A graphic anti-abortion banner that hung across an overpass on the Linc Tuesday evening snarled traffic and angered some Hamiltonians.
The Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR) draped a banner with a picture of a 10-week-old fetus and the slogan “abortion kills children” on the overpass by the Upper Wentworth exit on the Linc on Tuesday during rush hour.
Police reported an accident in that area at 4:20 p.m., and further traffic incidents shortly after.
Lindsay Tompkins was stuck in a car on the Linc at 5:45 p.m. She called the banner “inappropriate.”
“No one wants to see that. It’s intrusive. It made my stomach hurt,” she said.
“We’re a country of diverse people and diverse opinions – but at the same time, I don’t believe in being intrusive or inappropriate, and that graphic just took it too far,” she said. “If I was a parent and had a child with me I would be upset. There are better ways to voice your opinion.”
Brandy Fehr saw the banner while driving to her Mountain home from her job as a housekeeper at Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington on Wednesday afternoon.
The site of the image caused the 37-year-old to become hysterical, as it reminded her of the four miscarriages she's endured over the past three years.
"I came home and I saw something hanging over the bridge and this big, horrible, dead, bloody baby," said Fehr. "I would like to say to the people who put it up that they need to understand that they are affecting people like me, who've miscarried, and the people who have had to get abortions because they were raped."
Fehr said she doesn't "believe in abortion for birth control," but added the group has gone about spreading its message in a "totally inappropriate" way.
She said she called the police to ask them to take it down. But officials, she said, told her there was nothing they could do.
"I think it’s disgusting that the police and the City of Hamilton won’t do something to take those pictures down."
Others took to Twitter to voice their displeasure:
Disgusting gory anti-abortion banner stretched across the linc by three people and police non-emergency number says it's legal?! #HamOnt— waxmonkey (@waxmonkey) September 17, 2013
Police spokesperson Const. Debbie McGreal-Dinning says that Hamilton police are aware the group is in the city and that they have been liaising with the Mountain police superintendent.
“We respect their role for peaceful demonstration,” she said. “It’s peaceful, they don’t infringe on traffic.”
When asked about the accident and traffic on the Linc about that time, she said, “I don’t know if we were aware of that location.”
"If there are infractions, we will respond to those," she said.
"When it comes to demonstrations we remain neutral, our role is to protect the public, including those participating in the protest."
Group to aims to "convey true horror" of abortion, co-founder says
Stephanie Gray, the co-founder and executive director of the CCBR told CBC Hamilton that the group is an "educational pro-life organization" that aims to "saturate Canadian culture" about the facts on abortion. She says the group uses graphic imagery to "convey the true horror" of abortion when "words are insufficient."
"We've seen women cancel abortion appointments when they see our images," she said.
The group, which is based out of offices in Toronto and Calgary, was also handing out pamphlets outside Barton Secondary School on Tuesday, she says, and they plan to stage further demonstrations on public property outside Hamilton schools. She would not say which schools.
The group has been in Hamilton before. Fred Schat, the former Dean of Students at Redeemer University College, is listed on the “endorsements” page on their website.
Gray spoke at Redeemer back in 2007, and gave a presentation called "loving the 'Least of These,' How Should Christians Respond to Abortion."
Tim Wolfert, the director of communications at Redeemer, told CBC Hamilton there is “no affiliation” between the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform and the college.
“We’ll have different speakers address the student body,” he said. He wouldn’t comment on the imagery the group uses to get their message across, but while looking at their website, said, “it is fairly graphic, that’s for sure.”