Judge bans pro-life media from exposing abortion workers
TORONTO, June 14, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — A judge has banned media from identifying abortion center workers who testified in court against pro-life activist Mary Wagner.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Ian Nordheimer granted the temporary ban after a closed “emergency” hearing with the Liberal government’s lawyers Monday.
LifeSiteNews has been fighting the Ontario Crown’s application for a publication ban since last month, but was prevented from arguing the Crown’s emergency motion because of the last-minute notice.
Meanwhile, the lead witness, whose name cannot be identified under the emergency ban, testified in Wagner’s trial Tuesday that she forcibly removed Wagner from the abortion facility even though the police had been called.
“I don’t believe I am breaking the law, I am upholding the law,” Wagner, 43, told the court.
Wagner is charged with one count of mischief and seven counts of breach of probation following her December 12, 2016 arrest outside a Toronto abortion facility where she had tried to counsel women not to abort their unborn children.
Her trial began May 25 but was waylaid by the Crown’s application a publication ban brought on behalf of the abortion facility, and which LifeSiteNews contested.
On Friday, trial judge Judge Rick Libman of the Ontario Court of Justice ruled media could identify the lead witness, who had previously been featured in LifeSite’s reporting, but not the other two pro-abortion witnesses.
But Nordheimer, known for previous liberal rulings, accepted the Crown’s “emergency” application for a temporary ban on Monday.
As a result, the identity of the lead witness in Wagner’s trial cannot be disclosed, nor can details of the Crown’s application, pending a further hearing on that matter.
The order also bans publication of video surveillance clips of the day Wagner was arrested, which the the Crown has introduced as evidence.
LifeSiteNews was compelled by Nordheimer’s emergency order to delete a story covering the June 9 submissions to Libman on the publication ban which identified the lead witness and the location of the abortion center.
On Tuesday, the court heard Wagner, who is representing herself, testify that she attempted to peacefully intervene at the abortion facility to prevent the “killing of unborn helpless human beings” because the law fails to do so.
Wagner refuses to sign bail conditions requiring her to stay away from abortion centers, and so remained in jail almost six months until Libman released her June 9 on the sole condition she return to court on June 13 for the continuation of her trial, and Crown counsel Craig Power agreed.
On Tuesday, the Crown called the three witnesses who work at the abortion facility.
Libman heard testimony from a first witness that Wagner, carrying roses and literature, circumvented the abortion facility’s security buzz-in system by following a woman into the centre around 11:00 a.m.
The first witness testified that after a woman in the waiting room complained, she went to the back to tell the abortionist that Wagner was in the abortion center.
The court viewed video surveillance clips during the testimony of the lead witness, who was told that Wagner was in the front of the abortion facility.
The abortion facility “usually sees 10 to 20 plus patients a day,” the lead witness testified.
Crown counsel Power asked this witness to explain what was taking place on the video surveillance clips, which had no audio.
“At this point I was telling Ms. Wagner that she was trespassing in our clinic, asking her to leave,” the witness said. “I am encouraging her to depart and showing her the path to the door.”
“We just saw you grab her,” Power said. “Was she resisting?”
“Yes, she was,” replied the witness.
“As we approached the door, Ms Wagner dropped to the floor and grabbed the frame of the adjacent door,” the witness said.
“At that time she was saying, ‘Stop killing the babies, don’t kill the babies,’ and she was also saying, ‘You’re assaulting me’.”
“When you first saw her, were you angry?” Power asked.
“Yes, I was angry that she had come into our clinic,” the witness replied.
Wagner told LifeSiteNews in a telephone call from Vanier jail June 5 the abortionist pulled on her leg with such force when she was at the doorway of the abortion facility that Wagner had to twist her body “because of the pain” and so was removed from the clinic.
A third witness testified she helped remove Wagner from the premises by removing her hands from the doorway Wagner was hanging onto.
Wagner asked the lead witness why she felt compelled to remove her by force when the police were on the way.
“My concern was that you were causing distress to people in the clinic,” the witness replied, adding she was within her “legal rights” to remove Wagner.
“You were not welcome,” the witness said. “Your presence there interferes with the right of my patients to access a medical service.”
Wagner asked the witness whether offering women “assistance” and “another alternative” than abortion was “interfering” with the business of the abortion facility, but the witness said the question was a “mischaracterization.”
For her part, Wagner testified her intention was “to meet the women who, for whatever reasons, desperation, pressure” had turned to abortion, to “reach out to them in love and support, to let them know they were not alone.”
She tries to “reach their hearts,” she said.
“I try to tell them about their baby’s development, the heart beating at 21 days, I offer them support…I believe I also said don’t go here, this place is dedicated to killing unborn children, if you go here your child will be killed.”
On the day she was arrested, Wagner was able to talk to a woman looking for an abortion, and to help connect her with the Sisters of Life.
The woman is now married, and is carrying her baby to term, and intends to call her Mary, she told the court.
“We’ve been using the term ‘abortion’ for forty years,” she added. “We forget. We think it’s a political issue. It’s a human being.”
American pro-life activist Joan Andrews-Bell, New York attorney John Broderick, and New York pro-life activist John McGowan were at Wagner’s trial.
“She’s willing to suffer to an infinite degree to save the unborn children from execution,” Broderick told LifeSiteNews.
“I’m here because we want to support Mary in her great defence of our little brothers and sisters who are being brutally killed by abortion,” said Andrews-Bell, whose two-and-a-half years in a maximum security prison galvanized the rescue movement in the early nineties.
“I think her witness has a compelling call upon the heart of any person who recognizes God…as the primary authority over our life and our actions,” she told LifeSiteNews.
“Our love for the babies has to be personal. Our love for God has to be personal. Each of us has to has to ask ourselves, what is God asking me to do?”
Linda Gibbons, who has spent 11 years in jail for her pro-life witness, and long-time pro-life picketer Mary Burnie were among the dozen Canadian supporters at Wagner’s trial.
Wagner, who is from B.C., told the court she came to Toronto in 2010 because of Gibbons, who is “of like mind and heart.”
The trial will conclude with final arguments on June 29 at Old City Hall Court.