Anti-abortion group WeNeedALaw.ca set up 10,000 small pink and blue flags at Calgary’s Eau Claire park Saturday, saying each flag represents 10 children who are aborted in Canada every year.
Data from the University of Ottawa published in 2015 suggests there are indeed about 100,000 abortions each year—half performed in hospitals and half in clinics.
READ MORE: 6 in 10 Canadians support abortion under any circumstances, says Ipsos poll
It’s the first time the group has put up such a display in the city. Organizers said the goal is to advocate for specific federal laws to “protect children in the womb.”
“It’s actually interesting the conversations that take place because of it,” director Mike Schouten said. “I think it’s really because it’s not an offensive display, but people are interested, and we can find common ground very quickly.
“[The group is advocating for] a law that would protect children in the womb after the point in which they are viable, so a late-term abortion law. Also another interesting one is a law that would prohibit sex-selective abortions.”
READ MORE: Where can you get an abortion? It’s a secret
Watch below: Global’s past coverage related to abortion
Schouten cited a recent study by St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, which he suggested showed “increasingly in Canada, abortion is being used when the gender of the child is not preferred, and often when the child is a girl.”
April 2016 research from St. Michael’s estimated there are 4,472 baby girls that should have been born to Indian immigrants to Canada. The research warned Indian-born moms living in Canada may be choosing to have baby boys over baby girls, especially if they already have two daughters.
While it’s hard to definitively prove, the scientists said that based on patterns, these expectant moms could be aborting their female fetuses to try again for a boy.
READ MORE: Are Indian-born moms in Canada choosing to have baby boys over baby girls?
A few dozen passersby stopped to find out what the demonstration signified in Eau Claire Saturday afternoon.
“I think that if they’re going to do this, then they have to provide education that takes the woman into account,” passerby Melanie Murray-Hunt said.
“We’re going to fight for the right of the fetus or the child or the baby, but also let’s talk about the woman, whose body is very much involved in this.”
In Canada, abortions are legal and free. Medical ethicist and University of Toronto professor Dr. Kerry Bowman previously told Global News health care professionals will provide abortions “no questions asked” but won’t stand by abortion because of the sex of a baby.
“Any woman that comes forward and says, ‘I don’t want to have this baby because it’s a girl’—absolutely doctors won’t proceed with an abortion,” he said in April. “But I fully get that there’s a loophole here and it’s very clear.”
With files from Global’s Carmen Chai