“Today’s been kind of slow,” said Joe McKinnon, a round-cheeked 14-year-old with an aw-shucks grin. He clarified, “No one’s yelled at us.”
It was tough to imagine anyone wanting to yell at Joe—his soft, polite face scarcely peeking over the sandwich board he was propping up last Wednesday with his older sister, Grace. The board itself, positioned to face Bay Street, depicted a blown-up photograph of a bloodied, aborted fetus.
It was one of 15 anti-abortion demonstrations last week (three a day), set up by pro-life organization Show the Truth at a number of high-traffic locations—Brookfield Place, the Eaton Centre, and Union Station included—to spread their gospel to the city’s passersby. The group’s mandate, said longtime member Leeda Crawford, is to “teach people about what abortion really is.”
Show the Truth coordinator Rosemary Connell once worried that the imagery would be too much for some to handle, particularly children. That’s changed—the images, she said, affect adults more than kids, and the kids respond more to their parents’ disgust than they do to the pictures.
“Young children have no concept of it. Older children—nine, 10, 11—ask some very deep questions,” she explained. “They need to develop their sense of right and wrong.”
Show the Truth members hail from throughout Ontario, and they range widely in age. Joe wasn’t the youngest of the bunch; that happened to be his 10-year-old brother, who shared a poster with their mother. The Connells come to the city every year to protest, and devoted about 30 hours last week to the cause.
The reactions, Grace said, are always the same. “Yesterday morning, a girl came by and broke a couple of our signs,” she said nonchalantly. “We’re used to it. We’ve done it for a while. It’s not anything new.”
“It’s an enjoyable time,” added Joe. He seemed like he meant it.