimes tied to breaking the injunction. For the past 15 years, the mainstream media has largely ignored the story of Linda Gibbons, a prisoner of conscience who has never been charged with violating the injunction (for that would allow a challenge to the constitutionality of violating pro-life free speech and free assembly rights), but who has served time in jail awaiting trials for related charges (such as ignoring the commands of an officer).
On the weekend, the media blinders to the Gibbons story were removed. The National Post ran a long article by Charles Lewis. One might have niggling complaints about this or that, but overall the article is quite fair and worth reading. The story began on page one and was continued on two inside pages along with an accompanying article on the Ontario injunction. The latter article is weaker, doesn’t capture the injustice of the injunction, or the legal issues associated with the 16-year “temporary” injunction. Instead, it focuses on the conditions in the early 1990s — the days after dramatic clashes between police and Operation Rescue, the bombing of the Morgentaler clinic in Toronto, violence against abortionists in the United States — when the Bob Rae government sought the injunction; the abortion debate at the street level has changed dramatically since then, so it would have made some sense for reporter Charles Lewis to question the so-called need for the injunction in 2010.