By Paul Schratz, BC Catholic July 20, 2009
Ted Gerk is not a fan of secrecy, especially when it comes to government involvement in totalitarian behaviour.
He and his wife are of Russian heritage, and his research for a 2003 book on Soviet Catholic persecution helped reveal horrific stories of government oppression.
Hide Me Within Thy Wounds: The Persecution of the Catholic Church in the USSR, detailed the history of persecution of the Catholic Church in Russia from 1918 to its almost complete annihilation in 1939.
Now, with his cousin, Gerk is working on a book about the small village north of Stalingrad where his family originated. Their research in the archives of the former Soviet Union has produced accounts from labour camp files of his grandfather’s brothers perishing in the Gulag.
All of this helps explain why Gerk has “little patience” with governments withholding information. That, and his commitment to human life, is why he’s been such a thorn in the side of various B.C. governments.
The former president of the Pro-Life Society of B.C. has been hounding B.C. governments since the 1990s, not only opposing abortion laws, but fighting for access to abortion data that governments would prefer to keep buried.
Speaking with The B.C. Catholic, Gerk said, “The only governments that have ever tried do this are totalitarian governments.”
So in 1995 he requested a copy of the report from the province’s Criminal Harassment Unit, set up to investigate alleged persecution of abortionists and women seeking abortions after the shooting of Vancouver abortionist Dr. Garson Romalis.
B.C. Attorney General Paul Ramsay refused to release the report, but it leaked out anyway, confirming what police had said: there was no link between the pro-life movement and the shooting, and there had been no increase in any form of harassment of health-care workers and abortionists in B.C.
In 1999, Gerk requested a coroner’s investigation into live births in B.C. following mid- to late-term abortions.
His persistence led to the release of shocking information that at least several times a year, babies in B.C. were surviving abortions and living as long as six hours before dying and being issued death certificates.
Until now, Gerk’s targets have been pro-abortion NDP governments that in the 1990s introduced the abortion laws still in place today. When the NDP was ousted in 2001, many pro-lifers, including Gerk, thought there might be some change.
Instead, the Liberals have been as bound as the NDP to the unrestricted approach to abortion, and the very restricted approach to abortion information. This is despite the fact that every time abortion information has come out, there has been no evidence of increased risk to abortion staff or breaches of confidentiality, the major excuses given for secrecy.
So now Gerk says it’s “pay the piper time” for the B.C. Liberals, who were elected after the NDP made abortion secrecy an election issue.
Gerk and Campaign Life Coalition British Columbia are using B.C.’s Freedom of Information Law to show it is in the “public interest” for the Information and Privacy Commissioner to override the censorship provisions of Bill 21 and order the release of abortion-related information.
The information they’re looking for would seem completely reasonable: how many abortions are done in B.C. and where? How often do women undergo more than one abortion? How often are abortions performed on underage girls? How often do abortions result in complications?
There’s absolutely no reason that information shouldn’t be available to the public.
Their initiative deserves support, and that includes financial aid. To find out more or to contribute, visit https://stopabortioncensorship.wordpress.com or go to Facebook and search for Stop Abortion Censorship.