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BURNTCOAT, N.S. – It could have been so much worse.
Parents in the north end of Charlottetown say they are sickened that an anti-abortion group would hand out graphic images to children.
Amanda Livingston, who lives in the West Royalty neighbourhood, says she was literally sick to her stomach Wednesday morning after her 10-year-old daughter was handed a graphic picture by a man on the street, showing a fetus aborted at 10 weeks.
Livingston was in her house when her daughter rushed in to show what she had been given.
Members of the national anti-abortion group Show the Truth were handing the images out to people in protest of a conference at UPEI today and Friday called Abortion: The Unfinished Revolution. The conference deals with a number of topics on the controversial issue.
“The kids came in and they said a Chinese man wearing a hat and dark clothing gave them this,’’ Livingston said, pointing to the graphic image, “and was told to ‘Give it to mom’.
“I couldn’t believe it. I was choked up, I was sick to my stomach. I was like ‘Is this a joke? Is someone playing a joke on me’? It was just so disturbing. I have never seen pictures like that in my entire life.’’
Steve Forbes, another West Royalty resident, said he and his wife are very upset.
“It is grotesque and I believe intended to have shock value,’’ Forbes said. “While my wife was attending to my youngest daughter, my eight-year-old son answered the door, within earshot and with permission, and was handed one of these flyers.
“Needless to say, he has been shocked and traumatized by the images and it has fostered all kinds of questions that are, in our view, premature for his age.’’
The P.E.I. Right to Life group was quick to respond when word circulated about what Show the Truth was doing.
Holly Pierlot, president of P.E.I. Right to Life, said Show the Truth is a separate organization from theirs and uses tactics that “we don’t employ’’ but has its own right to speak.
Pierlot issued a news release. When The Guardian asked for an interview, Pierlot replied she would only respond by email.
Pierlot said they did not invite the group to P.E.I.
“We knew they were coming,’’ Pierlot said in an email to The Guardian. “We had dialogued with many other pro-life groups across Canada, including Show the Truth, when the international abortion conference (at UPEI) was first scheduled.’’
Pierlot said they have no control over strategies Show the Truth uses to display “the horrors of abortion, nevertheless, perhaps such graphic displays will impress upon Islanders the gravity of what is being proposed for P.E.I.’’
The Guardian asked Pierlot if she thought handing graphic images to children was appropriate.
“First of all, I am not aware that they are handing images out to children, so I can’t comment on that,’’ Pierlot said. “Generally, P.E.I. Right to Life recognizes the difficult nature of graphic images because they speak a horrible truth and that can cause discomfort.’’
Livingston said she’s been struggling with questions her daughter is asking about the graphic image.
“I just feel like a terrible parent because I didn’t sit there and explain it to her but I’m not ready to do that,’’ Livingston said.
The 31-year-old mother said she is pro choice but acknowledges the group’s right to get its point of view across but draws the line at handing graphic images to children.
“I know they’re trying to get a point across but I think this was uncalled for and they weren’t thinking of the kids,’’ Livingston said.