Pro-lifers have good reason to be elated by the thousands of youngsters who turned out in May for the largest annual pro-life march ever to take place in Ottawa. This event is symptomatic of a persistent trend toward greater awareness among Canadian youths of the sanctity of unborn human life.
The parents and grandparents of these youngsters were told in their youth – and many believed – that an unwanted baby is like a cancerous tumour that a mother might have surgically removed without compunction. Today’s youngsters know better. Thanks to ultrasound imaging, they have a clear understanding that a fetus is not a mere blob of tissue, but a unique, living, developing human being.
When, though, will our nation’s politicians start to reflect this expanding awareness of embryonic human life? When will they overturn the infamous ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Morgentaler, 1988, that eliminated all legal protection for the lives of babies in the womb?
The answer, alas, is: “Not any time soon.” In January, Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised that his government “won’t be initiating or supporting abortion legislation and I’ll use whatever influence I have in Parliament to be sure that such a matter doesn’t come to a vote.”
Harper has kept this commitment. In June, the current Parliament refused to vote even on a non-partisan private member’s bill introduced by Conservative MP Leon Benoit that would make it a criminal offence for anyone to kill or injure a baby in the womb while assaulting, wounding or committing some other offence against the child’s mother.
Harper will allow a free vote this fall on a motion to reopen debate on the issue of same-sex “marriage.” Supporters of the natural family might, with an all-out effort, get this motion to pass, but the outcome is far from certain.
The Conservatives could even win a majority of seats in the next election, yet supporters of the right to life and traditional marriage might still remain in the minority, because of the number of amoral libertarians within the Conservative Party, especially in Quebec.
What, then, should pro-lifers do? Considering all the setbacks over the past 40 years and anticipating the difficult challenges ahead, should we throw up our hands in despair and wait for a future generation of Canadians to reaffirm the sanctity of human life in this country?
Surely not. All of us have a duty at all times to do whatever we reasonably can to uphold the sanctity of human life, regardless of the political circumstances.
During the Second World War, the great majority of Germans – Catholic, Protestant and secular – either supported Hitler or cowered in fear. Today, we honour the memory of resisters like Cardinal Clemens von Galen. In a heroic sermon in Munster Cathedral on Sunday, August 3, 1941, he denounced the infamous Nazi euthanasia program.
Citing a pastoral letter issued a few weeks earlier by the Catholic hierarchy of Germany, Von Galen admonished the faithful: “There are sacred obligations of conscience from which no one has the power to release us and which we must fulfill even if it costs us our lives. Never, under any circumstances, may a human being kill an innocent person, apart from war and legitimate self-defence.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran theologian and pastor, was no less heroic in opposing the Nazis. He was arrested in April 1943 for helping Jews to escape. On the direct orders of Hitler, he was hanged in the Flossenburg concentration camp just days before the end of the war.
Today, many, if not most, Canadians – Catholic, Protestant and secular – have conformed their thinking to the corrupt pattern of the world. Like Von Galen and Bonhoeffer, we pro-lifers should stand firm for the truth.
In the face of all opposition, we should steadfastly resist the persistent attempts by benighted MPs and rogue judges to impose euthanasia on the sick, the elderly and the handicapped. Come what may, we should never give up the struggle to combat the mass slaughter of babies in the womb. In our time and place, we should resolve to go on witnessing to the truth, for all times and places, that every human life is sacred from conception to natural death.