Anti-abortion & stem-cell-research group’s gross GTA campaigning

by | July 18, 2017

At it again with graphic photos of bloody undeveloped fetuses, the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (anti-abortion and anti-stem-cell-research group) has opted this time to erect a big poster on Erin Mills Parkway in Mississauga today. Thankfully it was facing the other direction and my young daughter didn’t see it.


Three young women have been moving this poster around the GTA lately (Photo: Derek Gray)

After dropping off my daughter, I went back to take the photo above and confirm with them that they were in fact the same group with whom I had previously had complaints (covered at My Secret Atheist Blog). Back in 2015, in the run-up to the federal election, it was a front-door postcard blast across the city, which was condemned by Mayor Crombie at the time. For election, they had partnered with a Catholic anti-abortion Campaign Life Coalition Youth.

There were three young women (you can see them partially at the bottom of the photo) sitting in the shade of the poster. Only one was talkative but declined to give her name. In answer to my questions she said they had been moving to random places around the GTA and had been in Toronto earlier in the day. They use the shocking images, they claim, in the same way as other social reform movements have used shocking images.

I asked what kind of feedback she was getting, and then specifically what was the negative feedback. I pressed her on reactions they get with the graphic pictures. She actually said “if there was a way to avoid children seeing it, we would do it.” Bullshit-detector ringing, I asked why they couldn’t simply mail their message in an envelope so my children don’t see it before I do. The response was essentially: “we found we got equal numbers of complaints with versus without envelopes.” With some confusion as to the relevance of the complaint count, I asked for more and got “we can avoid the case of people not opening the envelope by not using them.” So, no, you aren’t doing any of the many possible options to target only adults because your only concern is maximum impact. They were on a busy parkway on route to several Mississauga gyms and sports centers but she felt totally OK with that because “we wouldn’t set up right beside a day care.” Gee, thanks. (They’ve been slammed for being outside a high school if I recall…)

In total disregard for the well being of children who’ve actually been born and despite a judge virtually equating their bus ads to hate speech against women, they chose to splash these photos for maximum shock value.

23 thoughts on “Anti-abortion & stem-cell-research group’s gross GTA campaigning

  1. Randy

    Every person, indeed every student, should see what a fetus looks like, at every month of pregnancy. I got the chance to see that at a museum showing anatomist von Hagens’ plastinated bodies. Children look remarkably human, remarkably early in pregnancy.

    Further, every student should see what real sperm and eggs look like (in particular living sperm) before answering the question “when does life begin”, because it couldn’t be more clear that life doesn’t “begin”. It began at least four billion years ago. It’s a continuous process.

    The question then becomes “When (if ever) is it appropriate to kill a child?” And the answer to that question depends a little on whether it’s in still a parasitic relationship inhabiting the mother, but it also depends on what life it will have, and what excess costs it will cause society to pay to raise it and any offspring they may have. Euthanasia should be an option.

    Natural selection used to prune the human tree, meaning that we were fit for our natural environment. Now we have an artificial environment, and that’s great, except that we cannot afford it either in economic or the larger environmental terms. Sorry.

    1. steve oberski

      The question is actually “When (if ever) is it appropriate to deprive a woman control over her own body and equal treatment under the law?”

  2. Craig

    Once conception occurs, a new human life comes into existence. If we say that it’s okay to murder a human fetus, then by extension we can say that it’s okay for a human to murder another human. The fact that a human fetus is a few inches up the birth canal doesn’t change the fact that it is also alive and destined to become like you and I. Should human beings have the right to life or is it morally acceptable to murder each other at will?

    1. steve oberski

      Hey Craig, I notice that the fetus is not a few inches up your birth canal.

      Pretty easy to force your morality on others.

      Speaking of that did you know that almost half of those having abortions identified as Christian ?

      Did you also know that around 50% of conceptions terminate by miscarriage ?

      If you really want to reduce the abortion rate shoot a line to your angry sky god.

      1. Craig

        Steve, this isn’t a religious issue and you shouldn’t presume that someone is religious because they are opposed to the murdering of human fetuses.

