Joanna Alphonso:

Hundreds of Canadian youth gathered at the 26th National March for Life the week of May 8, which included the candlelight vigil, rally and march, as well as the youth banquet and summit.

Since its liberalization in Canada in 1969, abortion has killed more than four million preborn babies, and is currently permitted at any stage of a pregnancy for any reason. In 2021, there were 87,485 reported abortions, a decrease from the 91,551 reported in 2020. The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion organization, astonishingly reports that while the rate of unintended pregnancies has increased by 22 per cent since 1994, the rate of these pregnancies ending in abortions has decreased from 51 per cent to 37 per cent. Polling from the Angus Reid Institute, a non-partisan research organization, found that 41 per cent of Canadians have no firm opinion on the topic of abortion, with about 52 per cent firmly pro-abortion and 8 per cent completely pro-life. Among these 41 per cent, some believe that abortion should be restricted to various milestones in neonatal development, such as the commencement of the heartbeat or fetal viability outside the womb. What do these statistics mean for the future of Canada? The youth attendees of this year’s March for Life events shed some light on this.

Tanya, a young mother from Quebec, shared her story at the candlelight vigil and March for Life rally. Finding herself pregnant as a result of an unstable relationship, healthcare professionals referred her for an abortion. “They told me that women like me come in everyday and there is no shame in being one of them,” Tanya shared, feeling like she was just another number. “They tried to guilt me into an abortion and didn’t give me another option. There is no shame in choosing life. I made the right decision. I love my daughter, and she is alive!”

Isabel Brown, spokesperson for Turning Point USA, recalled the statistic on 41 per cent of Canadians having no firm opinion on abortion during her keynote address at the youth banquet on May 12. Having encountered backlash herself, Brown encouraged the youth attendees to be bold in sharing the pro-life position. She said, the 41 per cent Canadians who are neither pro-life nor completely pro-abortion, may be persuaded to change their opinion to become solidly pro-life if they truly understood the horrific practices of the various abortion procedures. Alyssa, a youth banquet attendee, told The Interim, she was inspired by Brown’s courage and reported feeling empowered to share the pro-life position when she returned to school.

Attendees of the youth summit were richly prepared with facts and statistics to strengthen their knowledge and ability to present the pro-life position. Jean, present at the summit, told The Interim, she got into the pro-life movement due to her Christian faith and desire to defend it. She joined a training program by the Canadian Center for Bioethical Reform and has stood up for life at the Canadian and U.S. National Marches for Life. Daniel, another attendee, accepted the pro-life position having grown up as a Catholic, but remained timid and kept this position to himself. “I feel like this conference made being pro-life make sense to me,” Daniel told The Interim, “I don’t think I can be silent about this anymore. I can’t believe the things that women go through with things like abortion pills. And I’m tired of the lie that men have no say in abortion. That’s a life, and I need to defend it.”

Canadian youth gathered for these events and departed with hopefulness, particularly after the overturning of Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs decision in the U.S. in June 2022. As the tide turns for youth South of the border, the waves crash onto Canadian youth to spark a deeper examination and position on the issue of abortion. Many speakers and attendees of the events during March for Life week saw this as the beginning of a culture change to influence Canada’s position on abortion from the bottom-up; perhaps with enough education and discussion, Canada can be completely pro-life from the top-down within our lifetimes.