Quebec pro-life group fights for right to be ‘at the foot of cross’ – outside abortion clinics
MONTREAL, June 12, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Two Montreal abortion clinics facing the expiry of an injunction keeping pro-life street counselors away have made a last ditch effort to disqualify crucial evidence to be presented in court Tuesday.
“They want to throw out four of our seven affidavits,” said Robert Reynolds, the lawyer for Campagne Quebec-Vie, the Quebec branch of Campaign Life Coalition. Three of the targeted affidavits are statements from women who had abortions at the Morgentaler Clinic and later suffered serious medical consequences, but who insist they were never warned about any health risks.
The fourth is the evidence of Dr. Philip Ney, a Victoria-area psychotherapist who has extensively researched the psychological and emotional harm abortion does to some women. “They want to argue it is not pertinent,” said Reynolds. “And it isn’t pertinent to their argument but it is to ours.”
The Tuesday hearing is over the abortion facilities’ application for a temporary injunction, to keep pro-life volunteers across a busy downtown street from the building holding the two clinics until a more formal permanent injunction can be applied for and argued.
This means, says Reynolds, the abortion facilities must prove “irreparable harm” will be done immediately to their operation by the presence of pro-life volunteers. They have affidavits (such hearings do not hear “live” witnesses) from staff and clients claiming stress and other health impacts and from abortion doctors supporting them.
As well they argue the closeness of the pro-life counselors constitutes an “invasion of privacy” and a violation of “rights and freedoms” of the women seeking abortion.
But Campagne Quebec-Vie will argue that women having abortions right now have the right to the evidence of the risks involved, found in the pamphlets pro-life volunteers present.
More is at stake than the legal terms suggest. Some temporary injunctions have kept pro-life volunteers far from clinics and clients for 30 years. So what could come from Tuesday’s hearing is a permanent injunction in all but name. But if the pro-life group wins and the existing injunction is removed, the abortion facilities will not wait 30 years to press for a permanent court order.
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Thirty years is how long a temporary injunction kept Campagne Quebec-Vie across the street from the Morgentaler Clinic’s old location. But last year the clinic moved downtown, where it was not protected by the location-specific injunction. CQV-trained sidewalk counselors moved to the building entrance where they began offering flyers.
In December CQV agreed to let a time-limited “provisional” injunction be put in place to give both sides time to prepare their arguments. At the end of April Reynolds sent the abortion facilities’ lawyers his affidavits. This week, with a week to go before the hearing, they informed him they were challenging most of them. Reynolds will respond Tuesday by trying to get a written argument for his affidavits into the record.
Georges Buscemi, the president of CQV, explained in a news release why it is so important to be at the entrance. “We believe it is essential to be present ‘at the foot of the cross,’ i.e in the very place where the innocence of children to be born and the credulity of the mother (who believed in lies of abortionists… saying she had a ‘cluster of cells’) are put to death by those ‘who know not what they do.’”
Also, he said, the street counselors need to be near the clinic and not across the street “because it is precisely by being where abortion is that we can best prevent it.”
Thirty years ago the first pro-life volunteers went to court without lawyers and put up a feeble—and losing—defence against the injunction, said Reynolds. By moving downtown, the Morgentaler Clinic has left itself “temporarily” vulnerable, and in the meantime organizations have come into existence such as the Christian Legal Fellowship with a mandate to support pro-life causes, to which Reynolds belongs.