More than 15,000 pro-life advocates filled the nation’s capital today as they participated in the national March for Life to draw attention to opposition to abortion, which has been allowed on demand in Canada since 1969.
The large crowd gathered for the 14th annual event in front of the Peace Tower and listened to an array of speeches before they began parading through the city streets. The crowd ranged from college and high school students to senior citizens and include people with political signs and others with religious symbols signifying their Christian faith and they were joined by Terrence Prendergast, the Catholic archbishop of Ottawa.
Jen Bradley of Milton, Ontario, told Canada Press, “I do think that a march like this, a doubling of numbers and spreading the word, such as it is, is a step in the right direction.”
Father Tom Lynch, a Catholic priest, said pro-life advocates should press Prime Minister Stephen Harper on abortion, telling Canada Press, “I think Stephen Harper has made it very clear that he and other political leaders don’t want to re-open, as he puts it, the issue of abortion or other pro-life issues. But the reality is that with every new Parliament, with every new government, we have a moral duty and we have a civic right to be able to express our opinion to be able to achieve changes in public policy.”
Georges Buscemi, president of Campagne Québec-Vie told the Canadian news outlet that the debate doesn’t have to be banning abortion, but making sure abortion businesses are not funded with taxpayer dollars.
“There could be some behind-the-scenes work done,” Buscemi said. “Different things, subsidies to different organizations, policies on health, policies on education. There are a lot of things that can be done behind the scenes to prepare for the future.”
Mary Ellen Douglas, national organizer of the Campaign Life Coalition, told the Toronto Globe and Mail that her group would be working with new members of Parliament from the Conservative Party to try to push pro-life issues.
Before the March for Life, Sun News commissioned Abacus Data to conduct a poll on abortion that found 59 percent of Canadians want more limits on abortion, 27 percent want protections starting at conception and 8 percent want all abortions to be prohibited. Just 26 percent want the abortion debate closed, more than half wanted limits on public funding of abortions, and just 45 percent want abortion funding in the public health system.
In May 1969, the nation’s Parliament passed Trudeau’s Omnibus Bill that struck down abortion laws and stripped away protection from Canada’s unborn children. Then, in January 1988, the nation’s abortion law was struck down from the Criminal Code by the Supreme Court of Canada resulting in full legal abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy.
As a result, there have been nearly 4 million abortions in Canada, resulting in the death of babies before birth and injuring countless women.
Responding to that decision with the March for Life, the Campaign Life Coalition says pro-life advocates will send the government a clear message: “Abortion kills a human being” and they want it to stop.
“The National March for Life gives Canadians an opportunity to join together and send the newly elected government a clear message that abortion is an important issue,” said Jim Hughes, the head of the Canadian pro-life group. “In the past 40 years, over 3.5 million babies have been aborted, and it’s time the Harper government re-opens the debate.”
Along with several Members of Parliament, many well-known pro-life leaders were in attendance, including Prendergast; Bishop Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, Primate of Canada; David Bereit, founder of 40 Days for Life and members of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.
The March for Life follows the recent national elections, in which Conservative Party candidates in Canada won a majority of the seats in Parliament with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s party defeating Liberals and gaining 164 of 308 seats. Although Harper has opposed pro-life legislation and said his government would not push any bills limiting abortions, the results could allow pro-life backbencher MPs to obtain more support for bills that could offer some protection for unborn children.
Canada experienced fewer abortions in 2005 according to its most recent national figures. Overall, Statistics Canada indicates abortions lowered to 96,815 during that year, a decline of 3.2 percent from the 100,039 in 2004. In 2002, there were 105,154 abortions in Canada compared with a figure of 106,270 in 2001. The number of abortions in Canada peaked in 1997 at 112,000.
For more information on the National March for Life visit www.marchforlife.ca