The daughter of a former mayor of Taber was outraged to discover benches with a pro-life message during a recent visit to the resting place of her departed parents and is calling for the ousting of the advertisements.

Sheila Lord, was born and raised in Taber, and makes the trip from her Okotoks to the Taber Memorial Gardens on a regular basis to visit the columbarium where the cremated remains of her parents are stored. During a recent trip, she was disturbed to spot a divisive ad on the resting benches.

“It just says Taber Pro-Life in big black letters on the front of the bench,” said Lord. “To me, it’s solicitation. I want to go see my mom and dad. I don’t want to be thinking about abortion when I’m sitting there visiting them.

Lord says her father, who was Taber’s mayor in the 1960s, would never have allowed the messaged benches in the cemetery. “He was  the most loving, accepting, non-judgemental, kind person you’d ever want to meet. He would have been appalled.”

The Town of Taber’s cemetery bylaw prohibits advertisements on cemetery property but a spokesperson for Taber Pro-Life states the group donated the benches as a service to the community. “We deserve to be here,” said Sarina Tamminga. “We’re part of the community and we care about this community.”

Representatives of a pro-choice group consider the partisan benches inappropriate, hurtful and cruel. “People are going there to grieve,” said Kathy Dawson of the Alberta Pro-Choice Coalition. “There are people going there who have had miscarriages, stillbirths. They have lost wanted pregnancies due to fetal abnormalities.”

“You have people at the cemetery who are in vulnerable situations that are grieving for somebody.”

Andrew Prokop, Taber’s current mayor, declined to comment on the pro-life benches but says this is not the first time someone has complained about the advertisements. Prokop tells CTV that concerns were raised three years ago and town council voted in favour of leaving the benches in place.

With files from CTV Lethbridge’s Terry Vogt