This Priest Has Prayed at the Canadian Parliament Every Year for 30 Years for Abortion to End

International   |   Christina Vazquez   |   Jul 11, 2018   |   11:35AM   |   Ottawa, Canada

In Ottawa, Ontario, a priest has spent the last 30 years fasting and praying on Parliament Hill for the end of abortion.

In an interview with Crux, Jesuit Father Tony Van Hee discusses his experience of silent, peaceful protest on the Hill where members of Parliament gather to legislate.

At age 81, the priest said he has no plans of slowing down, and has overcome many obstacles to exercise his right to free speech.

Van Hee’s ministry began in 1989 through Operation Rescue, a pro-life organization which uses civil disobedience to protest abortion. The priest said he was inspired by one of the organization’s leaders, Kurt Gayle, who came to the Canadian Parliament during the summer of 1988 to protest the Canadian Supreme Court’s Morgentaler decision, which struck down Canada’s abortion law.

This case created a legal vacuum in which, to this day, no abortion restrictions exist in Canada. Taxpayers pay for many unborn babies’ abortion deaths, and common-sense regulations such as parental consent for minors and informed consent do not exist.

“[Gayle] and another fellow fasted for 19 days and put a balloon up in the air every five minutes to signify an abortion was taking place in Canada,” Van Hee said.

The priest then joined Gayle in his fast the following year. Even though Gayle eventually was unable to continue showing up, Van Hee said he has been present every day that the Canadian Parliament is in session, rain or shine, for three decades.

In his 30 years of peaceful prayer and protest, Van Hee has endured changing legal technicalities, but he has persisted. The priest, who would once sit in a lawn chair with several signs propped up in the grass around him, now has to stand and hold his one allowed sign at all times, according to the report. Sometimes, he even refuses to use the restroom during his vigils for unborn babies every day from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

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Van Hee’s persistent prayer and fasting is needed in Canada now more than ever. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has radicalized the legislation surrounding abortion in Canada.

Last year, Trudeau’s administration introduced a new policy requiring that any group that applies for a Canadian Summer Jobs grant sign a statement that they support abortion on demand. Furthermore, about 100,000 abortions are committed annually in Canada, and abortion is permissible through all nine months of pregnancy, for any reason, until the moment of birth, according to the Campaign Life Coalition.

Free speech for pro-lifers also has been restricted. In October 2017, Ontario legislators passed a bill that prohibited pro-lifers from reaching out to women outside of abortion clinics.

Despite the opposition he faces from the Canadian government, Van Hee continues to pray and hope.

“We are going to be defeated in this world, so get used to that,” he said. “Take on that as an attitude, but you fight and remain until that point comes. It’s like when Jesus began his passion, he didn’t resist anymore, he didn’t fight anymore. He gave himself up to his enemies.” He said, in doing so, Christ “conquered his adversary.”