Graphic Abortion Billboard Trucks Break Through Canada’s Media Blackout



By Hilary White

CALGARY, August 9, 2007 ( - In contrast with the media blackout that pro-life Canadians are used to expecting at their demonstrations, media coverage of the Reproductive Choice Campaign trucks rolling on Calgary streets this week has been lively. The trucks feature three-metre high photos of aborted children and an email address for more information.

Local papers and radio stations were joined by CBC and Global News who took video footage, while CTV News Calgary has run a two-minute television news spot three times in the last two days and included the sponsoring group’s website address. This coverage constitutes a frenzy compared to the nearly total media blackout that is traditional at pro-life events such as the annual March for Life event in Ottawa. 

The Calgary Sun headlined today’s article, "Graphic abortion images shock Calgarians" and carried the CTV story verbatim in print form. A smaller local paper, Fast Forward Weekly, ran the headline "Little truck of horrors" and quoted Stephanie Gray, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform, the truck’s sponsoring group, responding to the accusations of shocking onlookers. "If there is nothing wrong with abortion, the images shouldn’t bother them," she said.

A talk radio station, CHQR 770, has been broadcasting their report on the trucks every half hour from noon yesterday to five pm today. 630 CHED radio in Edmonton will carry a live 30-minute interview with Gray and she will be on 940 Montreal at 10:35 am EST for ten minutes.

CTV’s video spot, which is available online, clearly shows close-ups of the photos and reporter Najuma Yagzan says, "You can clearly distinguish a body, hands and feet."

Jose Ruba, a cofounder and staffer of CCBR who today drove the support car accompanying the trucks, told that this was likely the first time the GAP pictures had been seen on English-language Canadian television.

"We had the GAP photos in Ottawa in 2004 when Planned Parenthood was giving Henry Morgentaler a lifetime achievement award and the national French-language TV used the images. But even when the CBC covered the controversy over the GAP display at UBC [in 2000], they only filmed the GAP images from 30 or 40 feet away."

"The whole story at UBC then was about the signs, but they didn’t even show them. So today’s coverage from so many sources was a big win for us in that they showed the signs," Ruba said.

Onlookers interviewed by CTV agreed that the images are "shocking" but also that they depict something true. "I’ve had nothing to do with it personally, so you don’t think seriously about it, but looking at that, you can see the murder aspect of it all," one man said.

CTV offered a counter argument from a spokesman of Sexual Health Access Alberta (SHAA), but declined to mention that the group is an abortion advocating organization that until September 2006 was called Planned Parenthood Alberta. SHAA’s Executive Director, Laura Wershler, criticised the tactic saying, "In those circumstances there’s no opportunity for meaningful discussion or debate."

But Stephanie Gray told that she and her group were still waiting to hear back from Wershler on their offer of a public debate. Gray said, "I contacted Laura requesting a debate partner and I’m waiting to hear back from her and this is months ago."

CCBR said they contacted Wershler on November 16, 2006 on behalf of the pro-life club at the University of Calgary. "I emailed her a sample debate format and agreed that the debate should be a civil one with a neutral moderator."

"I’m still waiting to hear back from her," Gray said.

Wershler did not return calls from by deadline.

Onlookers interviewed by CTV, however, showed no signs of psychological trauma from seeing the photos. In one street interview, a young woman appeared unsettled but admitted that the images were depicting the reality of abortion, "To me, that’s really harsh, but that’s reality I guess. It’s what happens when you have an abortion. But, wow, that is graphic, yeah."

  See the CCBR website:

Read related coverage:

Billboard-Size Abortion Photos to be Shown throughout Canada as Trucks Take the Message to the Streets”>

Bloggers Trump Mainstream Media With YouTube Videos of Canadian March for Life…”>…

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