        1. Indi

          If you were actually as serious about semantic pedantism as you are pretending to be, then you wouldn’t be using the word “murder” for abortion.

          You would also be less dishonest with your claims that aborted foetuses are “destined” to become people.

          1. Craig

            It is murder if anyone willfully does it. The term “abortion” on its own is too vague and it has the tendency of trivializing the matter.

            If we shouldn’t murder human infants, then we shouldn’t murder human fetuses.

        2. steve oberski

          Hey Craig,

          This is exactly a religious issue.

          While I did not actually claim that “you” were a christianist I am not surprised by your confirmation that you are one.

          Your “arguments”, such as they are, are copied verbatim out of the fundegelical playbook and you do not even have the honesty to cite your sources.

          You actually don’t give a shit about human fetuses, your agenda is the control and murder of actual female human beings.

          1. Craig

            Being an atheist and being opposed to the murder of human fetuses are not mutually exclusive. Where did I confirm that I am a “christianist”? What does that term even mean?

            My points stem from my own critical thinking and I don’t appreciate your vulgar tone and false accusations.

    2. Derek Gray Post author

      Craig, you can hardly be surprised that people will respond negatively to your comment and make assumptions about your beliefs if you approach the conversation by equating pro-choice supporters with murderers.

      You throw out the word ‘human’ and ‘destined’ the way a religious person would, pretending there is no debate on the issue of what constitutes “human harm’. You are rightfully pointed out as dishonest in that you try to redirect the issue as a simple matter of “is murder ok or not ok – you guys are crazy to think murder is ok”.

      Are you right that people should not necessarily equate Pro-Life with Christianity/religious belief? Yes, actually. There are in fact Humanist Pro-lifers:

      I don’t agree with them, but they exist.

      1. Craig


        Yes, when all goes well, a fetus is destined to continue its development as a human being once it leaves the mother’s body. And the parties involved do what they can to nourish this development. The uterus has evolved to be the safest or most ideal place for a fetus to develop. Don’t we hope for the best for it even though we can’t see it or handle it?

        Even though life is often or always a struggle, aren’t we glad that we exist? Aren’t we glad that we didn’t have mothers who took our potential away. I don’t know about you guys, but I love my mother and she is my best friend. Nobody will ever care about me like she does.

  3. steve oberski

    Hey Craig,

    Did you know that the maternal mortality rate in Texas is the worst in the developed world and has doubled over the last 2 year reporting period ?

    So I really can’t get upset over the fact that I hurt your poor little feelings by pointing out that your position results in the actual murder of actual human beings.

    This can be directly attributed to fundegelical christianist politicians legistlsting an anti-human world view based on a book of bronze age snuff porn that is indistinguishable from your stated position.

    1. Craig


      No, I did not know that and it is obviously a troubling matter that needs to be addressed. I think that it would be erroneous to conclude that the maternal mortality rate is the highest as a result of not enough pregnant women deciding to abort their unborn children, whether on their own accord or by being coerced.

      By the way, I have a very low opinion of politics; it’s right down there with religion.

      1. steve oberski

        Hey Craig,

        I am concluding that the murder of women is directly attributable to people like you forcing their morality on society via the legistlative process.

        When your stated opinion is that abortion is murder you become complicit in the murder of women who are denied control over their own bodies.

        Your callous disregard for human life forces me to conclude that your actions are motivated by either malevolent misogyny and/ or massive ignorance.

      2. Derek Gray Post author

        Craig, actually Steve is hitting a good point – giving birth is *always* a risk. The Texas stat just highlights that the risk is worse there, but the risk is always there.

        So how do you square putting the woman’s life at risk over the ‘rights’ of the growing cell structure that’s yet to develop a consciousness? We have a group of cells that grew from human DNA, is completely dependent upon the body it’s living in – not sure I see how this is different from other organs in the body. Do the rights of the mother’s kidney come above the rights of the mother too? (Note I’m limiting this argument to the growth period prior to the necessary neural functioning for achieving consciousness in the fetus.) That’s why I imagine most of the pro-life people are religious – they differentiate kidney from pre-conscious fetus by it’s not have a *soul*. So, Craig, how are you differentiating the two where one cell structure has rights over the mother, and one doesn’t?

