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Gravestone dedicated to abortion victims in Belleville causes backlash

The headstone in St. James Cemetery is dedicated to victims of abortion. The inscription reads: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I consecrated you.” Photo by Sarah Cooke, QNet News

By Sarah Cooke [1]

BELLEVILLE – The Belleville chapter of the Knights of Columbus [2] caused quite a stir on social media over the weekend after images of its gravestone dedicated to the victims of abortion went viral.

The monument was erected in the St. James Cemetery [3] in Belleville and is owned and operated by the three Roman Catholic parishes in Belleville: St. Joseph, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary and St. Michael the Archangel.

The comment threads on the Belleville Knights of Columbus’s Facebook page [4] were laced with outcries of anger towards the headstone as well as supporters of the monument.

Heather Wilson, a professional pet sitter, says that she was confused when she first saw the gravestone.

“Your body is your own and you define your life and your choices…no other person, man or organization should be able to say that you have to do this or you cannot do that,” said Heather Wilson. Photo by Sarah Cooke, QNet News

“When I read it more closely I still felt it was a strange place to put something,” she said.

When asked if she thought the monument should be taken down she said everyone is entitled to their opinion.

“Personally I would have liked to see the money go to helping women receive birth control like low-income or homeless women who need assistance instead of going into a stone that doesn’t help anybody. Why not give the money to an organization that can help women with these issues before abortion comes into the picture,” she said.

While many individuals echoed Wilson’s thoughts on social media, not everyone was against the headstone.

Quinte Right to Life is a non-profit pro-life organization. Jane Langabeer spoke on behalf of the group and said that she was happy about the monument. She attended the “consecration” on Nov.2, which is All Souls Day in the Catholic calendar.

“I was extremely pleased because there’s not much recognition in our city about the lives that have been lost (to abortion),” said the 72-year-old who is the organization’s seecretary.

She said that she was unaware of the backlash at first and went on to say that she had no idea why people would be against the monument as it’s in the Catholic side of the cemetery.

“I like to think that all Catholics are pro-life but they’re obviously not so I don’t know what they would possibly have against it,” she said.

Reclaim Your Power, [5]a local women’s advocacy group, said in a statement to QNet News that it would be remiss if it did not mention the “negative and downright harmful impact caused by this headstone.”

“Abortion is not a decision made lightly or carelessly. It is a deeply personal experience, and one that can be fraught and traumatic. A headstone in a graveyard dedicated to the ‘victims of abortion’ puts the impetus, and consequently, the stigma, back on the women who make this already-difficult choice,” the statement read.

Warrior Women of Quinte [6] and the Political and Social Action Committee for Quinte and the County [7] are holding a rally against the gravestone this Saturday in Belleville’s Market Square from noon to 1 p.m.

Grand Knight David Cameron of the Belleville Knights of Columbus refused to comment on the fraternity’s decision to erect this monument.

QNet News also reached out to the provincial office of the Knights of Columbus and spoke with executive secretary, Denis La Salle, who said that he did not know about the monument and had no comment on it. Calls to the organization’s head office in Connecticut were not returned.