|Pro-choice supporter Jaicee Payette talks to pro-life protester Kathy Hein on the sidewalk in front of the KLO Road campus of Okanagan College Thursday afternoon. Hein and other members of the Kelowna Right to Life Society displayed graphic signs showing the results of abortions.|
Numbering fewer than 10 at any given time, members of the Kelowna Right to Life Society held signs showing photos of abortions as they stood on the sidewalk in front of the KLO campus of Okanagan College during lunchtime.
The event organizer admitted some may have found the images, which were visible to passing motorists and pedestrians, disturbing.
"Colleges and universities are a good place because of the young adult population," said Marlon Bartram, Kelowna Right to Life Society executive director during the hour-long event. "They're more susceptible to abortions.
"We feel they're the ones that need to know the truth about abortion; need to hear the message and see the message perhaps more than any other demographic."
Bartram and the others were also marking the 25th anniversary of the Jan. 28, 1988 Supreme Court of Canada decision that struck down abortion laws in Canada. The so-called Morgentaler decision gave women the right to access the procedure universally.
According to the Right to Life Society, that amounts to 100,000 abortions every year in Canada, with an estimated 1,000 performed annually in Kelowna.
The members of the society have become a common sight, protesting every Tuesday in front of Kelowna General Hospital, where abortions are performed locally, but in contrast to the written messages they carry there, the signs they held Thursday showed photographs of abortions.
While he admitted that there was a mixed reaction to their content, Bartram said there was still a purpose to them.
"Some are very much in favour of use being here and others, of course, would prefer that abortion remain hidden," he said.
"Graphic images are used in all sorts of reform movements to great success," he said. "All we're doing is simply exposing the truth. It is unfortunate that a child may see that, but we feel it's far more unfortunate that children are being slaughtered every day in this country."
Okanagan College student Ragena Derkach, a first-year psychology student, who said she considered herself pro-life, was not convinced the graphic signs were necessary.
"Personally, I agree with what they're doing, but I don't agree with the picture," she said as she waited for a bus. "Seeing something like that is really hard for me. I don't think it should be as graphic as
"Seeing dead fetuses, for me, is just inappropriate."
While the demonstration was quiet, other than the occasional honk from a passing car, the pro-life contingent motivated UBC Okanagan student Jaicee Payette to carry her own sign supporting the other side of the argument.
"They bring me out here," she said, pointing out the pro-life group only a few metres away. "I just think it's such a touchy subject.
"I have another sign that says 'Ban all abortion signs in Kelowna,'" she added. "If I had it my way, none of us would be allowed out here. It's a personal endeavour for anyone who does it.
"I respect both sides of the argument, I totally understand where both sides are coming from, but at the same time, there shouldn't be signs with aborted fetuses on the side of the road."