Pro-lifers launch cheeky New Abortion Caravan
In 1970, a group of pro-abortion feminists from the Vancouver Women’s Caucus met in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery to begin a journey across Canada in a caravan. Using images of coffins and coat hangers, participants aimed to eliminate Canada’s abortion laws and win the “right” to free abortion on demand. They stopped in cities along the way to spread their message and recruit sympathizers. They reached Ottawa on the Mother’s Day weekend and succeeded in shutting down Parliament for 30 minutes.
According to The Toronto Star, there was a two-day rally attended by hundreds of women on Parliament Hill. About 50 of them were able to enter the viewing gallery in the House of Commons and chain themselves to the chairs. One even threw a water bomb at the benches where the government was sitting. They first drew attention inside the building when they disrupted parliamentary proceedings by attempting to deliver a speech from the viewing gallery. At the prime minister’s residence, 24 Sussex Drive, Pierre Trudeau was burned in effigy and a coffin was left at his door.
Abortion advocates claim that the caravan and rally brought the abortion issue to national attention. “One lesson of the Abortion Caravan is that in political action and social struggle you have to take risks,” Canadian feminist and abortion activist Judy Rebick told This Magazine. “They put abortion on the map.” At the time, abortions were subject to hospital abortion committees (that often rubber-stamped abortion requests, but which abortion advocates said was an undue burden on women). The protestors eventually succeeded in their mission when the abortion law was struck down in 1988.The Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR) launched another campaign, The New Abortion Caravan, which involves over 20 people, 19-36 years old, driving trucks with 7-foot tall and 22-foot long pictures of aborted children. As part of the initiative, they will also hold demonstrations on street corners with graphic images, give presentations, and send out postcards. Their signs include a picture of a 24-week old aborted child that says, “if sex-selection abortions are wrong, why not all abortions?” Another has a 9-week old abortion victim next to a pregnant woman with a cigarette, with a caption stating, “Cigarettes Hurt Babies. Abortions Kill Them.” The journey of the New Abortion Caravan started on May 29 in Vancouver. It drove across Canada and ended its journey in Ottawa on Canada Day. It is a part of the CCBR’s End the Killing campaign announced in 2011 that aims to eliminate abortion within 20 years.
Stephanie Gray, the executive director of the CCBR, told The Interim that the group decided to recycle the feminist abortion caravan because “it was such a catalyst for achieving change” and “it directly engaged the culture and forced the public … to consider the issue.”
Unfortunately, the feminists’ cause was ultimately harmful and unjust. Although such a campaign may pose a backlash from society or pro-abortion advocates, that is “the nature of social change” and “there’s no way we can achieve the culture of life without a fight.” She reports that The New Abortion Caravan is uniting the pro-life movement across the country because the CCBR was working with local pro-life groups as they travelled across the country.
There were signs of anger from some pro-choice activists at the launching of the caravan. They tried to shout down Canadian singer Mark Donnelly when he sang the national anthem. One activist took off all his clothes. Another smashed a side mirror from the group’s truck with a bike lock. A Facebook group was also created to try to have Professor Alexander Moens from Simon Fraser University disciplined for speaking at the launching event. Stephanie Gray explained to The Interim that these reactions are a sign of the pro-abortion side “not being confident in their view.”
Jonathan Van Maren reported on the CCBR’s blog that the caravan has also caught the attention of Joyce Arthur, head of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, who called it “The New Abortion Crapavan” and “sacrilege” for daring to model the pro-life initiative on the original caravan. Also, Margo Dunn, one of the original abortion caravan protestors, told Chris Walker of CBC Radio One that the new campaign was “horrifying.”
The Canadian Auto Workers, the country’s largest private-sector union, vowed to lead counter-protests at every stop the New Abortion Caravan made. Julie White, CAW’s director of women’s programs, said original caravan “would lay the groundwork that would see the legalization of a woman’s right to choose” but the new caravan “wants to take away our rights using fear, guilty, and shock tactics.”
Gray said, “The old Abortion Caravan brought us abortion, which decapitates, dismembers, and disembowels pre-born Canadian children. We seek to redeem history.”
In Thunder Bay, Ont., protestors assaulted members of the New Abortion Caravan by dumping a container of chocolate milk on several pro-lifers.