A CANADIAN PROFILE IN COURAGE AND DETERMINATION
As does the U.S., Canada also has its proud share of heroic defenders of the unborn. The fearless efforts of a few of them have already been briefly outlined in a previous article, entitled "Canada, Land of the Free . . . and Persecuted." Highlighted in that particular item was a young British Columbian pro-lifer, Mary Wagner, who had been imprisoned over Christmas last year, from November until February, for handing out roses and offering help to women entering a government subsidized Vancouver abortuary. In what has become an expected practice, her plight - like that of many others jailed for peacefully witnessing in front of abortion mills - was shamefully ignored by the press.
Undeterred, the 27-year-old woman returned in late June to the Everywoman`s baby-killing clinic in Vancouver to resume praying in front of its doors and to hold and hand out roses to clients. She was once more promptly arrested by the Vancouver police and thrown into a maximum security prison along with a companion.
On July 19 Mary went to court. She was given a jail sentence of 3 months and a day in addition to the 24 days she had already served. She was then handcuffed and roughly transported back to maximum security at the nearby Burnaby Correctional Centre for Women.
Contrary to gentle grandmother Linda Gibbons, who has spent most of the last seven years in prison for quietly counselling women outside abortion mills in Toronto, Mary doesn`t remain mute in front of judges as a sign of empathy for the voiceless unborn. She has chosen instead to preach a gospel of life that would make the Holy Father himself enormously proud of her eloquent and fearless pro-life evangelization.
The following is Mary`s admirable statement of defense.
My friend and co-accused, myself and many others are deeply troubled. We are troubled by the hard truth, that in our country and throughout our world, child after child is being killed before she has left her mother's womb. What is most shameful is that we, who are grown, continue to allow our tiniest sisters and brothers to be destroyed. We do little to protect the vulnerable child who is at risk of being aborted. We allow her mother to make the grave mistake of aborting, instead of welcoming her child. We are guilty of both the avoidable deaths of countless children, and of the unimaginable damage to their mothers. Were we on trial today for the neglect of pre natal children causing death, and harm to women, we would surely be convicted.
Instead, we are on trial for attempting to protect some of our young sisters and brothers, who were scheduled to be killed on June 25, 2001. We have no legal defence for peacefully intervening where children are routinely killed. We have no legal defence, because those of us who had the power to do so, have passed laws which say that you, Your Honour, were not a person from the moment you were conceived, until the moment you totally emerged from your mother's body. In other words, our law says that personhood begins when a "non-person" comes forth from the womb of the "non-person's" mother. The first nine months of your life, as you grew and were nourished in the warmth and security of your mother's womb were in law, irrelevant. You existed, but not legally were you acknowledged.
Your Honour, most of the laws of this country are based on reason, though this is not always, nor has it always been the case. As recently as last century, women and First Nations people were not considered people in Canadian law. With the clarity of hindsight, we can see how unreasonable and unjust this was. Must we live as blindly as those of past generations, defying reason and justice to preserve the legal status quo? How can we, when the legal status quo permits the killing of over 100 000 Canadian each year?
Henry David Thoreau, in his essay, "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience", remarks "Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? . . . It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right." Thoreau was an American citizen who was writing in opposition to slavery, which at that time, 1849, had the endorsement of his government.
Thoreau made an important observation. "It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right", simply because the law can be wrong, the law can be unjust.
Your Honour, many have proposed that one may voice opposition to abortion by means other than by breaking the law. We agree with this point. However, opposing abortion was not our sole intention. We must do more than that.
We believe that we are to live in such a way that we serve our Creator, and we do so by serving His creatures, our fellow brothers and sisters. We believe that you, Your Honour, were created at the moment of conception, and that you are a unique being of infinite worth. We believe the tiniest of human beings, who has been made in the image of our Creator, is more precious than any thing, and must be respected.
This belief must be lived. In our hearts, it has become clear that we will go, by God's grace, to the places where our brothers and sisters are at risk of being killed, intervening for them by whatever peaceful means we can.
By such direct intervention, some might think that we are being disrespectful, or behaving unjustly towards mothers, fathers, abortionists or associates who are present. However, someone once made the astute remark that, "An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere." When there is injustice towards a tiny child not yet born, there is injustice towards her mother, father and, ultimately towards each one of us.
Treating a tiny child justly does not deny justice for others. Justice, by its nature, is incapable of breeding injustice.
Thank you Your Honour.
The presiding judge in handing down his harsh sentence, claiming Mary Wagner broke the law and was only getting what she deserved, missed the point entirely. Her actions should have been judged in the same light as those of the valiant Dutch families who hid Jews during the Holocaust. They saved thousands of families from certain death. Was that right? Were the orders which allowed the brutal killing of 6 million people just or unjust? If we decide that the laws which permitted this were unjust, then we must conclude that the laws which have permitted the brutal extermination of some 2 million Canadian babies before birth are also unjust.
Brother Knights, please intercede with our Lady of Guadalupe to keep both Mary Wagner and Linda Gibbons safe and healthy inside their squalid maximum security prisons.
New Brunswick, Canada
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