Anti-abortion group protesting at P.E.I. schools

A group called Show the Truth has been showing up at high schools across Prince Edward Island this week to promote its anti-abortion message.

They're displaying graphic signs they claim show images of aborted fetuses. 

Most of the protesters are from Ontario. Montague resident Anne Marie Tomlins protested with the group outside Colonel Gray High School in Charlottetown Wednesday.

We all decided we were going to get together a protest against their protest, because it is our rights and we don't want them taken away from us. — Emma Parsons

"Since I moved down here I just thought it would be nice to have them come down and help me show the truth here," Tomlins said.

So far this week the organization has protested outside three Island schools including Colonel Gray, Bluefield in North Wiltshire and Three Oaks in Summerside.

Laura Meader/CBC

Usually the group holds up its signs while buses arrive or leave schools, but Tomlins said most buses also contain younger children so they decided to protest at five schools at noon time.

Some people have been upset by the images, but Tomlins stands by the claim they are real and informative.

Students counter-protest

Many high school students have been pushing back at the protests. Tomlins said the group has been yelled at, but others have had civil discussions.

Eighteen-year-old Emma Parsons came from Bluefield High School to counter-protest outside Colonel Gray.

"We all decided we were going to get together a protest against their protest, because it is our rights and we don't want them taken away from us."

Maggie Bain is a Grade 12 student from Bluefield who also counter-protested. She said it was upsetting when they protested outside her school.

Laura Meader/CBC

"They don't cover all the topic such as types of birth control — they are just saying abortion is what everyone does and that is not a fact," Bain said. 

Rosemary Connell, the co-ordinator of Show the Truth from Ontario, said she has been having informative discussions with students and loves the atmosphere of the debate.

"They clearly told us they didn't have the information about expecting a child, about the development of a child, they had no idea the abortion techniques, how they are actually done," Connell said. 

Connell said one of their signs was damaged with black marker and the organization could press charges, but won't.

"At this point we think we will chalk it up to youth and an inability to calmly discuss an issue."

Blankets covering signs

Jason Alward isn't a high school student but he held up blankets to hide the signs of the anti-abortion protestors. He said he heard about the protests online and wanted to express his own view.

"I think unfortunately the science is misunderstood by these individuals and in the end, it is really a woman's choice."

Laura Meader/CBC

Abortion has long been an issue on the political landscape in North America.

In the U.S., Alabama just passed an anti-abortion law under which performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy is a felony punishable by up to 99 years in prison. The only exception is when a woman's health is at serious risk.

The Show the Truth group said it intends to continue protesting at other high schools on P.E.I. this week.

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