Pro-life billboards at a Catholic cemetery in Canada were vandalized this week after months of controversy in the community.
The billboards have simple, life-affirming messages such as “Life: The greatest gift of all” and “Take my hand, not my life” next to photos of infants. But some in the Ontario city of Orillia have described the billboards “obscene” and “horrible,” and others have shouted profanities at the couple who sponsored them, Orillia Today reports.
Julie and Mike Holjevac donated the billboards and received permission to erect them at the St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Cemetery in May, a location visible from the local highway, according to the report.
“We are just making our statement of what we believe in, that life is a gift from God from conception to the natural death,” Mike Holjevac told the news outlet.
Julie Holjevac described the vandalism as “a hate crime against the Christian faith.” The vandal(s) spray-painted black paint over the pro-life messages on each billboard, the report states.
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Here’s more from the report:
Holjevac on Monday spent about two hours gently wiping away the offending paint with a soft cloth dipped in lacquer thinner.
“I wasn’t angry – I felt sad and I felt sorry for the person who did it,” she said of her initial response to the vandalized signage. “They must be suffering greatly.”
Holjevac used the same measured tone moments after a passing motorist yelled, “bitch,” apparently in her direction as she cleaned up the second sign.
“Thank you,” she called back. “Your mother brought you into the world, too.”
The signs have been a source of controversy since being installed in May.
Vandalism and violence against pro-lifers have become growing problems across the U.S. and Canada. In April, LifeNews reported another pro-life billboard with the smiling face of a baby girl was vandalized in San Francisco. Pro-life billboards are vandalized frequently.
In July, a Canadia news outlet reported a pro-life billboard in British Columbia was vandalized multiple times within a month, once with black swastikas. The billboard, sponsored by the Kelowna Right to Life Society, shows pictures of a puppy and an unborn child at about 12 weeks gestation, along with the words: “Kill puppy: Cruelty!” and “Kill baby: ‘Choice.’”
LifeNews also has reported a number of acts of alleged violence against pro-lifers in the past year, including an incident where pro-life sidewalk counselors in Arizona were targeted in a drive-by incident and sprayed with an unknown substance, later determined to be tomato juice. Police later filed various charges against a man and his teenage children, including assault and disorderly conduct.
In another case, a pro-life club at the University of California Davis was targeted in March when its members set up a poll table asking about late-term abortions. One abortion activist allegedly harassed the pro-life students and threw their materials on the ground.
In May, an abortion activist was caught on film allegedly assaulting a pro-lifer outside of a Columbus, Ohio abortion facility. Police cited the man for a fourth degree misdemeanor of disorderly conduct.