The pro-life banner hanging over Baker Street for the past two weeks has surely raised a few eyebrows.
The City of Nelson has a policy that allows charitable groups and organizations to hang banners to advertise local events or activities. But the message on the banner “Respect life: from birth to natural death” isn’t really an event advertisement.
We’re used to seeing the Road Kings weekend or the ALS Walk announced over our downtown street, but not something like this.
The Nelson Right To Life Society did have an event recently: a vigil at the Nelson cemetery on Remembrance Day to mourn the lives that were terminated in the womb by abortion.
City council also passed a proclamation at an October meeting that declares November 5 to 12 “Respect Human Life Week,” as it has each year since at least 2007.
So there were two events the banner could have advertised, but instead the message is promoting an ethical viewpoint against abortion. It’s a divisive issue and hardly a community event. It serves to further stigmatize abortion and the women (and teens) who choose to have one.
Canadians have had access to legal, medical abortions since 1988. For every 100 live births in the country there are about 28 abortions, according to figures from Statistics Canada.
We see lots of rallies and advertisements in this newspaper and elsewhere on this issue. They are supported by people who would like to see those statistics, and perhaps even the laws, changed. That’s free speech.
But we don’t think our city’s resources and public space should be used to promote issues that divide the community. The respect life banner doesn’t seem to meet the basic criteria in the City’s banner policy. It’s time for council to revisit its policy.