The Viewers' Voices

This was a story from the counter-protesting team that is incredibly significant. It shows that even those who are pro-life disagree with using graphic "victim photography" as a tactic for protesting. Please note this was submitted before we went into lockdown again and I missed posting it. Unlike London Against Abortion, VDLC does not protest during lockdowns and follows provincial guidelines.

Now here's the story:

"I was one of the people who went out today to collect petitions. You may have even driven past me, Nat, and Katie this afternoon at Wharncliffe and Oxford.

Today while I was out , we had a lady approach us, who had a friend in the car on crutches who wished to sign our petition. Masked up and ready to go, I happily followed her to her car, where I found her friend sitting in the passenger seat. Her friend starts apologizing that I've had to come over to the car, and I tell her it's no problem.

Both of these women are very prolife. They are very upfront with this fact with me right off the bat. But honestly I'm okay with that, because up until not long ago, I was pro life as well. But I've come to realize through my own experiences, research and education that, that wasn't the correct term for what I believe.

One of these women is actually apart of a group who go and protest at Vic hospital. They do this without the use of graphic signs. She explained to me that they turn towards the hospital with their rosary beads and they just pray. I told her I respected her views on prolife, and I respect how she chooses to protest.

The other woman has lost 2 children in her life time to a miscarriage.  She showed me her memorial tattoo on her arm for them. This was a very painful topic for her. She is also someone who has been hurt and traumatized by these images and she took a few seconds to actually show me the image because it affected her enough for her to take a picture of it.

Both these ladies signed both the provincial and federal petitions, the one lady even took a flyer from me because she is going to get her family and friends to sign as well.

They both told me, they don't agree with the use of their signs. She said their pamphlets need to be in a sealed envelope, and that no one should ever be forced to see what they are showing.  The one lady said she only knows what her babies looked like because of the sign she saw! She wished no one ever had to see that, let alone deal with it. She wanted to sign our petitions because she, like us, wants to protect people from the same pain she's endured. It wasn't a prolife or prochoice issue for her - it was a human one.

I left this encounter feeling pretty humbled honestly. It was nice to be respected and spoken to with kindness. They both profusely thanked me for the work we're out here doing. I literally wanted to cry and hug her at the end.

Nothing has been changed, these are the submitters own words:

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  • I was driving down Highbury and had to turn onto Oxford Street when I first saw the signs. I knew the signs would be there but as a nurse I’m used to seeing some pretty grizzly scenes and didn’t think much of it. The signs were horrific and shocking beyond what I imagined. I started to get an anxiety attack and shake. I panicked and floored the gas while making the turn almost getting hit by on coming traffic. Due to the destress the signs caused me I almost caused an accident with my 7 week old daughter in the car... I still can’t get the images out of my head.

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  • Today while petitioning, London Against Abortion cropped up a few streets down so we went to get some signatures. While blocking a graphic sign, I noticed a family with two young children crossing the street towards myself and two of the graphic signs. The parents were walking with their hands covering their children's eyes so they couldn't see the images, and I made sure to follow the sign as they passed so they couldn't see. The mother thanked me profusely for what we are doing. 

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  • My 7 year old son has a pen pal and LOVES checking the mail. It's one of the few tasks around the house he gets excited about. Well one day he went out to check the mail and I heard a loud OH MY GOD THIS BURGER FLYER HAS RIPPED UP DEAD BABIES ALL OVER IT! He was horrified. I snatch it out of his hands as his brother comes running out to see what all the commotion was. So I crumple it up and throw it away, because my oldest would be bothered by these images more than his younger brother. Since then, he hasn't been very interested in bringing in the mail anymore.

    I am furious that I now have to monitor the mail at my own damn house to protect my children from seeing these images. They wouldn't be allowed to go to a movie theatre with images this graphic, why are they allowed to be sent to our home unsolicited?

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  • I have been trying to figure out how to describe what seeing these images does to me without being too blunt and graphic, but I don’t think it’s possible since that is also what the images are. I have had multiple miscarriages and seeing these pictures takes me right back to those horrible experiences. One of my fetuses slowly died and my body did not expel it after it had been dead a few days. I didn’t want a D&C for fear of possibly damaging my uterine lining so I used a few rounds of misoprostol to speed up the process. By the time it did start to pass, it had started to deteriorate and was not completely intact or quick. Seeing these images, which look so similar to what I lost and so desperately wanted, throw me back to those horrible few days that I had hoped to never have to re-live. It takes away so much of the progress I have made finding the strength to move on. To me, the issue of those graphic images has nothing to do with ‘pro-life’ or ‘pro-choice’, but a cruel attack on anyone who has been affected by any kind of fetal loss no matter what the cause. Fresh tears are now streaming down my face, caused by callous people who claim to care about all lives but are causing so much pain to so many.

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  • I am one of the silent numbers. You know the "that rarely ever happens", "basically non-existent", "straw-men" numbers. I was young and foolish. I got involved with a man who was young and foolish like me. The problem is that his foolishness turned into violence, our relationship devolved, and we parted ways. The last time I saw him was the day he called me up on the pretext of picking up some of his belongings but ended in him sexually assaulting me. I tried to move on and never told a soul because I was ashamed. Imagine how much worse the situation became when I discovered I was pregnant. The thing that anti-abortionists say rarely ever happens had happened to me. I was forced to make the decision of what to do. I made my choice: I chose my emotional well-being, my financial security, my goals and aspirations. I chose ME and I never once regretted that choice but I was intensely aware of how "shameful" a portion of society though my choice was. Seeing these pictures however is extremely traumatizing and seeing people judge other women and girls in the same situation I was in makes me so very angry, so very sad, and so incredibly tired. If I never see a picture like this again it will be too soon and my heart goes out to anyone who is being victimized by these people who just wish to control women's bodies. Please know that there are many of us "silent numbers" who support your efforts and do what we can to help. 

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  • I had heard about the posters through various community groups and kept thinking, just leave them alone, it can't be that bad. And I kept brushing it off as people overreacting. Then one day I was driving on Fanshawe near Richmond with my other half and I saw the posters for myself. I have never told my other half that I had two abortions and a miscarriage in my late teens/early 20s. I was shocked into pure silence halfway through a conversation. I gripped the steering wheel so hard I thought I had left my fingerprints in the steering wheel. I began to cry so much that I had to pull over and let my other half drive. The choices I made were best for me at the time (20+ years ago) but it still hurts and seeing such graphic images is devastating to me. I spent the next week in a depressive state, finding it hard to get out of bed.

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  • I believe strongly that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I never took offense or complained about the pro-life protestors who would stand outside of the hospital with their signs. They have a right to express their opinions as much as I do. But showing such graphic pictures is just unacceptable. I feel horrible for the mothers who have to answer questions from their young children about what they are seeing. We protect people from graphic images in the news by warning people about graphic content. We warn people about graphic content in movies. People can choose not to watch when they hear the warning but there is no way to warn people about these graphic images. They are public for all to see.

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  • Months ago, when they had one of those giant boards up at Wharncliffe and Commissioners my 6 year old asked, "What's that?" and I think he settled on it being ketchup but that it looked like blood and he didn't think they should have signs like that. This was months ago. We haven't had to deal with the signs in a long time and it hasn't come up. Two days ago, were eating and he stops, saying he doesn't want to eat anymore. He said the ketchup is reminding him of those signs and that it he gets nightmares from it. 

    I can't with these people and their self-righteousness of "saving unborn children" when they are actively traumatizing living ones.

 

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