Opposing sides of abortion issue meet downtown
By Max Leighton on May 11, 2012 at 3:44 pm
Demonstrators on both sides of the abortion debate assembled in downtown Whitehorse on Thursday afternoon.
About 30 people met for an anti-abortion rally, beginning at 1 p.m. at the Old Log Church on Elliott Street.
The group gathered on the front lawn holding signs reading: “Adoption, the loving option,” and “Choose life, your momma did.”
They met on the church grounds, marching around the block, along Main Street and back down Fourth Avenue to the church.
“We are doing this to let people know we are here for them,” said Edna Lorenzen, a demonstration organizer.
“If you are in crisis or don’t know where to turn, we have people who will speak with you. We’re here with open arms.”
Like Lorenzen, most of the participants were involved with the Catholic church, though there was a “varied cross-section,” of participants at the rally, she said.
“Don’t get pregnant,” said Lorenzen. “There are so many options to not get pregnant. There are contraceptives, of course. I don’t believe in those either, but it’s the lesser of two evils.”
Other organizers included Marie Clarke, a woman who says she regrets an abortion she had at the age of 18, and Bruce Fast, a local anti-abortion activist.
Asked when life begins, the three shouted, “Conception!” in unison.
The pro-choice demonstration met on the front steps of the Elijah Smith Building.
“(Conception is) not even the point,” said Julianna Scramstad, an organizer from the Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre.
“Once we decide a medial definition, there will still be abortions; that’s why we argue that making abortion illegal only leads to illegal abortion.
“It’s about having the choice to determine what a woman wants for her body.”
Many of the nearly 50 pro-choice attendees came from local organizations such as Kaushee’s Place, the Yukon Aboriginal Women’s Council, the Whitehorse Aboriginal Women’s Circle and the Yukon Status of Women’s Council, said Scramstad.
“We’re here to bare witness to the folks organizing up the street against women’s right to choose,” she said. “If you are against abortion, and you are a woman, you can choose not to have an abortion.”
The group’s own signs read: “Reproductive choice is a human right”, “If you make abortion illegal you get illegal abortions” and an image of a coat hanger with the words “Never again.”
At about 1:15 p.m., the anti-abortion march rounded the corner to Main Street, walking slowly past the line of pro-choice demonstrators, several pushing strollers with signs that read, “I’m pro-life.”
Several anti-abortionists and the pro-choicers locked eyes for a moment in silence except for the tapping of knitting needles, in recognition of the desperate lengths once taken to terminate pregnancy.
In a few minutes, the anti-abortion demonstrators had rounded the corner to the church. The pro-choice group broke into cheers before dispersing and leaving the steps.
In January 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the country’s abortion law as unconstitutional.
Despite a Conservative backbencher’s recent attempt to bring the issue back to the public agenda, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has repeatedly said his government will not reopen the contentious debate.