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Genevieve Carson of Mississauga 40 Days for Life speaks to committee on Liberal bill banning pro-life witness at abortion centers.
Lianne Laurence Lianne Laurence Follow Lianne

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Pro-life activist gives powerful witness against ‘repressive’ Ontario abortion bill

Lianne Laurence Lianne Laurence Follow Lianne

TORONTO, October 23, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — A 40 Days for Life organizer urged the Ontario government to reconsider a bill criminalizing pro-life speech and expression outside abortion centers, pointing out that five women decided against abortion because of the pro-life vigil outside the abortion facility in her area.

“Is that such a horrible thing? That we quietly witness to the sacredness of each and every human life? That we be allowed to remain as the last opportunity a woman has to consider her options?” Genevieve Carson asked the government committee during Thursday’s public hearings on Bill 163.

“Of course the abortion providers don’t want us there! It’s awkward. It exposes them and makes people a little more aware of what is being done behind the clinic doors for money,” said Carson, coordinator of Mississauga 40 Days for Life.

“Woman who are making such a grave decision deserve every chance to reconsider. After all, the staff at the clinic will not tell them how developed their baby is; they won’t encourage a women to hear that rapidly beating heart or see her baby doing somersaults on an ultrasound screen.”

Introduced October 4 by Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, Bill 163 is set to pass no later than Wednesday after opposition parties Progressive Conservatives and ND parties reached a deal with the governing Liberals to fast-track the legislation.

The far-reaching bill automatically criminalizes all pro-life activity, even showing “disapproval” of abortion, within 50 meters of eight abortion centers in Ontario, a distance that can be increased to 150 meters on request.

The bill also allows pharmacies, hospitals, and healthcare facilities that do abortions — including the abortion pill — to apply for access zones of up to 150 meters.

Bill 163 also automatically bans all pro-life speech and witness within 150 meters of the homes of abortion providers, and abortion center staff, a zone that moves with them wherever they are.

“I beg you to reconsider this bill. It is repressive. It is overkill,” Carson told the committee.

“The only violence occurring at our vigil site is what is being perpetrated inside the clinic to those innocent babies. They have no voice, no balance of power. Our earliest feminist writers all called abortion like it is: the ultimate form of oppression.”

Earlier in the afternoon, the committee heard from Joyce Arthur of the BC-based Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, who mentioned Mississauga 40 Days for Life as among the “anti-choice” protestors allegedly causing such difficulties.

“The anti-choice 40 Days for Life campaign stages ongoing demonstrations outside abortion clinics,” Arthur said.

“This is happening right now continuing to November the 5th,” Arthur charged, adding that “clinics have to prepare for this” and that protesters engage in “some harassment, handing out brochures.”

The Mississauga Women’s Clinic told her “protesters during 40 days for life protesters are active daily, the number increase to only 10, come up to cars with their signs,” Arthur said.

Carson, however, gave a completely different picture.

“I cannot stress to you enough that in seven years we have never had an incident of aggression or intimidation at the vigil site,” she told the committee.

“The odd person may shoot the middle finger as they drive by, but usually the response is positive.”

Volunteers with 40 Days for Life “sign a Statement of Peace. We promise to adhere to a strict code of conduct, whereby we don’t argue, we remain silent,” she said.

Carson related that “a very good friend of mine was praying alone one day, holding his sign, when a car pulled over. The driver blasted the horn and was shouting out his car window.”

The driver told her friend: “You saved one today! My girlfriend saw you there and decided to keep the kid,’” Carson said.

Indeed, 40 Days for Life, a silent vigil of prayer outside abortion centers, has “managed to close down 90 abortion clinics, convince 154 abortion clinic staff to quit and save 13,553 babies to date,” she told the committee.

Committee members had no questions for Carson.

The committee heard from eight abortion advocacy groups, including Arthur’s, one pro-abortion Ottawa city councillor, and five pro-life groups.

Bill 163 passed second reading 85-1, with independent MPP Jack MacLaren, a member of the Trillium Party, casting the sole vote against.

