They’ve been a fixture in front of Kelowna General Hospital (KGH) every Tuesday for nearly two decades–pro-life activists.
“It will be 19 years this August,” Marlon Bartram said.
Bartram is the executive director for the Kelowna Right to Life Society, an anti-abortion group made up of about 500 members.
“Our message is a timeless one,” he told Global News. “That is life is valuable and life is sacred and that we deserve protection from the moment our life begins.”
But after nearly two decades of staging what they call a weekly vigil, the anti-abortion protestors now have a new group of demonstrators alongside of them, ones with a completely opposing view.
“Every time I drive by here to be honest, it just boils my blood because for me, I think everyone should have a choice,” Kerry-Lee Brown said. “It is not anyone else’s business except for the person who is going through what they are going through.”
So three weeks ago, the pro-choice demonstrator decided to make her own signs and stand alongside the anti-abortion activists.
“I’ve said I’m going to walk along here one day. Finally, when the whole Alabama thing started coming up, I posted something on Facebook and I had a lot of people encouraging me, so I came three weeks ago,” she said.
Since then, she’s had others, who she connected with online, join her.
“I was kind of on social media saying if anyone would like to join, you are more than welcome. The more the merrier,” Brown said. “And word kind of spread and these ladies joined this week, so I’m hoping to keep it a thing.”
On Tuesday morning, eight pro-choice demonstrators were on hand in front of KGH along Pandosy Street, with placards reading “Not your uterus, not your choice” and “Her body, her choice.”
While the Kelowna Right to Life Society said it has no problem with other people expressing their views, some members took exception to the way the new demonstrators were getting their message across.
“They are intentionally standing in front of our signs and obstructing our perspective,” Right to Life Society member Kathy Hein said.
“If you have your perspective, stand on here and present your perspective, but don’t choose to stand in front of our signs and block them. I would consider that rather rude and a type of sabotage.”
But Brown said no one in her group was blocking any of the pro-life demonstrators. She added that at no time did anyone stand directly in front of them, only beside them.
“I am not trying to sabotage anything. I mean, this is where the clinic is, this is the day it happens, so I think it’s just more of a louder message to portray, especially when the other side is there,” she said.
Hein said she’s tried talking to the pro-choice group, but received little back.
“I’m thinking you have joined in on this situation. Well, interact,” she said. “Let’s have some interaction here as opposed to just being obnoxious and closed-mouth…hooting and cheering.
“This is a very serious issue; it’s not a party, let’s talk about it.”
Brown said the pro-life demonstrators have tried to talk to her group but talking about it won’t change their mind.
“They usually come up and they just ask why and they start talking about killing babies. I said I am not open for discussion with that because it is not your choice, it is not your business. It is the person going through the abortion, that is just their business,” she said.
Both the pro-choice and pro-life groups plan to keep demonstrating in front of the hospital every Tuesday morning.