Anti-abortion protest planned in Vancouver comes under fire
An anti-abortion group is preparing to stage a weeks-long demonstration outside a major maternity hospital in Vancouver.
Organizers of the 40 Days For Life campaign hope to hold an around-the-clock prayer vigil outside B.C. Women’s Hospital & Health Centre from September 26 to November 4.
However, abortion-rights activists have been quick to speak out against the planned demonstration at the hospital.
Vancouver activist Jamie James said he is planning his own counter-protest against 40 Days For Life on the morning of September 26.
“They don’t even have an argument. They’re just saying that life is sacred and murdering babies is what abortion is and if you’re pro-choice then you’re for murdering babies,” James told the Straight by phone.
“They literally celebrate every time an abortion clinic is closed. It’s pretty disgusting.”
James added: “They could actually cause trouble for women. They could be really a traumatizing presence for women, even women who aren’t there to go to the hospital for an abortion.”
The 40 Days For Life campaign is a religious-based movement that started in the United States. Hundreds of local campaigns targeting abortion clinics are also being organized this fall by volunteers across North America and in other countries.
The Vancouver hospital, located at Oak Street and West 33rd Avenue, has been targeted by two similar 40 Days For Life protests over the past year.
Joyce Arthur, executive director of the Vancouver-based Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, also spoke out against the upcoming demonstration.
“It’s offensive in a way for them to be continually protesting basically at the gates of abortion clinics or hospitals because this is a matter of human rights, for women to be able to access this necessary health service,” Arthur told the Straight by phone.
“They really don’t have the right to be there and they’re not doing any good. It’s futile. It’s an annoyance. It doesn’t help anybody.”
Vigil organizer Catherine Ching said the demonstration is targeting the hospital because it is “one of the biggest providers for abortions in B.C.”
Ching said she is opposed to abortion, which is legal in Canada, because it involves “the innocent killing of human beings”.
“The message we have is, I guess, that there’s people out there just praying for an end to abortion,” she told the Straight by phone.
Ching, a Surrey resident, said the Vancouver campaign is not about sparking debate about abortion rights.
“That’s not our goal for 40 Days For Life…. 40 Days For Life is strictly recognizing that people of faith are going to gather together to pray for an end to abortion,” she said.
“What that would consist of and the exact legalities and the details behind how that would actually happen? I would have to say I don’t know.”
“I think it’s going to be an extremely long process. I don’t think it’s something that’s going to be done overnight.”
B.C. Women’s Hospital & Health Centre spokesperson Papinder Rehncy said the facility will “remain open and operate as usual” during the demonstration.
“We take no position on this protest or any other protest; our job is to ensure the safety and security and care of patients,” reads an emailed statement from Rehncy.
“The patient experience is extremely important to us, and we will work to ensure the safety, security and confidentiality of patients is protected.”
Among its other services, the hospital provides abortions and counselling to women with unintended pregnancies.