God bless Linda Gibbons:
Linda Gibbons is explaining why she has decided to refuse bail and spend the past 550 days in prison instead of opting for freedom. We are at the Vanier Centre for Women in Milton, an hour west of Toronto, sitting on beige plastic chairs around a small beige table. We are in a secure room and there are guards outside. It is just a precaution but at 62, and prematurely frail, Ms. Gibbons poses no physical threat.
One of Canada’s longest-serving anti-abortion protesters no longer thinks of being locked up as anything out of the ordinary.
Since Aug. 30, 1994, when a temporary injunction was placed around several abortion clinics in downtown Toronto at the request of the provincial Attorney-General, Ms. Gibbons has been arrested roughly 20 times and has been behind bars eight of the past 16 years — more time than Karla Homolka.
She served an earlier six-month stint for a protest in front of a Morgentaler clinic in 1992.
Her most recent stint behind bars began in January 2009. Instead of standing back the required distance from a clinic as her fellow protesters had done for years, she once again walked within the forbidden bubble zone.
She held up a sign that showed a drawing of a baby that read: “Why Mom, when I have so much life to give?”
If she would only comply, Ms. Gibbons could be out on $500 bail in mere days, thereby breaking her tortuous 16-year cycle of arrest and imprisonment. But until the injunction is quashed, she will refuse bail, insisting that would be “compromise and complicity with evil” and, to her, unthinkable.
To those inside Canada’s anti-abortion movement, Linda Gibbons is a quiet hero whose sacrifice is to be admired.
“I didn’t have the courage to break the injunction,” says retired high school teacher John Bulsza, of London, Ont., who was named in the original injunction in August 1994. “Everyone of us should have protested with her and this case would be history. She’s our Gandhi and we’re letting her take the fall for the rest of us.”
To her detractors, though, she is a self-aggrandizing pain in the ass who has no respect for the rights of others. They see nothing honourable in her commitment to the cause. She is simply another self-delusional fanatic with a martyr complex.
“What people like her do is creepy,” says Celia Posyniak, an abortion clinic director in Calgary. “They don’t even have to say anything. It’s intimidating just to have someone standing there.”
“Why is it acceptable to intimidate women making a personal and legal decision?”