Outrage is brewing in the Fraser Valley after anti-abortion “goodie bags” were distributed to children at a parade in Chilliwack on Saturday.
Claire Walker sent her 10-year-old daughter to the annual Rosedale Harvest Festival parade with a group of friends, and said she was shocked when the girl came home with a plastic fetus and literature directing her to the Chilliwack Pregnancy Care Centre.
“I obviously was incredibly concerned about why she was receiving that in a bag full of candy,” said Walker.
“We now had to try to explain to our kids exactly what they were receiving and why they were receiving this, and I just think this is the wrong place, wrong time, the most inappropriate thing to do at a parade where there are children from newborns to teenagers there.”
Walker said the packages were being distributed from a float for the pregnancy centre, and that she is unsatisfied with the explanation from parade organizers.
“There was no apology, there was no real explanation,” she said. “They claim they had no idea which I don’t believe is true, and I don’t know what they’re going to do about it, to be honest.
“Do I explain to my daughter what abortion is, do I explain what pro life, pro choice are, or do I wait? I was really conflicted.”
Lauren Mitchell, another area mom and member of the Rosedale Traditional School’s PAC, said she started getting a blast of angry text messages from parents Saturday evening.
She said in addition to forcing parents to have a conversation with their kids for which they might not be prepared, the materials may have ended up with some women who had lost a pregnancy.
“It could be triggering,” she said.
“There are some parents out there that might have experienced loss, and this is not something they wanted to see or deal with.”
Global News was unable to contact either parade organizers or the Chilliwack Pregnancy Care Centre on Monday.
The pregnancy care centre, which shares an address with the Chilliwack Pro-Life Society, says on its website that it offers information and support to pregnant women, and that it does not “offer, recommend, or refer for abortions or abortifacients.”
Parade organizers did post a statement to the event’s Facebook page Monday afternoon.
In the post, organizers said they were unaware that the plastic fetal models were being distributed.
“We understand that some people felt uncomfortable with the distribution of fetal models at a family festival,” said the post.
“These concerns have been heard; going forward, as organizers of this festival, we will do our best to ensure that any parade materials distributed by parade participants will work towards the festival’s goal of fostering a sense of community spirit.
The post went on to say that none of the models or literature distributed depicted aborted fetuses, and claimed that the materials were “not inherently religious, political, or anti-abortion in nature.”
But Walker said from her perspective, there is no question the materials were taking a position.
“Children are expecting to get candy and have a good time, they’re not expecting a political view,” she said.
“There are a lot of people online who have said, ‘It’s just a little toy, we’re explaining what the baby looks like in mommy’s belly.’ But let’s be honest, that’s not what they’re trying to do, I don’t think.”