Hat tip to Ibis3 for pointing this story out to me.
Apparently, according to “pro-life” news aggregator LifeSiteNews.com, Justice S. Ford Clements dispensed approbation judiciously to an anti-choice protester by the name of Mary Wagner who’s been harassing abortion clinic patients in violation of her probation. Dammit Janet reports:
[Wagner] was charged with mischief and two counts of failing to comply with probation orders (indicating previous brushes with the law, yes?).
She’d been harassing patients and workers at the Bloor West Village Women’s Clinic. But she’s not content to stand on the sidewalk with gory pictures; she enters the clinic with flowers, brochures, and counselling in-person harassment.
LifeSiteNews quotes the judge thus:
“She can sit in jail, if that’s the only way to protect people,” he fulminated, calling Wagner “cowardly” for “abusing other human beings” and not having the courage to make her views known through other channels. “This is an extraordinary waste of resources. Get a grip!”
“You don’t get it, do you? What’s the rule of law? You’re required to abide by it … You’ve lost the right as a citizen to be anywhere near an abortion clinic or to speak to an employee,” he said.
“You’re wrong and your God’s wrong,” he continued. “You have complete contempt … There is a right to (abortion) in this country … You don’t have a right to cause (abortion-seeking women) extra pain and grief the way you do.”
“[Abortion] is legal,” he continued, “that’s all you have to understand … You start causing people emotional pain and harm, you think that’s okay?”
He then asked Wagner whether she would stay away from abortion sites for three years as required by the proposed terms of probation.
“I will not,” Wagner replied firmly.
“Then you’re going to jail,” said Clements.
There are many problems I can’t resolve personally with this article — though it’s getting a ton of traction amongst the religious zealots and conservative crowd, all roads lead back to this one story. Either this is an original piece of reporting, making it suspect in its bias in where all those elipses were placed in the Judge’s quotes, or it was invented from whole cloth. I don’t know how, without transcripts of this court case, any of this could be shown to be true.
One issue I have with the whole case is the fact that Wagner was apparently arrested after being asked to leave and refusing, for violating trespass laws. However, her presence in the abortion clinic violated a protest bubble law in Ontario which protects staff and patients at up to ten feet, and offices at up to twenty-five. Why she wasn’t arrested under those laws is beyond me, unless the story was simply invented.
But regardless, even if everything in LifeSiteNews is exactly correct, and all of the quotes exactly right and in correct context, I still think the judge did the right thing. If a condition of your probation for violating protest buffer zone laws is that you not break any laws, and if you decide unilaterally that these laws are “guideposts”, then you go to jail.
When protesting “the man”, you have to work within the system to change the laws. You cannot simply break them and expect there to be no consequences. Beyond that, you cannot simply break those laws just to provoke a response and make yourself a martyr for your cause. Like the judge said — women exercising bodily autonomy by choosing to abort is perfectly legal in Canada.
Women are already in many cases emotionally traumatized by the experience, especially in cases where they have to abort for medical reasons despite actually wanting the child. There’s absolutely nothing moral about pouring salt in wounds, and there’s nothing moral about terrorizing people into doing what you personally believe under any circumstances.
Especially not because you’re deluded enough to think that some very old book told you to oppose this otherwise legal practice, despite every reading available of said book proving you demonstrably wrong. So, when you get right down to it, if Clements said “you’re wrong and your God is wrong” for believing that harassing abortion patients is justified and moral, he’d be doubly right. Whatever deity Wagner worships, it apparently preaches morality that is not as nuanced and just and correct as what we practice in modern society; and beyond that, no God’s holy book says anything about abortion, especially not any Christian texts. Whatever God she worships, it isn’t the God of the Bible.
Hell. Even Islam says fetuses are only given souls at four months of gestation, and abortions are permissible in many cases even after that. When Islam is more progressive than your religion on some point regarding women’s rights, considering every other way they systematically subjugate women to patriarchy otherwise, surely that should give you some pause.