Back in 1995, the Morgentaler Clinic began a losing fight to have an anti-abortion group’s poster removed from the kiosk on Bank Street in front of the entrance to the Ottawa branch of the clinic.
The sign, paid for by Action Life Canada, featured a drawing of a heart and the message, “An abortion stops a beating heart.”
The clinic felt the sign condescended to women who were coming to have an abortion and was unlikely to make anyone change their minds. Instead, it just made them feel worse, clinic director Joan Wright told the Citizen in 1995.
Action Life said the sign was the best, last chance to reach women about to take a decision they would regret the rest of their lives.
With Action Life inking a long-term contract to rent the space in the sidewalk-sized billboard, there was little the Morgentaler people could do to have it removed.
Now, however, vandals have driven the sign away. Action Life says the company that rents the signage space, Pattison, refused to renew the lease for the sign because it was so regularly damaged by graffiti, including vandalism during the G-20 riot in Ottawa in 2002.
Today, the billboard has been replace with signs advertising Employment Ontario and Goldseal No Drain Tuna.
“We were disappointed because we had been there for a long time, since 1994,” said Action Life executive director Louise Harbour.
“I have to say there was more in the last year the kiosk was up. Certainly, every month there was graffiti and they had to clean it.”
Harbour says Pattison instead offered interior bus ads but her group wasn’t interested.
Action Life says it is an education organization so it doesn’t protest in person in front of the clinic, but other groups still do. The Morgentaler Clinic complains that the city continues to issue permits for demonstrations for the block on Bank Street south of Sparks Street.
Last week in Toronto, anti-abortion protester Linda Gibbons was again arrested for allegedly violating a buffer zone around the Toronto Morgentaler Clinic.