Tony Gosgnach

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Abortionist takes the witness stand at Mary Wagner trial

Tony Gosgnach
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TORONTO, ON, December 9, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a rare occurrence, an abortionist took the witness stand last Friday during the continuation of the trial of Mary Wagner and, in doing so, offered some startlingly direct insights into an abortionist’s psyche and practices.

Saira Markovic is described as the “medical director” of the Women’s Care Clinic abortion centre on Lawrence Avenue West in Toronto, which was established in 1996 amidst pro-life protests outside its doors. It was there that Wagner was arrested on August 15, 2012 and charged with mischief and three counts of failing to comply with probation orders, for allegedly entering and trying to counsel pregnant women inside the facility to choose life for their babies.

According to the abortion facility’s Google Plus page, Markovic has been the recipient of the National Abortion Federation’s C. Lalor Burdick Award for “unsung heroes of the pro-choice movement,” served as a medical director of Toronto’s “Morgentaler Clinic” abortion site and helped in the establishment of Morgentaler abortion centres in Ottawa and Frederiction.

Further information on the centre’s website says she “specializes in larger pregnancies from 16 to 20 weeks (a three-day procedure)” and provides “a safe and gentle process lasting two to four minutes which may enable the patient to have healthy future pregnancies.”

Yet, on the witness stand under questioning from Wagner’s defence counsel Dr. Charles Lugosi, Markovic attempted to downplay her specialization in later-term abortions, suggesting most of the ones she commits are on five- to six-week-old “embryos.” She said she also performs some on 10- to 11-week-old “fetuses,” but made no mention of the 16-20 week range.

“For me, it is a baby after birth, when they take their first breath. Beforehand, it is a fetus,” said Markovic. She did acknowledge that some unborn babies have heartbeats.

Lugosi’s lines of questioning drew constant objections from Crown attorney Tracey Vogel, who called Markovic as a Crown witness and attempted to keep questioning strictly within the confines of Wagner’s alleged disruption of the abortion centre.

“This is a side argument … Was the clinic interfered with? Period. End of question. … The question is: did she interfere with the lawful enjoyment of property?”

Lugosi countered that Wagner’s defence revolves around the position that she was acting under Section 37 of the Criminal Code in attempting to rescue human beings from death. Section 37 justifies actions to defend "any one" under a person's protection from assault. Lugosi is contending that "any one" includes unborn children.

Lugosi began his cross-examination by inquiring how many women Markovic’s centre saw the day Wagner appeared onsite. Markovic first refused to answer the question, citing confidentiality, but after being ordered to answer by Judge Fergus O’Donnell, she said the number was 30.

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Lugosi referred to the centre’s website, which states that even 12-year-olds can avail themselves of its services – and without parental knowledge. Markovic confirmed that was indeed the case, with 14-years-olds undergoing abortions the very day Wagner was there – including one, she said, who was raped.

Although she believes in choice, Markovic said she won’t allow pro-life literature of the kind carried by Wagner in her facility because the information contained therein is not correct. “I studied embryology. That’s not how (the fetus) looks.” She also rejected the assertions of famed geneticist Dr. Jerome Lejeune that the preborn are human.

Instead, her centre gives women a one-page information sheet of its own. “They read all the information, how we do it, the complications that can happen.” The sheet, which has to be signed by the patient in acknowledgement of being read, includes the possibility of death as a complication and has been reviewed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Lugosi asked whether Markovic tells her patients that abortion kills an unborn human being. Markovic replied with a smirk: “What do you think? I never tell them that.” He then asked whether she tells them she is simply removing tissue. Markovic replied in the affirmative. In response to another question, she said “some” women call back for post-abortion counselling and are referred to competent personnel outside her centre for that.

Handed a pamphlet entitled “When Life Begins,” Markovic replied angrily: “The patients don’t come to hear about embryology. They come for an abortion … They don’t need my voice teaching embryology … The majority of patients know what they want. … They don’t come to me for housing, they come for an abortion … They want an abortion, not anything else … It’s my abortion clinic, it’s not a school.”

Markovic said she and her staff do check thoroughly for “tissue” remaining to ensure a complete abortion. “You do your job 100 per cent. You have to look at the ultrasound. You have to do the perfect job … I can stay until midnight to do abortions, okay?” She added she began committing abortions in Canada in 1988 and never makes a mistake.

“My house is my clinic, this is my life … Someone (Wagner) came illegally inside my house … It’s not normal … Why is someone invading my house, my property?”

Markovic claimed that Wagner called women baby killers, but then backtracked to say she told women they were killing their babies. “She’s imposing her beliefs on my patients,” said Markovic, who revealed she used to be Muslim but is not anymore, while her husband Michael, office manager for the abortion centre, is a Catholic.

Lugosi referred to an affidavit filed by Wagner in which she stated an older person on Markovic’s staff called her a “psycho” and told her to “go f--- yourself.” Markovic denied she used those terms and said the only other person in that age category is “a lovely girl who goes to church every Sunday.”

Lugosi then pulled out a “to whom it may concern” letter signed by Markovic that charged Wagner “attacked” and “assaulted” her patients, but Markovic clarified that the incidents described were verbal and not physical in nature.

Earlier, under questioning from Vogel – and after swearing an oath on the Bible – Markovic claimed the “disruption” caused by Wagner’s appearance and loud praying onsite upset her patients and caused her to fear making a mistake such as perforating a uterus. The disruption lasted five to six minutes, she estimated, and she later saw roses scattered on the floor. From five to seven patients later called back for post-abortion counselling following the incident. Usually, she claimed, only about one patient a year calls back for such counselling.

The day’s hearing concluded with the beginning of testimony by another Crown witness, Jane Yoon, a 25-year-old nursing student at the University of Toronto, who served as a receptionist for a year and a half at Markovic’s abortion centre. She said on the day in question, she saw Wagner crouched in front of a patient in the waiting room, speaking and holding a rose in her hand.

Yoon said she asked Wagner three times to leave and was told she should find another job. The centre’s nurse manager came out and also asked her to leave. The pair then used “necessary physical force” to remove Wagner from the area, but did not hurt her, she said.

Asked to describe what force was used, Yoon wanted to refer to written notes she made about the incident on December 30, 2012 and December 2, 2013 – four and 16 months later, respectively. The second set of notes was made with the assistance of Vogel and Detective Constable Tammy Shewchenko of the Toronto Police Service. Lugosi objected, arguing that notes made for the refreshment of memory must be composed contemporaneously to the event in question. O’Donnell turned down the objection, however, and allowed Yoon to use the notes.

Yoon went on to describe the physical force as “pulling.” The incident lasted 10-15 minutes in all.

Court adjourned after a long day to reconvene this week with Yoon returning to the witness stand to continue her testimony under questioning from Vogel. Lugosi then will cross-examine her.

Supporters of Wagner are hoping that pro-life supporters will attend the hearings, saying the case is a vital one for the pro-life cause and a full courtroom makes the point that there is wide interest in the matter. If Wagner is successful in her planned constitutional challenge, it could have the effect of altering Canadian law regarding abortion and provide legal protection to at least some unborn human beings, rather than none as is currently the case.

The next hearings in the trial will be this coming Wednesday and Thursday, December 11 and 12, in Room 310 of the Ontario Court of Justice, 1000 Finch Avenue West near Dufferin Street in Toronto. The hearings are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., but will likely start closer to 11 a.m. on account of Lugosi’s having to travel in from out of the city.

A defence fund has been established to absorb the considerable costs of Wagner’s planned constitutional challenge. See this previous Lifesite article for details.

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