This year's March for Life signals a turning point for the pro-life movement. I believe a shift has occurred.
The first notable occurrence was the increase in media reporting of the event this year.
Two years ago when I attended my first march, there was little mainstream media reporting.
In a letter I wrote to the Ottawa Citizen at the time, I commented on the irony that the Parliamentary pro-life Caucus's press conference--entitled "pro-life free speech suppressed in Canada"--was not covered by the press.
This year the mainstream print media, like the Toronto Sun, Vancouver Sun, National Post (even writing an editorial), Global and CTV, all covered the March. But even more remarkable, was that the more left leaning media like the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and the CBC covered the march as well. The earth shifted a fraction of an inch.
The second subtle shift was when Ottawa's Mayor Jim Watson weighed in with his declaration of ‘Respect for Life Day’. What is doubly notable about Mr. Watson's statement is that, a) even though the proclamation has occurred annually since 2002, it actually became a news item this year. And, b) it was from a mayor who publicly states he is pro-choice.
Mr. Watson said “The rights of the people of Canada including the unborn, the elderly and those with handicaps are gradually being eroded,” that “the community needs to get involved to ensure the rights of all people are respected and upheld.”
When a politician who is pro-choice, publicly states that the "rights of all people are respected and upheld", the shift is a unmistakeable. And it is newsworthy.
Third, a poll commissioned by Sun Media taken by Abacus Poll Inc (1) told us that:
- 27% of Canadians believe that human life should be protected from the moment of conception, 21% believe human life should be protected after three months of pregnancy, 11% believe human life should be protected after six months of pregnancy
- Only 45% of Canadians believed that legal abortions should be covered entirely by the public health care system. Another 22% felt that the public health care system should fund them only in extreme cases while 20% believed that they should be paid for by the patient.
- 52% of Canadians said they are not afraid of a public debate about abortion while 26% believe it is an issue that should be left alone.
Poll after poll has told us this for years. It is the consistency of the responses over the years that is newsworthy.
Even though Mr. Harper has repeatedly said since he came to power that he will not reopen the abortion debate; even though University pro-life groups are shut down across the country; even though pro-choice people say the debate is closed--Canadians still tell us time in, and time out that yes, that they want legal protection for the unborn. They say yes, we should reconsider public funding for abortions. They say yes, we should have an abortion debate. That is newsworthy.
Fourth, MPs continue to speak out in support of the unborn.
Even though few MPs were in Ottawa for the March (we had just had an election and MPs were still in their ridings with Parliament not resuming until early June), we still saw four pro-life MPs on the Hill (Scott Reid, Royal Galipeau, Stephen Woodworth and David Sweet).
And former MP Pat O'Brien told us that "Although the prime minister has said he's not interested in opening the debate, well newsflash prime minister, the debate is on. These people say so".
Last year Rod Bruinooge brought forward Roxanne's Law, and Brad Trost brought forward a petition to defund Planned Parenthood.
Pro-life MPs consistently and with conviction, stand up for the unborn, over and over again.
Finally, Father Tom Lynch, of Priests for Life Canada told us 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."
Then we looked out the window, into downtown Ottawa, and what did we see?
We saw thousands and thousands of Canadians, marching just like they did in previous years, with their ranks swelling each time they set out. These Canadians obviously feel they had a "moral duty" and a "civic right" to stand up for the unborn.
It's time for restrictions on abortion to become real. It's time for a strong pro-life MP to again take a principled stand, like many have done before.
Canadians may finally be ready for a law that would place some restrictions on abortion. Perhaps a law that would ban late-term abortions. Or maybe a law that would defund abortions.
The shift has begun and it is newsworthy.