Pro-choice groups protesting against Human Life International have scored another victory.
HLI is holding its 18th annual world conference behind closed doors this week – no candlelight procession, no outdoor mass.
The loopy pro-lifers, who believe homosexuals to be one of the biggest threats to procreation, have decided to stay inside the airport-area International Plaza Hotel for their five-day conference, apparently because 3,000 demonstrators pelted the Christian crusaders with eggs, beer bottles and tomatoes at their last Canadian convention, held in Montreal in ’95.
It’s another victory for pro-choice activists. One of the first, during HLI’s 1992 conference in Ottawa, was the establishment of a new abortion clinic. Buoyed by the support of demonstrators, the Ottawa Pro-Choice Network established a campaign to set up the clinic.
HLI claims to be a non-violent organization. “HLI has again called for a cessation of all violent activity, including even the threat of acts,” HLI’s web site reads (incidentally, it’s the only accessible document on the web site, which was disabled sometime last week).
HLI’s hatred for Jews, homosexuals and Muslims is well known. Randall Terry, an oft-quoted HLI supporter, makes no secret of his goal to establish a “Christian fundamentalist state with no room for a secular government.”
The notoriety of some of speakers at this year’s conference underscores HLI’s ominous agenda. The 47,000-strong organization’s leader, Father Paul Marx, has written that Jews lead the abortion movement and must “face up to their role in the greatest holocaust of all history, the abortion holocaust.”
Another speaker, Joan Andrews-Bell, served two years of a five-year sentence in a maximum security prison for her participation in a “rescue” at a Pittsburgh abortion clinic. HLI’s US spokesperson, Don Treshman, was convicted in February for his participation in the anti-abortion web site Nuremberg Files, which lists addresses of abortion doctors, three of whom were killed.
And Judith Reisman, whose speech will attempt to debunk the late sex researcher and closeted homosexual Dr Alfred Kinsey, has saidthat “Hitler was brought to power by the homosexual movement.”
Yet demonstrators don’t fear that anti-HLI activism may provoke retaliation. Instead, their concern is that if pro-choice protesters don’t express their opposition, other anti-abortion groups will increase their activities.
Staff at abortion clinics are similarly calm. “We believe HLI to espouse violent views and [that it] attempts to intimidate and harass people, so we’re always concerned. [But] we have faith in the police and in all types of law enforcement to protect women’s right to choose,” says Cathy Columbo, assistant to Dr Henry Morgentaler.
But a call to Metro police doesn’t inspire confidence. “I don’t think it has anything to do with us,” says one duty officer. “There’s nothing in the book and no press releases.”
A subsequent call confirms that there will be police monitoring the protests, although spokespeople won’t say how many. “[W]e just want a peaceful protest. There’s no reason to think it will be otherwise,” says sergeant Ed Lapinski of 23 Division, who doesn’t know if police will also provide added security for abortion clinics.
Anti-Racist Action will hold a demonstration against HLI at 11am on Sat, Apr 10 at Christie Pits (Bloor and Christie). That’s where buses will depart for the hotel, located at 655 Dixon Rd.
Call (416) 631-8835.