Judge receives thousands of messages supporting Canadian pro-life activist
OTTAWA, September 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Pro-life advocates around the world responded with an outpouring of support for Canadian Mary Wagner, who faced an 18-month jail sentence yesterday for her peaceful attempts to save women and unborn children from the violence of abortion.
Wagner asked people to send letters defending the unborn child’s right to life to Ontario Court of Justice Rick Libman.
“I was really surprised at the volume. I didn’t know what to expect, but I certainly didn’t expect the thousands and thousands that had come,” Wagner, 43, told LifeSiteNews.
Libman convicted Wagner on August 15 on charges of mischief and breach of probation arising from her December 12, 2016, arrest at Bloor West Village Women’s Clinic.
The judge delayed Wagner’s sentencing until September 12, telling her she could submit character references.
After Wagner’s appeal, Libman received some 850 letters, 34,000 emails and 67,000 petition signatures in support of Wagner, according to Campaign Life Coalition, where the letters were delivered.
The judge cited letters attesting to Wagner’s character as a mitigating factor in her sentence when he ruled Tuesday “society would not be served” by Wagner spending more time in jail than the six months she’d already served awaiting trial.
The letters to Libman came from as far as Japan, UK, and Poland and included poignant endorsements of Wagner from women grieving their abortions.
“I hated myself for what I had done,” wrote a 45-year-old woman from UK, who had three abortions before giving birth to a daughter.
“I know one thing, if I had met a person like Mary Wagner when it was about to happen, my life would have been different,” she wrote.
“I would like to ask you to consider the fact that women who make that decision are not always convinced if this is the right way to go. Let them meet Mary Wagner on their path so that they could rethink their decision … ”
A woman wrote the judge from Canada with a harrowing story of her abortion at 18 years of age: how a psychologist convinced her to go through with it even though she was unsure, how she suffered such intense abdominal cramps and excessive bleeding afterward she had to return to the hospital, and how she felt “instant regret and depression” after the abortion.
“This has been the most traumatic event of my life,” she wrote.
“I wish I had a Mary Wagner with me in that waiting room. I wish someone would have told me that keeping my baby was even an option. I wish someone would have reassured me and provided the support I really needed.”
Other missives ranged from heartfelt one-liners to erudite philosophical or legal arguments.
“Please don’t condemn Mary in prison. She’s not doing anyone any harm. Please,” was a handwritten note from Poland.
“Please don’t convict Mary only because she loves those who are not allowed to come into this beautiful world,” was another from the same country.
“Mary has dedicated her entire life to saving unborn babies. She has gone to jail over and over again to try and help them. She has spent countless hours in prayer pleading for their lives, she has done everything possible, even more so, to convince people to stop killing babies,” wrote New York attorney John Broderick.
“One would think such an outstanding person should not have even been arrested at all, never mind incarcerated, but that is what has happened,” he noted.
“Despite her consistent and outstanding goodness she has been made to suffer substantially.”
An assistant professor at Japan’s Reitaku University described Wagner’s sentencing as “a Socratic moment for Western law,” in his letter to Libman.
“On trial in this instance is not Mary, but the law itself,” wrote Jason Morgan.
“As an American specializing in comparative research in legal philosophy, I have discovered that injustice cannot be walled off within a given jurisprudential system. Contempt for human beings in even one statute spreads like a cancer throughout the whole of the law.”
He added: “I do not envy you the burden placed upon your shoulders.”
Others letters described Wagner as “a radiant girl, always joyful, caring and unpretentious,” and another as “empathetic, courageous, peaceful, humble, intelligent.”
Nor was support confined to letters.
The Polish Association of Defence of Human Life remembered Wagner’s intentions during Sunday Mass in Krakow, Poland, on September 10, praying that “the trial on September 12, against the Canadian defender of life, Mary Wagner ends in releasing her. Let us also pray that the Canadian legal system will recognize unborn children as human beings.”
And the day Wagner was sentenced in Toronto, 65 people showed up at the provincial court building in Ottawa at a last-minute rally organized by Polish Canadians for Life.
“We are totally supporting Mary 100 percent,” spokesperson Liliana Gwizdkowska told LifeSiteNews.
“She’s regarded as a heroine, someone who goes into those abortion centers and get jailed, and cumulatively spends five years of her life, and she just does it over and over.”
The “law in Canada protects the abortion industry basically killing babies, and that’s exactly what she’s talking about,” added Gwizdkowska. “The unjust law is no law at all.”
Notably, much of support for Wagner came from Poland or Polish Canadians.
Gwizdkowska attributes the connection to a shared faith that all parties take seriously.
“Most of the Polish community are church-goers, she’s Catholic, we’re Catholic, and these are the teachings of Christ,” she said.
Indeed, Wagner echoes this.
“I don’t think I could continue this path and I don’t know if I would have even begun it, without the gift of faith and the grace that God, many graces, grace upon grace, that He has given me,” she told LifeSiteNews.
“Also the conviction through the Scripture, as well, that Jesus said, ‘Whatever you do to one of the least of my brothers, this you do to me,’ and the importance of living that out concretely,” she added.
“Not just in an abstract way, but concretely, because these are real children and mothers who are every day in danger.”
Libman sentenced Wagner to 30 months' probation, including a condition she stay 250 meters away from the Bloor West Village Women’s Clinic, and 50 hours of community service.