Pro-life protester Linda Gibbons arrested outside Morgentaler abortion site
TORONTO, June 12, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Linda Gibbons, who has spent years in jail for peacefully protesting Toronto abortion clinic "bubble zone" laws, was arrested outside the “Morgentaler Clinic” abortion site in Toronto around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. The arrest took place some two and a half hours after she appeared there to begin pacing back and forth on a sidewalk with her usual placard reading, “Why mom? When I have so much love to give.”
Her lawyer, Daniel Santoro, said she was to appear in court this morning for a bail hearing and added he will be representing her in subsequent court appearances. It has been Gibbons’s practice to decline bail because conditions are added that require her to stay away from abortion sites pending trial.
There was no immediate word on what charges will be laid; however, it has been prosecutors’ custom in such circumstances to charge her with “disobeying a court order” and, at times, with breaching probation orders. The Morgentaler site on Hillsdale Avenue East is protected by a court injunction banning a wide range of pro-life activities within certain distances of the building.
Gibbons has been free since being released from jail this past March 14, when she was sentenced to time served plus one day for a similar demonstration outside the Morgentaler site last October 30. Santoro had said he was planning an appeal of that verdict on the grounds that the injunction protecting the Morgentaler site did not apply to Gibbons (as she was not named in the injunction and did not consent to it) and that her peaceful conduct did not constitute a breach of the injunction's measures, which include prohibitions on creating a nuisance, injuring the plaintiffs or their "business," watching, besetting, secondary picketing and intimidation.
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On the latest occasion, several pro-life supporters, including Gibbons’s friend Leeda Crawford, looked on as two security guards were on hand “very quickly” after Gibbons began her demonstration. “The only time she spoke was when she attempted to hand a brochure regarding the development of the unborn child to a young woman who was entering the clinic,” said Crawford. “Linda would pause for a few seconds, likely to pray, and continue her quiet slow pace back and forth in front of the entrance …
“During the time Linda was walking back and forth a few cars stopped to talk to her. She handed a pamphlet to a cab driver. A few people asked, ‘Why are they arresting her? What's going on?’ ‘Why?’ was one response. ‘You've got to be kidding!’ was another. A few stopped to ask the cops, ‘Why are you arresting her?’ One asked me, ‘What about free speech?’ and went on to say, ‘Regardless of whether you’re pro-life or not, you should be able to protest.’”
A sheriff’s vehicle arrived just after 10 a.m. “Two women came out of the building and began to complain to the cops from the van,” said Crawford. “Linda continued to walk back and forth in front of the building, again speaking only when a woman walked past her towards the entrance way to 727 Hillsdale.”
About 45 minutes later, four police officers were on hand when the sheriff finished reading the text of the injunction to Gibbons. They seized her sign, handcuffed her and placed her into the back of a cruiser for transport to the 53 Division police station. There, she was to be processed and taken to the Vanier Centre for Women prison site in Milton, where she was to join fellow pro-life demonstrator Mary Wagner, who is awaiting trial on mischief-related charges for her demonstration at the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site on Lawrence Avenue West last August 15.
Gibbons was awarded the Diamond Jubilee Medal last October — nominated by Tory MP Maurice Vellacott — for her “faithful undying battle for justice for pre-born children, at great personal sacrifice”.
Vellacott called Gibbons’ peaceful civil disobedience an “appropriate method when trying to protect defenseless, voiceless human beings in the womb from butchery and death.”
Responding to criticism for having nominated a jailed pro-life activist, he said at the time: “It’s a pretty upside down world when we honor abortionists like Henry Morgentaler for killing over 5000 babies and imprison precious women, like Mary Wagner and Linda Gibbons, who try to save babies from such savagery. They are the real heroes of humanity!”
For Gibbons, making a stand for life that lands her in jail again and again is her way of doing something for the baby’s slated for abortion. “I’ve been in prison for 10 years and I’m willing to spend another 10 years behind bars. I have a moral responsibility not to obey an unjust law. I am not asking to be arrested for the exercising of my free speech,” she told a reporter last year.
“The real question is, What is the value of life? And what am I willing to do to protect the unborn?”
Co-authored with Peter Baklinski.