I got out the big scissors this week and cut my Bank of Montreal Mosaik (sic) MasterCard in half. This was after visiting the branch to settle any outstanding bills on the card.
“May I ask why you’re killing your card?” the teller asked politely, and I explained that the bank had an anti-abortion affinity Mosaik MasterCard, and I wished to express my anger with scissors and, more important, with my money.
The teller was shocked and ashamed, and the polite branch manager clearly didn’t believe such a card existed, though he put his head on his desk and groaned when I told him about my changed plans for moving new GICs to his bank.
This is how most people react to the news of the credit card. It’s just too weird. But BMO has had this arrangement with Ottawa-based LifeCanada for 10 years, and now that pro-choice customers know about it, they are beginning a drive to boycott the bank. When I ask whether BMO approached the anti-abortion group or it approached BMO, the bank says it doesn’t keep records that old, which is odd. I do, and I’m not even a bank.
The card’s existence became known only recently, perhaps because LifeCanada’s appalling website has been up for only a year. As the site explained last week, “When a new account is approved, the Bank of Montreal makes a financial contribution to us. Furthermore, when you use your card, an additional contribution is made to us from Bank of Montreal.”
The bank says it has many affinity cards — 160 in all, for organizations that include Carleton and McMaster alumni, political parties, trade unions and, interestingly in this case, the Canadian Cancer Society. It has no plans to end its affiliation with LifeCanada and, yes, bank chairman Tony Comper is aware of the situation.
Why would the cancer society be interested? Because there, on the LifeCanada site, there once sat a gleaming picture of its Mosaik MasterCard with blue skies and white clouds. That image, which served as the link to applying to BMO, disappeared the other day — but not the link just above it labelled Abortion Breast Cancer.
Click on this and you can purchase a video offering advice to “women who are at increased risk for breast cancer after an abortion.” The video claims to provide “convincing scientific evidence presented by two acknowledged world experts on the Abortion Breast Cancer Link.”
The two experts are Dr. Joel Brind, a professor of human biology and endocrinology at Baruch College in New York, and Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, listed as an assistant professor of surgery at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey. (When I called the medical school dean’s office, several staffers couldn’t find hide nor hair of her. But one expressed a desire to come to Canada. “Sure, come for a visit,” I said. “You don’t understand,” she said, sounding a bit desperate. “I really want to come to Canada.”)
It turns out that Dr. Brind and Dr. Lanfranchi are well connected to U.S. anti-abortion activism through an agency called the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute.
Abortion rights soon will be crushed in the United States, and this is the source of the revived aggression of the anti-abortion movement here. LifeCanada’s list of members includes Lifebank Cryogenics in Burnaby, B.C., Lawn Right to Life in Newfoundland and A.S.L.A.N. (Alberta Students for a Life Affirming Nation) in Drayton Valley.
Can having an abortion cause breast cancer? I checked. The Canadian Cancer Society, as well as Dr. Henry Morgentaler, the Auschwitz survivor whose crusade won abortion rights for Canadian women in 1988, told me that there is no medical evidence whatsoever for such a link.
The society receives donations from just about everybody, including men and, yes, the Bank of Montreal. Breast cancer is so common now that everyone’s life has been touched by it in some way. Canadians’ efforts to raise money for breast-cancer research have been stellar. And Canadians are overwhelmingly pro-choice.
I cannot think of anything more cruel than to tell a woman with cancer that it was her fault because she didn’t keep the little “Jewel for Jesus” (as LifeCanada calls them) she was left with after being raped. Or to tell a teenager that, if she has an abortion, she’ll get breast cancer later. Any Canadian adult would be enraged by this, which is what I told BMO, the institution that has organized my money since I was old enough to get an allowance.
The bank’s glossy booklet of First Principles states that it must work to the letter and spirit of the law. The bank does not “knowingly lend for purposes that support the suppression of basic individual freedoms.” It does seem that this affinity card violates that rule, but the bank’s media-relations chief says BMO just provides “financial services to Canadians who want to do business with us.”
Driving down a Toronto expressway, I pass a Bank of Montreal billboard. A smiling young woman is saying, “Now it’s time for me to bring home the bacon.” I don’t know what has precipitated her decision to get a job. But it does seem strange that she’ll be depositing her paycheque with a bank that has been associated for a decade with a group fighting her most basic interests — her control over her own body.