The issue over Pro-Life versus Pro-Choice is heating up in Campbell River.
A presentation by a Pro-Life speaker in Campbell River on Sunday, Nov. 17 at the Campbell River Sportsplex has prompted a Pro-Choice counter rally outside the venue.
Pro-Life advocate Denise Mountenay will be speaking at the Sportsplex at 7 p.m. Nov. 17. Her presentation will focus on “her gripping story of rape, teen pregnancy and abortion and teaches about the complications of legal abortion to women,” according to a pamphlet on the event.
But Montenay’s presence isn’t sitting well with Ashley Shea and Matthew Wilkinson, nor has the silence from the Pro-Choice side, so Shea decided to organize a rally outside the Sportsplex beginning at 6:30 p.m.
“We have a very large, Pro-Life demographic, which is fine, but I question why we don’t have a Pro-Choice demographic and how that looks for people facing abortion or have had an abortion. Where’s their support?” She said. “So, I would say this rally is to support those who are facing an abortion or have had an abortion and let them know that it’s okay and that they have people behind them.”
There’s a lot of moral repression from the Pro-Life community, Shea said, and there’s a lot of pain and stigma.
“And I think we need to provide support for women, regardless of what they choose,” Shea said.
Each Wednesday, a group of people hold a rally outside the Campbell River Hospital to protest the abortions being conducted inside the hospital. One of these weekly Pro-Life rally organizers, Christian McCay, said in a letter to the Campbell River Mirror that “We are there to inform people in Campbell River that there are no laws in Canada regarding abortion. We are not there to shame woman who have chosen the path of abortion, rather, we are there to offer hope, encouragement and help for all woman. We have resources and want to let woman know about them no matter what circumstance they are in.”
The rallies have become a lightning rod for this debate and led to at least one physical confrontation between a woman and rally participants on Oct. 2.
Shea said those rallies, in conjunction with Mountenay’s presentation, have prompted the need for the other side to speak up as well.
“This kind of tipped the hat off as well. Let’s raise the other side as well. We don’t need scare tactics in abortion. We can provide facts and we can provide support,” She said.
Wilkinson, who is co-organizing Sunday’s counter-rally with Shea, said the Wednesday Pro-Life rallies outside the hospital prompted him to get involved as well. He said this group has also been leaving pamphlets all over town about their speaker.
“Fifteen-year-old girls who were raped and then made pregnant and have made the informed choice (which is the law in Canada, you can’t just walk up and say “Hi, 1 abortion please” like it’s nothing) do not need the extra emotional trauma of people in their face, judging them, shaming them, for something that is likely the most responsible choice,” Wilkinson said in a Facebook message to the Mirror.
Meanwhile, Shea said her counter-rally is also an opportunity to exercise women’s rights, she said.
“We have people who fought for abortion for many, many years to make it safe and to make it legal,” Shea said. “And we need to express that as well.”
Shea added that this rally isn’t intended to change anybody’s minds, it’s just to make the other side known; that people do have support and do have allies on their side, no matter what choice they make. She said she knows people who have had abortions and have regrets.
But because of the shame and stigma attached to it, they don’t feel comfortable reaching out to anybody for help.
“And that would be a really isolating place to be in,” Shea said.
McCay is organizing Mountenay’s presentation and said “she is a profound voice in this one-sided debate with personal experience. That voice is being limited when she does not get to speak.”
“If we consider the opposition building in Campbell River to an individual sharing their personal gripping story by planning an opposition rally and further, on a national level, the censorship of a movie with a pro life message being played we must consider the scary implication of the total shut down of free speech that is happening in our country and communities,” McCay said.
A Facebook group has been created to promote the rally and it had 60 people indicating intent to participate after one day.
Shea said she hopes the rally doesn’t get confrontational. The intent is to let women know they have support regardless of what decision they make.
Wilkinson said they intend to discourage any idea of creating a disturbance. They will be telling people to stay outside of the Sportsplex building and not go into the presentation.
“We’re going to make it very, very clearly obvious that we are not going to interrupt them,” he said.