The stories are familiar: funding for abortion being proposed as foreign aid, a vote on euthanasia, a National March for Life in Ottawa, university administrators harassing pro-life groups. Similar events have become a normal feature of the news cycle and, of themselves, bring no surprise to members of the pro-life movement. Although the headlines are familiar, the news is not— the outcome of these recent events is surprising.

Instead of being included in the G8 maternal health initiative, funding for abortion was not included following the courageous stand of the Conservative government and a stunning parliamentary vote affirming its position. In refusing to include funding for abortion as part of this initiative, Parliament gave the pro-life movement a rare and significant political victory. Parliament also soundly defeated Francine Lalonde’s euthanasia bill, sending a clear message to all Canadians that death is not a therapeutic measure, nor are the elderly and disabled a burden to be disposed of. These parliamentary victories are welcome, but they are not simply isolated political power plays. When more than 12,500 dedicated pro-lifers arrived in Ottawa for the National March for Life, the mainstream media did not ignore this fact, as they usual do. This year’s march – the largest ever – enjoyed extensive, if incredulous, coverage from many major media outlets. The pro-life issue took center stage again when Cardinal Marc Ouellet and Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, in a widely covered press conference, restated the Catholic Church’s unchanging position on abortion: that it is a profound evil; a social injustice of the highest order.

Finally, despite the shameful campaign of intimidation and discrimination waged by undemocratic student unions and pusillanimous university bureaucrats, campus pro-life groups across the country are courageously and zealously spreading their winning message. Nor have those hostile to the pro-life message been successful in their repressive efforts: in June, the University of Calgary Students’ Union formally withdrew its complaint against the campus pro-life student group and, in July, the University of Victoria pro-life club was formally reinstated.

This series of events heralds a new day for the pro-life movement. The recent legislative victories demonstrate that being publicly pro-life is no longer beyond the pale, but is, instead, a politically viable position. This change in the political landscape corresponds with a shift in the public’s perception of the pro-life cause. In a news release entitled, “The New Normal,” Gallup reported that, for second year straight, “more Americans call themselves ‘pro-life’ than ‘pro-choice’.” What the pollsters call the new normal, we call a new moment: the pro-life moment.

The seeds which were sown so long ago, and which so many have nurtured, have begun to sprout; a Culture of Life is slowly but steadily emerging in Canada. In recognizing this pro-life moment, however, we are by no means trading in a tawdry triumphalism, nor are we claiming that there is no more work to be done. We are, instead, emphasizing the crucial importance of the political and cultural moment in which we find ourselves, and the unique opportunity we now have to reshape the debate about life issues in our country.

The pro-life position is now no longer a dangerous liability or political boogey man. The old smear against socially conservative politicians – that their positions constitute a “hidden agenda” – now encounters the pro-life view as a successful, mainstream political position. Thus, instead of trading on fears, rumors, and innuendos, advocates of abortion must now publicly defend their views. In having to argue for the legality of prenatal infanticide, abortion advocates will show the Canadian public just who the radicals in this debate really are.

“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites … But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting” (Mt 6:16-18). When the “40 Days for Life” campaign started in Canada a few years ago, it began with just a handful of dedicated pro-lifers, praying for an end to abortion. This small campaign of prayer and fasting has become a major national campaign, and is not unrelated to the unique moment in which find ourselves.

But, if the pro-life movement in Canada looks more vibrant and effective than ever, it is because we have anointed our heads and washed our faces; a spirit of prayer and fasting remains. As we face this new moment, it is with the austere discipline of a penitential season, and a willingness to make sacrifices for our cause. But, most of all, we encounter this moment with gratitude. We greet a new day in Canada, and we bring our message in defense of the elderly, infirm and unborn to our country with hope, confidence and joy.