Uphold Freedom of Expression on Abortion in London, Ontario

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We call upon the City of London to uphold the right to freedom of expression, and to vote against any attempts to restrict dialogue on issues like abortion.

Freedom of expression is one of the fundamental freedoms in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and it is essential to protect discourse on important and even contentious issues in society. It is clear that the Charter protects freedom of expression on abortion, including sharing photos, like many other social reform movements also do.

This year, many of us have seen the graphic photos and video of the killing of George Floyd, which has been an essential part of the conversation on racism and the role of police — even though it is so difficult to see. The same was true during the Syrian refuge crisis, when a disturbing photo of Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, was shown around the world to highlight a humanitarian crisis — even though the photo was so difficult to see.

When it comes to discussion about the issue of abortion, photos are also an important part of the conversation and an important part of freedom of expression. The Supreme Court of Canada has held that the Charter right to freedom of expression protects all non-violent expressive activity, without discrimination based on content, however unpopular or contrary to the mainstream. This includes beliefs that the majority regard as wrong or false. In R. v. Watson, the BC Court of Appeal said that communicating beliefs about the meaning and value of human life lies at the "very heart of freedom of expression."

Finally, the London community deserves to be fully informed on the issue of abortion and about abortion alternatives.

The pro-life message — ultrasound photos, photos of abortion victims, the science that human life begins at fertilization, a message of human rights for all human beings, and information about abortion alternatives — can provide critical information for people who are trying to make a fully-informed choice about a difficult pregnancy. While we recognize that the conversation can be a challenging one, especially for those who have personally experienced the trauma of abortion, it is important that the community is able to hear about abortion alternatives, and hope and healing after abortion.

Londoners have a right to the full range of discourse on an issue like abortion, and those of us who are motivated by love to share such important but challenging information about abortion have just as much a right to freedom of expression as other Canadians on other issues.

We call upon the City of London to uphold freedom of expression, and vote against any attempt to restrict discussion on issues like abortion in London.