Guelph and Area Right to Life is seeing a dream come to fruition as a one-of-a-kind memorial is finally in progress beside one of Guelph’s most prominent landmarks, the Basilica of our Lady Immaculate. In the works for three years, this “Garden of Grace” is a memorial to lives lost to abortion and miscarriage. It will feature a walkway, a garden, seating areas, and two life-size bronze statues, one depicting Jesus holding a baby and the other a lamenting angel kneeling over an empty crib.
Jakki Jeffs, former president of the Right to Life group and the organizer behind the garden, said it is intended as a place for mothers who have lost their babies to grieve; until now “their children haven’t been given a place of rest.” The garden is meant to serve as a place for women to know that their children are valued, not forgotten.
Calling it a Garden of Grace shows the intention behind the garden – a sense of peace, forgiveness, and hope; however, it is not being taken that way by abortion advocates. Abortion advocates are outraged that abortion is being included with miscarriage loss, claiming it shames women who have had abortions and tells them they made a poor choice. They fear the public and prominent nature of the space gives it unnecessary attention, and are arguing that the church should not allow their land to be used in this way and the city should not allow the statues to be erected, despite the fact that the Right to Life group is fully funding the project.
The very fact that people are outraged over a space to mourn lost unborn life is a sad, if accurate, reflection of a culture that has tried to sweep those lives under a rug. Many women are forced to mourn quietly and privately, because their grief makes others feel uncomfortable. Miscarriage loss is coloured by abortion politics’ refusal to recognize the value of pre-born children, and abortion loss is shadowed by guilt and cultural pressure to take pride in your choice.
For the Guelph and Area Right to Choice group to start a change.org petition calling the Garden of Grace a Garden of Guilt is to admit to a level of discomfort with abortion that the author or organizers have not faced or dealt with. Guilt is not something anyone else makes you feel if you are genuinely confident in and comfortable with your decision.
This attempt to drum up protest shows that Guelph and Area Right to Life couldn’t be more accurate in their claim that there is a need for a space like this, a space to grieve lost life and the memories associated with it.