By Katie Dean

Have you been one of the unlucky ones to be forced to view gory photos of images of “alleged” dead fetuses? If so, you are not alone. For almost two decades now, Canadians across the Country have been subject to blood and gore in our mailboxes and on our street corners. The purpose of these images is solely to shame people into keeping unwanted pregnancies. How is this allowed is what people keep asking and that is a great question!

Two years ago, I co-founded the Viewer Discretion Legislation Coalition (VDLC), in an effort to create laws on how these images can be distributed in our society. As we all know, Freedom of Expression is protected under our Charter Rights. However, Freedom of Expression is not absolute. These images cause demonstrable harm to thousands upon thousands of Canadians. Small children find these images in their mailbox and see these images on the street while riding home from school. Many parents have reported their children complaining of having nightmares after seeing the images.

These grotesque images are a direct attack on a person’s right to choose what to do with their own body. They are thrust upon people with no thought or concern of how it may affect a child, or a person who has gone through a pregnancy loss such as a miscarriage or stillbirth.

My team started in London, Ontario. We began by blocking these images on street corners with our own signs. We then started reaching out to politicians at every level of Government. The support was great. Our NDP MPP, Terence Kernaghan, brought a Private Member’s Bill to Queen’s Park in Toronto, Ontario in 2021. It was named Bill 41 – The Viewer Discretion Act (images of fetuses). The Bill provides that no one shall send a graphic image of a fetus by mail or otherwise distribute such an image unless the image is contained in an opaque envelope, the exterior of the envelope includes a description of the contents, and the exterior of the envelope clearly identifies the sender. The penalty for violating this prohibition is a fine of $100 per image. (https://www.ola.org/en/legislative-business/bills/parliament-42/session-2/bill-41)

While this Bill has not gone any further at this time, we have had success at the municipal level. The City of London has mimicked the Bill and passed a bylaw within the City that reads:

 “No person shall Deliver or participate in the Delivery of a Graphic Image to any Residence, unless:

(a)       the Graphic Image is fully concealed within a sealed envelope or package, and

(b)       the sealed envelope or package containing the Graphic Image is marked with the following notice and information:

(i) the name and address of the person who is responsible for Delivery of the Graphic Image, and

(ii) a warning that the envelope or package “contains a Graphic Image that may be offensive or disturbing to some people.”

 The outpouring of support and gratefulness was overwhelming. People are tired of these images. Is it too much to ask for Pro-Life groups to use more age-appropriate images in their message? Is it too much to ask for a Viewer Discretion Warning? The VDLC verily believe these images are used solely to harm people, bully people, and shame people. We will continue this fight and ask for more people to reach out to help us. We need to stand united and demand the Provincial and Federal Government make change happen surrounding the regulation of these images. There is no other subject matter that would ever allow images of “alleged” bloody dead bodies or body parts on our streets. Why is it ok for the subject of abortion?

Want to be a voice to help? Want to start a petition in your area?  Reach out to us at vdlc_ontario@gmail.com or find us on Facebook.  Let’s stand together to create change.

Sign our Provincial Petition here – www.vdlclondon.ca