        (Also – the group I mentioned in the article is also opposed to stem-cell research, so they’d be causing much more undue suffering upon humans if they got their way.)

  4. Indi


    > It is murder if anyone willfully does it.

    That is not the definition of murder. If someone “wilfully” chops down a tree, that’s not murder, even though a tree is indisputably alive. When a doctor “wilfully” amputates a diseased limb, that’s not murder, even though the cells in the limb are indisputably living *human* cells. When heartbroken relatives take a loved one off life support, that’s not murder, even thought they have literally killed a human person. When a policeman “wilfully” shoots a dangerous person that is about to harm someone else, that’s not murder either, even though the cop wilfully killed a human person who wasn’t otherwise likely to die had the cop not taken action.

    You keep using that word, but it doesn’t mean what you think it means. Clearly there is more to “murder” than just “wilfulness”, “killing”, and “human”. If you don’t want to be seen as a dishonest person, you should use words honestly. And no honest definition of “murder” includes abortion.

    > If we shouldn’t murder human infants, then we shouldn’t murder human fetuses.

    By that “logic”, people shouldn’t cut their nails. I mean, if you say killing *any* group of human cells is equally wrong – regardless of whether it’s actually a person or not – then why stop at fetuses? Human cells are human cells, right? And any killing of human cells is “murder”, right? Well, then, every time you take a bath, you’re “murdering” more human cells than all the people all the mass murderers in history managed to murder.

    Seriously, I don’t think you’ve actually given any serious thought to these claims you’re making about abortion. For example, what makes the bunch of human cells that makes up a fetus special? Why is killing *them* “murder”, but it’s not murder when a doctor removes an inflamed appendix or a tumour? Is it because the appendix/tumour is “sick”? If so – if it’s okay to kill sick clusters of human cells – does that mean it’s okay to kill sick infants? Hey, that’s *your* analogy, not mine. Also, you mentioned the idea that it’s because the cells in a fetus are “destined” to become persons, but: 1) “destined” by whom, if this is not a religious argument? and; 2) it is demonstrably untrue that the fetus cells being aborted are “destined” to become a human person… because they’re being aborted – so clearly what they were “destined” for is an abortion, not being a person. And if it’s so important that every group of cells that *might* become a person be allowed to do so, then isn’t contraception murder, too? After all, without the abortion the fetus is possibly “destined” to eventually become a person, and without the condom the sperm and egg are possibly “destined” to become a person… so what’s the diff?

    Incidentally, there’s another word you keep using dishonestly: “fetus”. In most abortions, the fetus doesn’t even exist yet. It’s just an embryo. In fact, with the pill, sometimes it’s not even an embryo yet; it’s just a blastocyst or maybe even zygote.

    You’re using loaded, emotional words dishonestly – to mean things they don’t actually mean – to try to hide the incoherence of your position. Nobody wants to “murder infants”, so you’re trying to make *that* the issue using tortured, misguided analogies, because you can’t actually muster a coherent, reasonable argument without appealing to emotion. You are trying to pretend that the problem is that the *correct* words, like “abortion”, are “trivializing” the issue because there *is* no issue without your emotional non sequiturs. And calling the word “abortion” “*vague*” for describing abortions is laughably ridiculous. It is *literally* the opposite of vague. “Murder” would be a vague term, if it were valid. But of course, you’re not trying to clarify the issue; you’re actually trying to muddy it so that your absurd analogies and emotional appeals can sound legit. When clarity is your enemy, you’re on the wrong side of reason.

    So I restate my original point: If you’re serious about arguing this position honestly, you shouldn’t be trying to use words dishonestly. Try presenting the issue honestly, without playing dishonest word games and without using transparently irrelevant appeals to emotion, and you might have a chance of convincing someone.

