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Belleville pro-choice rally condemns anti-abortion monument

“I don’t know who would want to go grieve at a monument that’s telling you that you are the perpetrator of a crime,” said Melissa Neil (left), an activist who attended the rally. Photo by Sarah Cooke, QNet News

By Sarah Cooke [1]

BELLEVILLE – More than 50 people were outside of city hall on Saturday to protest the anti-abortion gravestone that was erected in St. James Cemetery earlier this month.

Warrior Women of Quinte [2] founder Elissa Robertson said that the gravestone erected by the Belleville Knights of Columbus [3] was an “attack on reproductive rights” during her speech at the rally.

“A lot of women in our community and people with uteruses were really hurt by this,” said Robertson. “There’s a lot of talk by these (religious) groups about the grief women go through after an abortion – what about the grief of being attacked by your community after making a decision about your own body?”

The 26-year-old social justice activist said the choice to have an abortion, whether it’s health related or a personal choice, is irrelevant to others because “it’s your decision.”

Melissa Neil, a formerOttawa University student, attended the protest and said that the statement engraved on the headstone – “unborn lives matter” – is the Knights of Columbus’ attempt to invoke a similar sentiment as “Black Lives Matter”, a movement sparked by people of colour being targeted by the police and police brutality.

“Invoking this implies that people who get abortions are committing the same type of systemic violence that police officers do,” said Neil.

“‘Victims of abortion’ implies that there is a perpetrator of violence,” according to Robertson.

She emphasized this type of language is harmful because women who get abortions aren’t criminals.

The gravestone was erected on Nov. 2 which caused a backlash last week after images posted to the Belleville Knights of Columbus Facebook page [3] made national headlines.

QNet News reached out to the Knights of Columbus last week and they refused to comment on the monument.