On Jan. 28th, pro-life forces in Winnipeg rallied together to commemorate the loss of those babies killed through abortion since the Supreme Court of Canada declared the existing law with respect to abortion unconstitutional 10 years ago.
The main event was a demonstration at the Law Courts Building at Kennedy and York Streets, during the noon hour. Other than the attention we got from the passing cars, reporters started arriving on the scene with their video cameras, scanning and zooming, taking in the scene. Well, at least we’d also get some attention from the media.
In an ironic twist of messages, an advertising neon sign across the street kept flashing its message, alternating in French and English: “It’s your life, take charge!” It flashed its programmed message at the top of an advertising panel with unrelenting monotony. I’m not sure what the advertising was meant to convey, but I knew it had nothing to do with the reason for our presence across from its rolling text. Yet, “taking charge of our lives” was just what we were doing, standing there, also attempting to take charge of the lives of the preborn, who cannot “take charge” themselves.
After half an hour, we broke up, and drove down to the Morgentaler clinic on Corydon Avenue, where the Manitoba government pays only for the doctor’s fees of performing an abortion. It’s the only place were abortions have actually been declining over the years. Here we put in another half-hour shift. As we displayed our signs, a young passerby came upon the scene. Pointing to the clinic, he asked, “You mean to say that abortions are actually committed in that place? Well, I live only a few blocks away, but I didn’t know.” He seemed rather disturbed at the realization as he went on his way.
In the evening, a short ceremony was held at the monument for the unborn, in the St. Boniface Cemetery. About 40 people joined forces with lighted candles, taking part in witnessing and prayer.
From the standpoint of press coverage, this was a perfect example of media bias regarding the abortion issue. If pro-lifers had not forgotten the fateful day 10 years ago, which signaled the means by which we would have had abortion on demand, neither had the pro-aborts. Media coverage was heavily slanted toward the “pro-choice” side of the issue, in TV, radio and newspapers. The Canadian Abortion Rights Action League (CARAL) had arranged to interview Henry Morgentaler. It seems that what he had to say was far more important than any attempt to gain protection for Canada’s preborn citizens.
For me personally, the day was a stark reminder of the circumstances in which I found myself 10 years ago. It was one of those occasions that remain engraved in the mind, such as when I learned about the Kennedy assassination, or our major March 4 snowstorm in 1966. I was at work listening to the CBC news when I learned about the infamous court decision, that rendered the existing abortion law unconstitutional. Being involved in the pro-life movement, I knew then that our battle had taken a giant turn for the worse. Shortly afterward, I spoke to Joe Borowski, who heard of the court decision on his car radio. He said he almost drove his car off the road, adding, “What hope have we got now?”
That question remains unanswered 10 years later, as the pro-life movement is constantly put in a position of defending itself. The recent shooting of an abortion-committing doctor in Winnipeg has added fuel to the fire for those who insist on connecting acts of violence to the pro-life movement. Elsewhere, severe restrictions are placed on those who exercise their right to protest as citizens of a democracy.
The public mindset on abortion at best allows us to exist, but views us as a fringe movement, heading for extinction. It is the pro-aborts who are still paying attention to our goals, determined as they are to gain an ever increasing stranglehold on their position through easier access to abortion, and public consent. It is they who must wonder why we still exist, and what it is that keeps us kicking.
As pro-lifers, we take heart in the fact that it’s not our battle we’re fighting, but God’s. And we consider the words of former U.S. president Woodrow Wilson: “I’d rather fail in a cause which will ultimately triumph, than triumph in a cause which will ultimately fail.”
(Niel Slykerman is head of Campaign Life Coalition in Manitoba).