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One of Dr. Sacco's iconic photos of an aborted baby.Dr. Russell Sacco

CALGARY, Alberta (LifeSiteNews) — Canada’s top pro-life group has warned that free speech is under “attack” after the city of Calgary announced Tuesday that anyone who distributes pro-life flyers to people’s homes not concealed in an envelope with a “warning” label on the front could be fined thousands of dollars. 

In a press release Tuesday, Calgary officials announced that the city approved an “amendment to the Calgary Community Standards Bylaw” which it claims will “help protect people from viewing graphic images of fetuses when delivered to their homes.” 

The new rule is effective “immediately” and states that flyers that have graphic images of aborted babies, or “fetuses” as it says, “must be concealed in an opaque envelope, with a graphic content warning, and include the name and address of the sender, when delivered to homes.” 

Calgary bylaw 22M2023 was rushed through its first to third readings and then passed all on the same day, but the bylaw has been in the works for some time.  

Calgary city council last November approved a motion brought forth by Calgary’s Ward 2 Councilor Jennifer Wyness directing its managers to draft a bylaw that would severely limit the distribution of pro-life flyers to people’s homes. This motion was unanimously passed with the full support of the city’s left-leaning mayor, Jyoti Gondek. 

Wyness said, as noted in the press release, that the city wanted to “uphold the freedom of advocacy groups to express their opinions” but also wanted to “balance our responsibility to protect communities.” 

“As a society, we accept that not all content is appropriate for everyone, which is why we have R-ratings for disturbing or mature films, for example. These pamphlets fall under that same category and it’s reasonable to ask that they come with a content warning,” she said.  

Those found to violate the new rule can face fines of up to $1,000 per violation, and the city has promised to “investigate” and enforce the bylaw.  

Said the city, if “Calgarians receive a flyer with a graphic image of a fetus that is not enclosed in an envelope, with both a warning label and sender’s address, they may call 311 to report it.”

Free speech under ‘attack’ says Canada’s top pro-life group  

Canada’s top pro-life group, Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), warned that Calgary’s new rule restricting the distribution of pro-life flyers is a direct attack on Canadians’ “free speech.” 

“Shame on Calgary City Council for wanting to, what it calls, ‘protect people’ from viewing abortion victim images while ignoring the real issue at hand, namely that preborn babies are the ones who need to be protected from abortion,” CLC’s Director of Communications Pete Baklinski told LifeSiteNews. 

“Pro-life free speech is under attack like never before. Every Canadian, including pro-life Canadians, have the right to freedom of speech as guaranteed by the Charter. No city council can take that right away.” 

Baklinski told LifeSiteNews that the Calgary bylaw in effect has “illegally” outlawed “the right of pro-lifers to express their beliefs,” and it must be “legally challenged and overturned.” 

He added that the city of Calgary is at least correct in pointing out that “these graphic images are ‘disturbing and painful,’ but this is simply because abortion is a horrifyingly disturbing procedure,” which he noted targets and “brutally” destroys the youngest members of the human family. 

Last year, lawyer Marty Moore with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) told LifeSiteNews that, from a constitutional perspective, “there are serious concerns with Calgary City Council’s move to place restrictions on pro-life mailbox flyers.” 

Moore told LifeSiteNews that as a preliminary constitutional issue, Calgary “does not have jurisdiction to enact restrictions for the purpose of expressing moral condemnation on certain kinds of expression.”  

‘Abortion victim photography’ works ‘extremely well in waking people up’ to horrors of abortion  

In speaking with LifeSiteNews, Baklinski defended the use of “abortion victim photography,” which he noted “works extremely well in waking people up to the gruesome reality that abortion kills children.” 

“The images show the face of ‘choice.’ Seeing what abortion actually looks like stirs the conscience, moving the viewer to recognize the humanity of these tiny persons and to be appalled at the injustice that they suffer,” said Baklinski. 

“So many people, when they see what abortion really looks like, suddenly don’t support abortion anymore. And that’s why abortion activists despise these images. They want to do everything in their power to get rid of them, cover them up, and hide them. They don’t want the public to see the reality of abortion and turn against it.” 

Baklinski said Calgary city officials should instead be standing up for the “true victims,” who are “the preborn children targeted for extermination.” 

“Calgary City Council is standing with abortion activists in covering up and hiding this greatest crime against humanity which is abortion. Calgary City Council is guilty of covering up the abortion holocaust,” he observed.  

The timing of Calgary passing its ban on pro-life flyers comes at the same time thousands of Canadians take to the streets today in Ottawa for the March for Life, to show their support for the unborn. 

CLC has an online tool to contact one’s city councilor.