A farmer's field in Abbotsford has become the latest battle zone for both sides of the abortion debate.
The opposing sides on the abortion issue are at odds over planned signage and an existing row of crosses in a farmer's field adjacent to the TransCanada Highway near Sumas Way.
Joyce Arthur, the executive director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, sent Abbotsford's mayor and council a letter last Tuesday asking that the white crosses and any signage be removed from a farmer's field at 35164 South Parallel Rd.
"Each of the erected crosses in the field is meant to represent a woman's abortion," Arthur noted in the letter.
"But many women having abortions are not Christian and would find it doubly offensive to have their abortion represented by a cross. Together, the sign and crosses are a misappropriation of a woman's private experience that is absolutely no one's business . . . We believe therefore, that the city's approval of the sign is an act of discrimination against women.
"The city should foster a community culture that respects women's rights and freedoms by not approving initiatives that directly oppose these values and existing law."
The crosses in the field are called The Cemetery of the Innocent. According to the Abbotsford Right to Life Society's spokesman, Jared White, there are 1,862 little white crosses on the property.
He said that is the number of abortions performed each week in Canada.
Each year, two signs are erected on the private farm. This year's are expected to be put up soon. One will say: 'Choosing Abortions stops a beating heart'. The other sign says: 'Pregnant? Need Help? Call 1-877-88-woman'.
White said in past years there has not been any negative feedback.
"For the most part there has not been much controversy over it," he said.
"Usually we get positive feedback from the community.
"Our motivation is to help women. We are not out to offend anyone. We are quite open and happy to speak with anyone on this topic," he said.
Abbotsford resident Kim Stuckless said she would like to see any signs and the crosses removed from the field.
"I am personally offended by it," said Stuckless.
"I don't think it is appropriate for city council to allow it. There are people who don't want this display."
Abbotsford mayor Bruce Banman said signs on the property in the past have not contravened any city bylaws. And, because the signs and crosses are on private property, he said there is little they can do.
"It is not in violation of any sign bylaw," he said. "It comes down to freedom of expression. It is one group opposed to the views of another."
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