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No Garden of Guilt for Guelph

This petition had 200 supporters

In December of 2014, the anti-choice group Guelph & Area Right to Life launched a fundraiser for a project they're calling the "Garden of Grace." In addition to fundraising at Guelph Gives' Giving Tuesday event that year, they also started a crowdfunding page to help reach their goal of $45,000 for this Garden. Only 12 donors contributed, giving them a total of $2,215. Since then, one donor committed the funds for one of the proposed statues, and recently another donor has promised the balance, and more. In total, the organisation is spending $91,000 on this endeavour.

The purpose of this space is apparently to "serv[e] as a memorial to life lost through abortion and miscarriage" (Guelph Today). Unfortunately, we at Guelph & Area Right to Choice feel as though the experiences of those who have had miscarriages are being co-opted to further the group's anti-abortion politics. Scott Miller of House of Esau Ministries proves this by saying, “The Garden of Grace will remind post-abortive parents of the healing realities that their child forgives them and awaits that joyous reunion in eternity that no one can stop. It will also remind them of the forgiveness of God which makes that reunion possible. This will be a healing agent for our culture which has deep abortion wounds that the reality of Jesus can minister to” (YouCaring).

One of the statues set to be erected in the Garden was designed to deal specifically with abortion. It depicts an Angel draped over an empty crib, and is entitled I Knew You in the Womb (on the right in the picture above). Garden organiser Jakki "Jeffs said many women who choose to have abortions come to have a deep regret for the decision. They need a public space where they can reflect on the 'child they have lost.' ... 'But there is nowhere for them to grieve and recognize those little ones,' she said. 'I had the idea about three years ago that maybe we could find a space where it would be safe for them to do that, where they could recognize their little one and reflect on the decision they made'" (Guelph Today).

Jakki Jeffs is wrong. 95% of women who have had abortions do not regret it (Time/PLOS ONE), but it seems as though Jeffs believes we should.

Some of us may go through a sort of grieving process; however, this rhetoric is not conducive to positive healing. Rather, it serves to shame those who have had abortions and condemn the act itself. This would not be a safe space to grieve not only because of this shame and condemnation but also its overtly public nature. While the property is owned by the Diocese of Hamilton, who gave access to Right to Life, the Church of Our Lady, which sits metres away from the planned Garden, is a highly popular tourist attraction for those visiting Guelph. Historian Gil StelterIt has called it Guelph's number one stop for tourists (Guelph Mercury Tribune). It is known for its beauty and classic architecture; we do not want Guelph to be known for this guilt-inducing Garden, which pedestrians are forced to walk by on their way to the Church.

The Church of Our Lady is a National Historic Site of Canada, has received public funding, and shares its property with the city-owned Civic Museum. Guelph residents were not consulted about this project, and we believe that this Garden of GUILT should not be built. We are asking the Diocese of Hamilton to retract its donation of land and Right to Life to cease construction of a $91,000 attack on our rights. We want the project to be completed as is - a limestone walkway.

Add your name to those of us who believe in reproductive freedom, bodily autonomy, and the right to choose.

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