Canada: Judge rules the ban on pro-life ads ok, ’cause psychological harm to women who have had an abortion’
From the City of Grande Prairie in Alberta, Canada comes the surprising support of a ban on a pro-life banner for the side of a public bus by a judge who rules that they would “likely to cause psychological harm to women who have had an abortion,” an Alberta judge ruled.
According to Justice C.S. Anderson, the city “reasonably” balanced the free speech rights of the advertiser, the Calgary-based Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform, with the city’s own policy of providing a “safe and welcoming” space for bus passengers and passersby with its advertising.
The ad showed unborn babies at seven weeks’ and 16 weeks’ gestation followed by an empty circular frame filled in red to represent an aborted baby.
Beneath these images were the captions: “growing,” “growing” and “gone.” Beside the images, the ad read: “Abortion kills children” and provides CCBR’s web address.
Check out the image below.
Not every pro-life ad would be banned, noted the judge, to “soften the blow” that the city was being “reasonable” in its suppression of free speech.
Carol Crosson, legal counsel for the CCBR, told LifeSiteNews, “If government can tell its citizens what’s upsetting and what isn’t upsetting in their speech, then democracy is threatened and, indeed, progress is threatened.”
Joyce Arthur of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada applauds the decision. She told LifeSiteNews, “The right to free speech depends on respect for your audience and their right to avoid your message. The decision is significant, and shows that anti-choice groups like the CCBR are wrong to wield their right to free speech like a bludgeon against the public.”
Anderson noted that CCBR website included messaging such as “Now is the time to put an end to the slaughter. Now is the time to look evil in the face and say, enough. Now is the time to join together, and lend our voices to those who had theirs brutally taken from them.”
Commented the judge, “These are strong statements that vilify women who have chosen, for their own reasons, to have an abortion; they are not merely informative and educational.”
Anderson accepts the city’s remise that bus passengers and even drivers and passengers of other vehicles are a “captive audience” who cannot help but see and read the ads.
Anderson also finds in previous rulings by the Supreme Court of Canada the idea that the “Charter guarantee of freedom of expression is meant to protect not only those who wish to express themselves but also those who are the recipients of the expression.”