Photo by Lina Aristizabal.
Yesterday, January 21, was the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that decriminalized abortion in the United States. Monday marks the 20th anniversary of Canada’s Morgentaler decision, a similar judgment that found the Criminal Code’s abortion provision to be in violation of womens’ Charter rights.
In the Morgentaler case, Justice Bertha Wilson wrote the following:
The decision whether to terminate a pregnancy is essentially a moral decision, a matter of conscience. I do not think there is or can be any dispute about that. The question is: whose conscience? Is the conscience of the woman to be paramount or the conscience of the state? I believe, for the reasons I gave in discussing the right to liberty, that in a free and democratic society it must be the conscience of the individual.
Two decades have passed, and this matter of conscience has become no less disputed. Across the border, abortion laws are once again a hot topic in the presidential elections. In theatres, Juno, Waitress and Knocked Up—and conversely, on the less sunny side, the critically acclaimed Romanian film 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days—have brought the shashmortion issue to the op-ed pages. And downtown, the pro-lifers have decided to throw in their two metres.
Looming just east of Dundas Square, at the corner of Dundas and Victoria streets, is an out-of-home ad sponsored by the Niagara Region Right to Life. The billboard features a larger-than-life toy soldier, his right cheek adorned with one giant tear. The copy reads, “Some toys will have fewer children to play with this year. Some 100,000 aborted children.”
Makes you think, right? Like, say, what the hell would we do with 100,000 extra babies?
But it seems this particular pro-life organization doesn’t want you to think about that. Nor do they want you to think of the separation of church and state, or the constitutional rights of women, or the myriad complicated circumstances surrounding unwanted pregnancies.
No. They want you to think of the toys.
In particular, the ad urges, consider the plight of the orphaned toy soldier. Dissed by Britney. Disparaged by peacenik parents. And now desperately, despairingly alone. What will the poor private do? Will he drown in a pool of his own toy tears? Hang himself with a piece of string in his toy bunker? Or, more disturbingly still, will he unite in misery with his orphaned compadres, forming a toy army bent on exacting their revenge on our free and democratic society? Should we be worrying about those 100,000 aborted lives…or fearing for our own?
When Torontoist called the number listed on the billboard to ask these questions—a number belonging not to Niagara Region Right to Life, but to a local organization that calls itself Aid to Women—we were put indefinitely on hold, which gave us lots of time to rethink our position on billboard bans.
By the time we got bored and hung up, we’d decided that we’d be a lot more outraged by this public display of sanctimony if it wasn’t so laughably stupid. Toys without children? Boo-freaking-hoo. What about children without toys, without proper food and care, without loving parents and homes? That’s a real tragedy. This abortions-make-toys-cry argument is just a bad joke.
Thanks to reader Lina Aristizabal for the tip and photos.