Time’s up for the Pontiac pro-life sign

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Added: Wed, 08/28/2019 - 9:50pm
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Tyson Burger
Éditorialiste Invitée
Guest Editorialist

The “Pontiac Pro-Life” sign in St. Joseph – a main entrance to the Pontiac - has lived its life and needs to go. The sign is old and in terrible condition; it looks like rubble from a long-ago era.
When we are trying to promote Pontiac’s clean and beautiful scenery, this isn’t an image we should be projecting to visitors passing by on Highway 148. It behoves us all to clean up our neighbourhoods and make them more welcoming. One of the few highways into the Pontiac is not the place for something looking like junk, and a public  highway is not really the place for these delicate issues and contentious debates.
There are many open-minded, non-judgmental people in the Pontiac – an image we try to convey to visitors and potential new residents and investors – but this sign
suggests the negative stereotype of a narrow-minded small town that has fallen behind in the progress and evolution of society. It is not an image to be broadcast – and the subject itself deserves more careful and respectful treatment.
Every day I drive by the tattered image of Mother Mary holding the infant Jesus, with the advertisement “Pontiac Pro-life” scrawled underneath. The suggestion of shame and judgment is saddening, knowing that a decision to have an abortion is never taken lightly; it is a life-marking step, accompanied often with depression and mental and physical anguish. It is a time when support from one’s community is most needed, not black-and-white social and religious condemnation.
An anti-abortion billboard here is factually incorrect and divisive; there are plenty of people living in the Pontiac who don’t agree. 
In an ideal world, we might replace it with a perspective that accounts for the uniqueness of every single person’s reality.  Some people may decide never to have an abortion, but for others it may be the right choice, and we shouldn’t pretend to dictate what’s best for them, or tell them how to think. Isn’t a progressive, open-minded acceptance of diversity the image Pontiacers are proud to project?
Abortion is completely legal at every stage of pregnancy in Canada and is funded and governed by the Canada Health Act.  Despite any personal disagreements, Canadian laws have kept pace with societal progress, and recognize that all human beings have full control over their bodies and minds.  Earlier this year Alabama legislated restrictive laws on abortion, attracting criticism, controversy, and a label of backwardness we surely do not wish to bring upon ourselves. What purpose would it serve to have Pontiac known as a backwater, stuck in the past?  Will that bring tourists or business investors?
The “Pontiac Pro-life” sign isn’t representative of the people who live here, nor is it an image we want to portray to our visitors. Isn’t it time we clean up all the old junk around, and take that sign down?