Final vote on the bubble zone law is expected on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week.

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Read Carson’s presentation in full:

Good afternoon. My name is Genevieve Carson and today I come to speak to you as an organizer of the annual 40DFL grassroots Campaign that is currently taking place in cities all over the world and specifically in nine locations throughout Ontario. I’ve been involved in each of the seven vigils held so far in my home of Mississauga.

What exactly IS 40 Days for Life? How is it that this effort has managed to close down 90 abortion clinics, convince 154 abortion clinic staff to quit and save 13,553 babies to date?  

Quite simply, it is the quiet, peaceful demeanor of thousands of everyday people who decide to make themselves present outside a place where abortions are performed. It is men and women like me who take very seriously the words of Christ who said “whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, you do to Me.”  

Consciences stirred, we sign a Statement of Peace. We promise to adhere to a strict code of conduct, whereby we don’t argue, we remain silent, etc…  

We pick up beautiful, life-affirming signs that say things like “You are Precious and So Is Your Baby” “Choose Love, Choose Life” and “Pregnant? Need Help” and we provide a list of resources where a mom in crisis can get support if she chooses not to abort that day.  

For 12 hours everyday for 40 days, we try to keep a constant presence of people at the vigil site praying resolutely for:

  • The women who are at risk of aborting;

  • the innocent babies whose very lives are threatened;

  • the men and women who carry the pain of past abortions;

  • those who work at abortion facilities;

  • our legislators who were elected to protect lives;

  • people who know the truth about this institutionalized human rights violation to speak up;

  • Repentance of our nation.

I cannot stress to you enough, that in seven years we have never had an incident of aggression or intimidation at the vigil site.

The odd person may shoot the middle finger as they drive by, but usually the response is positive. Yesterday, when I went after school, two doctors came out of the building to cross over to Trillium hospital. They smiled as they passed and one said genuinely “God bless you.” One day when I was there a woman came out of the medical building and asked if she could join us on her lunch hour.  

She works for a psychiatrist in the building who conveyed to her he was glad for our presence as he deals with women who regret past abortions.

A very good friend of mine was praying alone one day, holding his sign, when a car pulled over. The driver blasted the horn and was shouting out his car window.

My friend at first thought he was being harassed, but he was beckoned over only to be told: “You saved one today! My girlfriend saw you there and decided to keep the kid.”  So many stories.

To date, there have been five babies saved that we know of, five women who changed their minds and chose to seek an alternative to having their babies destroyed.

Is that such a horrible thing? That we quietly witness to the sacredness of each and every human life? That we be allowed to remain as the last opportunity a woman has to consider her options?   

Of course the abortion providers don’t want us there! It’s awkward. It exposes them and makes people a little more aware of what is being done behind the clinic doors for money. Woman who are making such a grave decision deserve every chance to reconsider. After all, the staff at the clinic will not tell them how developed their baby is; they won’t encourage a women to hear that rapidly beating heart or see her baby doing somersaults on an ultrasound screen.

They certainly aren’t going to elaborate on the many physical and psychological risks involved in abortion. That would be extremely bad for business. But if we are really advocates of choice, why is this government so biased toward the abortion industry?

If this government cares about protecting peoples’ rights, including the right to assemble and expression as guaranteed under the Charter, why is it implementing "Bubble Zones” —a massive over response to a problem which does not exist?

Participants in 40DFL are not abusive, harassing or threatening. As a woman, as a mother, as an educator, as a person of Faith, as a law-abiding citizen, I resent the implication that being pro-life make people like me seem somehow dangerous.  

I beg you to reconsider this bill. It is repressive. It is overkill. The only violence occurring at our vigil site is what is being perpetrated inside the clinic to those innocent babies. They have no voice, no balance of power. Our earliest feminist writers all called abortion like it is:  the ultimate form of oppression.    

I urge you to scrap Bill 163 and let’s really dialogue on this important issue. Allow us to at least continue to pray and advocate for the babies in the womb and for their moms who are in difficulty.

You can make a difference!

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