Anti-abortion groups took advantage of the historic backlash in abortion rights in the United States on Friday to forcefully be seen and heard in Quebec.
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A few hours after the US Supreme Court’s decision, Maya Toussaint found a flyer “Graphic Filled with Images of Dissected Fetuses” in her mailbox.
“It’s violent … It’s really, really upsetting to know that it was distributed in my neighborhood,” says the 41-year-old woman, who lives in Le Plateau-Mont-Royal in Montreal.
Dozens of nearby residents received the same bilingual material created by the anti-choice group Canadian Center for Bio-Ethical Reform.
“Abortion is a violation of human rights. Help us put an end to this.”
“I have no idea it ended up in my suitcase. My 10-year-old daughter and my 8-year-old son could have fallen on it,” says Marie-Claire Lemieux, who denounces this opportunism.
“These are rights that we take for granted in Quebec, and for the first time in a very long time we recognize that they are fragile,” says the health worker and Centre-Sud resident.
In downtown Montreal on Friday and yesterday, a handful of activists from the same organization solicited passers-by in English, armed with highly visible signs.
All this sudden activity by anti-choice organizations comes as no surprise to SOS Grossesse Director General Sylvie Pedneault.
“We expect them to be ever more present, to feel legitimized,” she says.
Additionally, their presence is no longer visible except in Montreal. Campagne Québec-Vie, an anti-abortion group, has recently settled in Quebec, Mme Pednault.
She denounces the anti-choice movement’s strategy of “sneaky” and coordinated disinformation campaigns.
For her small team, having to deny the resulting misinformation instead of helping women make whatever decision they choose is “a lot of energy wasted.”
“It is to be expected that many women will call us because they are confused about the abortion information [et diffusée par les antichoix]’ worries the director of one of only three free-choice organizations in Quebec.
Unacceptable for Montreal
For its part, the Montreal Mayor’s Office denounced “an initiative that simply has no place, here or anywhere else.”
“After a dark day for women’s rights in the United States, the sight of these pamphlets being distributed in Plateau-Mont-Royal County is repulsive and unacceptable,” she added.
Photo QMI AGENCY, MAXIME DELAND
Despite this, Montreal has no regulatory power to prevent the distribution of these leaflets, the company said in writing.
Pro-choice demonstrations are planned outside all Quebec courthouses today.