July 13, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Forty-two years ago, a group of civil rights activists calling themselves “Furious Women” traveled across Canada to demand legal and unrestricted access to abortion—and its sponsorship by the state. Eighteen years later, their Abortion Caravan achieved its goals with the 1988 Supreme Court Morgentaler decision that wiped Canada’s abortion law from the books.
Now, after twenty-four years of unrestricted access to abortion, a New Abortion Caravan made its way across the country. On May 29th members of the new Caravan stood in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery on the same steps where the Furious Women had stood in 1970. But this time, instead of a black coffin filled with coat hangers, the young men and women of the New Abortion Caravan stood beside pictures of the bloodied and tangled remains of aborted babies.
“If we do not show the pictures,” said Jonathon Van Maren, Communications Director of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, “the victims will remain out of sight. Injustice that is invisible inevitably becomes tolerable.”
But he added that the opposite is also true: “injustice that is visible inevitably becomes intolerable.”
The founders of The New Abortion Caravan, a project of CCBR’s EndtheKilling campaign, say they hope to redeem the old Abortion Caravan and reverse its effects—in 18 years. “That’s our deadline for the pro-life movement to end abortion in Canada,” said Stephanie Gray, Co-Founder and Executive Director. “We’re convinced this new abortion caravan is the beginning of the end.”
The caravan stopped in sixteen cities and five provinces, culminating in Ottawa on Canada Day. Carrying a small white coffin filled with miniature plastic foetuses, the young volunteers walked to 24 Sussex Drive in a funeral procession for the hundreds of thousands of babies killed each year in Canada.
“Just as the women of the 1970 caravan brought a coffin to the prime minister’s home, so are we bringing one,” said Stephanie Gray. “We are presenting Prime Minister Harper, as the elected leader of our country, with a child’s coffin representing the pre-born Canadians his government and governments preceding have failed so badly.”
Along either side of the coffin, volunteers stood holding signs showing the remains of abortion victims. Their truck was parked just down the street, its sides covered with similar pictures. The signs on the trucks often underline the ironic contradictions of the pro-abortion culture: one sign shows a pregnant woman smoking opposite an aborted foetus with the tagline, “Smoking harms babies; abortion kills them.”
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The signs are not pleasant—but they are not meant to be. Stephanie Gray explained that their purpose is to “contrast the beauty of the unborn child with the ugliness of abortion. We are unmasking choice, opening the casket on abortion.”
Abortion advocates are not the only ones who do not want to see inside that coffin. Within the pro-life movement itself, the New Abortion Caravan has met with resistance and hesitation. Won’t the pictures hurt women? Don’t they abuse the dignity of the dead child? Aren’t they too awful for anyone to see?
The CCBR’s answer is a firm No. “If we can’t face this,” said Gray, “we can’t fight it. People aren’t fighting abortion because they have never been faced by it.”
For the same reason, people are having abortions. When Van Maren began working with the New Abortion Caravan, a girl who had undergone an abortion three weeks earlier came up to him. “Nobody showed me what abortion looks like,” she said.
It is exactly through showing visibly and undeniably the truth of abortion that the New Abortion Caravan intends to change hearts and save lives: just like William Wilberforce circulated diagrams of slave ships with blacks packed like cargo into the hold—which resulted in the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833. Just like Lewis Hine photographed child factory workers, who worked eighteen-hour days and were sometimes crushed in the machinery—until child labour laws were instituted in 1938. Just like Emmett Till’s mother insisted on an open casket funeral to show how segregation in the south had led to her son being beaten, beyond recognition, to death—and one hundred days later in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat.
Gray closed her comments with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”: “Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.”
“Here’s the good news,” said Gray. “It can be cured, and it will be cured in our lifetime.”
The New Abortion Caravan ended its journey in Ottawa on Canada Day. You can learn more about their efforts here.