By Angelica Vecchiato:

A cohort of young Canadians attended the American March for Life on Jan. 20, marking the first annual pro-life rally since the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022.

The pro-life delegation of 37 youth, led by Campaign Life Coalition Youth (CLCY) coordinators Maeve Roche and Kim Headley, set off by bus on the evening of Jan. 19 to join thousands of Americans marching in solidarity for the unborn. The trip was underwritten by CLC donors. They were joined by the Oblate Youth, a Catholic youth group based in the Mississauga parish St. Maximilian Kolbe.

Roche, a pro-life activist, stressed the importance of also supporting the March for Life in our country north of the 49th parallel. “We need to encourage our pro-life brothers and sisters across the border in their fight to end abortion and enact full legal protection for all human beings,” she told The Interim. “It’s essential to establish a sense of international unity with pro-life organisations across the globe,” as “this fellowship beyond borders is integral to develop comradery and to show that the pro-life movement knows no boundaries.”

CLC hopes that the Canadian youth attending the American March for Life were invigorated in their commitment to the unborn. “The U.S has been quite successful recently in passing a plethora of pro-life laws, (and) these political successes could instil hope in the young people that we bring to the March,” said Roche, a former CLC intern in 2020 and 2021. “Hopefully, these young people can bring their march-for-life-established fervour back to their communities here in Canada.”

After the Friday march, the Canadian delegation attended the pro-life youth summit on Saturday, Jan. 21 at the Omni Shoreham hotel in downtown D.C. The conference was sponsored by household pro-life names like Live Action, Catholic Answers, and Human Life International. Heritage Foundation and Christian organisations like Alliance Defending Freedom hosted the event.

The summit also boasted exhibitions from leading pro-life voices in the States such as the Sisters of Life, the Young America Foundation, and 40 Days for Life. These groups set up booths offering more in-depth information on how to get involved in the movement. 

Leading pro-life activists like And Then There Were None founder Abby Johnson and Students for Life of America founder Kristen Hawkins addressed the summit’s morning session, delivering motivating talks to the hundreds of life-loving youth in attendance. 

In her talk, Johnson– who received a standing ovation– emphasised the spirituality component of pro-life activism, insisting that the movement cannot “win an argument and lose a soul.” 

The summit was interspersed with breakout sessions that offered a breadth of pro-life takes on topics as varied as debating well, developing a career, dating, and taking political action. Notably, a few talks emphasised the dangers of the increasingly popular chemical abortion pill, exposing its effects on the environment and health. Doctor Christina Francis from the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynaecologists and other medical professionals also highlighted the promising and positive outcomes of the abortion reversal pill. 

University of Toronto Students for Life outreach coordinator Meghan Dahl said that attending the American March for Life and hearing from the various speakers increased her “sense of urgency” for the Canadian pro-life movement. “With a fairly small number of pro-life people in my community back home, the sheer size of this year’s March for Life proved that this moment is growing and that we are not alone,” said Dahl, a second-year criminology student. 

The March for Life weekend highlighted establishing fellowship with pro-life youth from different parts of the continent; hearing from pro-life influencers; and, symbolically standing outside the Canadian embassy. Roche was hopeful that “this trip has served as a catalyst for pro-life activism in Canada … and more young people will be inspired to attend our own National March for Life and pro-life youth summit in Ottawa on May 11th and 12th 2023.”