  5. steve oberski

    There are a number of ways of framing the abortion policy debate, the 2 main ones being the rights of the woman versus the rights of the unborn child.

    To frame the argument in terms of the rights of the unborn child is to cede victory to the anti abortion side, with the discourse degenerating into an attempt to define a discrete division between the rights of the child versus the rights of the woman, allowing for an ongoing erosion of the rights of the woman, as we are seeing now in the US.

    To frame the argument in terms of the woman is to cede no ground, what is being demanded is access to abortion on demand and without apology.

    There must be no restrictions to abortion based on any measure of child viability, the pro women’s rights side must own the fact that abortion would be available until term.

    The fact that under such a policy the number of abortions would decrease would have no effect on the anti abortion side so why bother with a discourse with a group whose intentions are dishonest from the start.

  6. Craig

    By “destined”, I mean the most likely natural outcome. As for the term “murder”, perhaps a better word is “kill” and it doesn’t have the legal connotation.

    I think that this whole debate stems from the differing opinion on when a woman becomes a mother; someone such as myself, who is pro-life, would say that a woman becomes a mother at the moment of conception/fertilization, since she is no longer nourishing only herself. The pro-choice advocates, on the other hand, would be of the opinion that motherhood does not commence until the living fetus passes through the vagina and into someone’s hands.

    1. Indi

      > By “destined”, I mean the most likely natural outcome.

      That doesn’t really help matters, because now the question is what is “natural”.

      I’m not being specious, either. The most likely “natural” outcome for *ANY* zygote/blastocyst/embryo/fetus is death. In fact, death is 100% certain… unless the mother intervenes and eats well and stays healthy and so on for the time it takes the zygote/etc. to develop. And, of course, doesn’t abort it.

      Your intention is, I’m sure, to argue that coming to term and eventually being born is the most likely “natural” outcome for a zygote/etc., and that outcome is only foiled by the “unnatural” interference of the woman choosing to have an abortion. Except, as I just pointed out, the only way the zygote/etc. has a chance of surviving *at all* to a live birth depends absolutely on the interference of the woman. So why is one kind of interference by the woman natural, and another not?

      So it is simply false to say that an abortion is killing some cells that are “destined” to become human – or that becoming human is the “most likely natural outcome”. The *real* most likely natural outcome is death, and as I pointed out before, the destiny of an aborted zygote/etc. is not to become a person but rather to be aborted. So far from being an act that violates destiny or nature, an abortion is actually doing exactly what nature does most of the time. It is the act of bringing a fetus to term and giving birth that is defying what “should” happen without human intervention.

      > As for the term “murder”, perhaps a better word is “kill” and it doesn’t have the legal connotation.

      “Kill” is certainly a better word. Though it is imprecise – “vague” to use your term – at least it isn’t *wrong*, like “murder” is.

      But of course, the problem is that “kill” lacks that emotional punch, doesn’t it? You kill countless *gajillions* of living things each time you eat a meal. And when it comes to human cells specifically, you kill more of those than the sum total of all humanity that has ever lived, every time you step out into the sun.

      And that’s really on the level of what we’re talking about here. While there is certainly some “killing” involved, it’s just the killing of cells… not people. Not even an animal, by our conventional understanding of “animal”. In the period that the vast majority of abortions happen (the first 12 weeks), the brain just isn’t functioning in any meaningful way, when it even exists at all (which it only does for the last couple of weeks of the first trimester). The different areas of the brain have separated, but the connections between them are barely functional, if at all functional. So what we’re killing, while human in the genetic sense, is not actually a “being” – not even an “animal”, and certainly not a “person”. It’s just a mass of cells. It won’t be able to survive on its own, not even with our best modern science, until at least twice the age that the vast majority of abortions happen at.

      > The pro-choice advocates, on the other hand, would be of the opinion that motherhood does not commence until the living fetus passes through the vagina and into someone’s hands.

      That is simply not true. If you can’t honestly represent the other side when making an argument, then you don’t really have an argument against them.

