Anti-Choicers Fear New Terrorism Law

by Joyce Arthur
Pro-Choice Press, Winter 2001/2002

Anti-choice groups are justifiably afraid that Canada's new Anti-Terrorism Act may be extended to include them.[1] The definition of terrorism in the law, enacted in November, would likely cover anti-abortion violence such as shooting and stabbing doctors, and bombing and burning clinics. Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), Canada's national anti-choice group, notes correctly that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has already labelled anti-abortion violence as "single issue terrorism" (see the CSIS report at

Slightly paraphrased, the law's definition of terrorism is: "An act or omission committed in whole or in part for a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause, with the intention of intimidating the public, or a segment of the public, with regard to its security." Plus, the act or omission must "intentionally cause death or serious bodily harm to a person by the use of violence, endanger a person's life, cause a serious risk to the public's health or safety, cause substantial property damage, or cause serious interference with an essential service, facility or system."

Campaign Life Coalition spokesperson Karen Murawsky said, "The enforcement of this legislation could be dangerous and possibly used against us without cause." It could be used against them alright, but not “without cause.” CLC seems concerned that peaceful anti-abortion protests might be targeted under the law, but the law's definition excludes "advocacy, protest, dissent, or stoppage of work that is not intended to result in the conduct or harm referred to." Plus, Liberal MPs in Ottawa have specifically said that peaceful anti-abortion protests would be exempt.

What will be far more significant for mainstream anti-choice groups is the law's creation of a "terrorist entity" list. Groups and individuals suspected of being terrorists, or helping or funding terrorists, can be put on the list by federal law enforcement, and have their assets and revenue frozen while being investigated.[2] So the key issue is not whether Canadian anti-choice groups are terrorists themselves, but whether they have associated with or helped any extremist anti-abortion groups or individuals. Let's take a look at some of the evidence.

Matthew Trewhella, of Missionaries to the Preborn (MTTP), is an advocate of armed citizen militias. MTTP is a Wisconsin group that holds aggressive clinic blockades, pickets doctors' homes, and provides financial aid to convicted anti-abortion terrorists. Trewhella once signed the Defensive Action "Justifiable Homicide" petition and refused to condemn doctor killers Michael Griffin and Paul Hill. In January 2001, Trewhella was the keynote speaker at the White Rose banquet, an annual event honouring violent anti-abortion terrorists. CANADA: In 1998, Trewhella and MTTP worked with Campaign Life Coalition and its president Jim Hughes to put on "Show the Truth" tours in 18 Ontario cities.

James Kopp, former member of the extremist Lambs of Christ, is also associated with the terrorist group Army of God. He is given special thanks in the dedication section of the Army of God Manual—a how-to primer for clinic violence—as the "Atomic Dog (you nuclear canine)." Kopp has been charged with the sniper murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian of New York in 1998. He has been arrested at several clinic blockades in the U.S., and is the inventor of specialized lock-and-block techniques used by protesters to chain themselves together at the doors of abortion facilities. CANADA: Kopp has been charged, or is the main suspect, in the shootings of three Canadian doctors since 1994. Some believe he must have had help from Canadians in carrying out the shootings, and it is thought that Kopp may have protested at Canadian clinics in the late 1980's or early '90's.

Joan Andrews-Bell of New Jersey, invaded and burglarized several U.S. clinics in the mid-1980’s. She spent five years in jail for her anti-abortion crimes and has been arrested over 200 times. She is also a former employer of James Kopp. CANADA: Andrews-Bell was arrested in 1999 at a Toronto clinic blockade. She was in Toronto to speak at Human Life International's conference, crossing the border in spite of her criminal record. In press interviews while in Toronto, she advocated the murder of doctors at clinics. Campaign Life Coalition once called Andrews-Bell "a shining example of what the pro-life movement is all about."

Joseph Scheidler, head of the Pro-Life Action League in Chicago, was convicted of 21 acts of extortion against American abortion clinics in 1998. He is permanently enjoined from protesting at clinics in the U.S. because of his extreme harassment of them. He is the author of the notorious anti-abortion book: Closed: 99 Ways to Stop Abortion which advocates stalking, harassment, infiltration, and aggressive clinic protests. CANADA: Scheidler has been to Canada at least five times. He is a popular keynote speaker and trainer at anti-choice conferences across the country and has led protests outside abortion clinics and other Canadian venues.

Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a former abortion provider turned anti-choice, is a high-profile anti-abortion speaker and author from New York, who advocates the murder of doctors when they are "about to perform an abortion". He is the creator of the discredited film Silent Scream. Joan Andrews-Bell acted as his sponsor and godmother when he converted to Catholicism. CANADA: Nathanson spoke in BC in May 2000 at the Focus for Life dinner sponsored by the Pro-Life Society of BC and the Vancouver Catholic Archdiocese. Nathanson's presence helped raise about $100,000 for the two groups.

Mark Crutcher, President of Life Dynamics Inc. of Texas, uses sophisticated and deceptive tactics to collect and disseminate personal information on providers in order to target them for harassment and possibly violence. He uses 4,000 “Spies for Life” to gather information and infiltrate abortion clinics. Crutcher concocted the “baby parts racket” story, which involved Life Dynamics in illegal corporate espionage and the reported fabrication of evidence against providers (according to his spy Dean Alberty). CANADA: Crutcher has successfully exported his tactics to Canada. Many Canadian groups and individuals have used Life Dynamics' stock letters, postcards, and brochures to try and gather information on Canadian providers or intimidate them into stopping abortions. Crutcher spoke at a seminar of the Pro-Life Society of BC in 1991, and his tactics have been praised by Ted Gerk, a Kelowna anti-choice activist. Gerk is thanked in the Acknowledgements of Crutcher's anti-abortion book Lime 5.

Gregg Cunningham, of the Center for Bio-ethical Reform in California, is the litigious creator of the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP), a display of large photos of aborted fetuses next to pictures of genocide victims. GAP is widely believed to be hate propaganda against women because it sends the message that women are Nazis. The display is also considered racist since it exploits minority groups like Jews and blacks. Largely because of that, it has triggered student violence at several campuses and one riot. CANADA: Cunningham tried to bring GAP to the University of BC, and threatened a lawsuit when UBC refused access. Since 1999, Cunningham has worked closely with UBC's anti-abortion club Lifeline, headed by Stephanie Gray. He sponsored Lifeline's numerous "mini-GAP" displays, accompanied members to at least one clinic protest in Vancouver, and has been grooming Gray for a leadership role. Gray is now the head of the newly formed Canadian Centre for Bio-ethical Reform. Cunningham has also become a popular speaker at Canadian anti-choice events and conferences.

Given the above, anti-choice groups in Canada have good reason to fear that the new Anti-Terrorism Act will target them. Already in the United States, pro-choice groups are hoping they can use their new anti-terrorist law, the Patriot Act, to treat extremist anti-abortion groups as domestic terrorists. In particular, they point to the Army of God, which has claimed responsibility for a large number of shootings, bombings, arsons, anthrax threats, and other attacks over the last 20 years. If the American government cracks down on anti-abortion terrorism under their Patriot Act, there is no reason for Canada not to follow suit under its Anti-Terrorism Act.


[1] Concern that Proposed Terrorism Law Could Target Pro-Lifers. Life-Site Daily News. Oct. 17/01.

[2] The Anti-Terrorism Act has been widely criticized, however, by free speech advocates and civil libertarians, who say it erodes fundamental civil liberties and overrides the Charter of Rights.