Protesting the Protesters

0

by Trish Dyer

Rosemary Connell, a resident of the Coboconk-area north of Peterborough, has been protesting legalized abortion in Canada for thirty years. Ms. Connell is so dedicated to her cause that she sees herself as a missionary: criss-crossing small town Ontario, forcing citizens, young and old, to 'bear witness.'

She's done it hundreds of times and last week, unsuspecting pedestrians and passers-by n Almonte and Carleton Place, including significant numbers of children, were her victims. On Tuesday, Ms. Connell and a group of her friends (roughly 20 in number) descended on Almonte and erected massive (four foot by four foot) blood red pictures which Ms. Connell claimed were photographs of 'real' human fetuses maimed by late term abortions on the sidewalk bordering Fields and Shopper's Drug Mart and attempted to hand out anti-abortion pamphlets.

Public reaction was not positive. Several young children, witnesses report, were visibly upset. Pedestrians, including a teenage girl, complained to the demonstrators. Others complained to police. Connell and company reassembled on Mill Street in front of several businesses, including the Robin's Nest. And, once more, tried handing out pamphlets: police were called again.

Shortly after lunch Connell and company reappeared on Bridge Street, a narrow thoroughfare, in Carleton Place. Passers-by in Carleton Place were so hostile this time it was Connell who called police to report she and her group felt threatened. However, Connell and company, who also hit Pembroke, Renfrew and Arnprior last week, were neither defeated nor discouraged. They reappeared in Carleton Place the next day on Highway 7 near McNeely Avenue during evening rush hour.

And again last Friday, this time outside the Carleton Place Youth, steps from Carleton Place Town Hall, at six p.m. where they were seen talking to a number of youth.Teenagers are the primary targets of most anti-abortion organizations.

In July 1997 Connell was charged with 'causing a disturbance by indecent exhibition' and 'exhibiting a disgusting object' in St. Thomas, Ontario. The province withdrew the charges without going to trial.

In October 1997 police responding to public complaints in Lindsay, seized Connell's signs. A judge ordered police to return them.

However, Connell has also complained to police: in Brooklin, Ontario, for instance, after an outraged woman, a local citizen, seized a sign and tore it to pieces.

Connell claims her 'missions' promote debate, allow her the means and opportunity to 'save' babies by persuading women to walk away from abortion appointments and comfort "post-abortive' people.." (source: Newsletter: LIFE CANADA NEWS )

Editor's Note: Both OPP and MIssissippi Mills mayor John Levi were contacted about this story. Mayor Levi acknowledged that the town of Mississippi Mills got many complaints and stated that he and the clerk went down town and talked to the protesters. They had the police attend but as the protestors were not breaking any laws nothing could be done. He stated that in Canada you are allowed to protest and disturbing as the pictures were they are permissible under current laws. He agreed with the Millstone that it should not be permissible at any place or time where young people are present, however the protestors are well versed in the law and any attempt to move them out would only give more publicity to their protest.

The OPP stated that although they received complaints,  the demonstration was peaceful and the protestors were not interfering with traffic, that is, they were not breaking any laws.