      What pro-choice advocates say is that motherhood begins the moment the woman chooses to be a mother. It’s kinda obvious really, even somewhat tautological. If a pregnant woman decides she’s not going to be a mother, then she’s simply not going to be one (assuming nothing stops her from making her own choices). But if she decides she *wants* to be a mother, then from that moment she has to begin assuming the responsibilities of motherhood… which, while the child-to-be is still unborn, means eating healthy, taking care of herself, not drinking alcohol, and so on.

      You see, motherhood actually *means* something to pro-choicers. It isn’t just a duty dumped on a woman by the universe without her consent or even knowledge. Because if you say motherhood begins at conception, well, women generally don’t know they’ve conceived until days or weeks and sometimes even months later. How can you meaningfully expect anyone to be a parent – mother or father – when they don’t even know they *potentially* have a child? Kinda cheapens the concept.

      No, the “choice” in pro-choice is what it’s all about. They didn’t choose that name lightly – they could have called themselves “pro-freedom” or any number of things. But it’s the *choice* that matters. When the woman decides she is going to accept the duties and responsibilities of motherhood, that’s the moment she becomes a mother. If she *doesn’t* make that decision, then she’s not a mother, just a pregnant woman… and if she is a pregnant woman who has the freedom to make her own choices and have them respected, she won’t be a pregnant woman for long; and she certainly will never be a mother.

      (A related issue is the question of when a woman *stops* being a mother. If you want to boil motherhood down to base biological facts, then wouldn’t it follow that a woman stops being a mother the moment her child dies? That’s a cruel, cruel conclusion. I’ve known women who have lost children – some after birth, but some who miscarried – and it would be a heartless, cruel, and even sick thing to tell them “your kid’s dead, stop calling yourself a mother”. Even if their child doesn’t survive the birth, women who made the choice to be mothers are still mothers. And, incidentally, mothers who raise children they *didn’t* give birth two are also mothers. Motherhood is *NOT* about base biological facts like fertilization.)

  7. Ryan

    There exists a fundamental difference between sperm or ova and a zygote. Neither sperm or ova possess an inherent potency to become an adult human being; left to their own devices, they will never be anything other than what they are. By contrast, a zygote’s telos is the development into an adult human being. A zygote has the same essence as a fetus, infant, adolescent, or adult.

    1. Indi

      A zygote does not have “inherent potency” to become an adult human being either. It requires the host mother. That’s the whole point of abortions; you take the zygote out of the mother, and it can’t possibly develop into a human. You don’t even need to kill the zygote, and the more common abortion procedures don’t; it will die on its own because that’s what it’s “telos” actually is: to die.

      Hell, a zygote has so little “inherent potency” that even if you *don’t* take the zygote out of the mother, but the mother dies, the zygote can do nothing except die too.

      If a zygote cannot possibly become an adult human without the mother not only *not* removing it from her body, but also taking conscious action to nurture the zygote at great cost to herself, then how it is any different from a sperm or ova? You can use as many magic words like “essence” as you like, but the hard facts of biology are unavoidable. All three won’t do anything but shrivel up and die unless a human takes conscious action to allow them to develop. In the case of a zygote, a female has to provide food, protection, and the proper hormonal and environmental factors; in the case of a sperm or ova, a human male or female has to provide the matching gamete.

      The incoherence of your position is self-evident. If you sincerely believe that a zygote has “inherent potency” to become an adult human being, then you should have no issues with the most common forms of abortion. They don’t harm the zygote; they do nothing but remove it from the host mother. If they zygote’s “potency” really is “inherent”, there shouldn’t be a problem – it will develop into an adult human on its own.

    2. steve oberski

      Hey Ryan,

      Left to their own devices, over 50% of zygotes pursue a “telos” of spontaneous abortion.

      Who are you to say what their ultimate purpose is ?

      I suggest you examine the ova of parthenogenetic zebra shark
      before continuing to blather on about the fundimental properties of sperm, ova and zygotes.


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