|(Ed. note: the following is excerpted from an address by Paul Formby to members of the Surrey-Delta (British Columbia) Pro-Life Society. Mr. Formby is one of the founders of Campaign Life Coalition).
In surveying key pro-life fronts – the educational, the political, and the legal – it is difficult not to think at times that abortion and the culture of death are everywhere victorious. In weighing the burden of our cause and surveying our ranks we ask who will carry on this difficult work when all the energies and resources of our pro-life leaders are gone? Are there young people ready to carry on or has the legalized killing of children in the womb become so commonplace and institutionalized that the young view the issue as a lost cause?
The sudden death of Maurice Lewis last fall was not only a great personal loss to many of us, but also it served a devastating blow to the pro-life movement in Canada. We perhaps will never know all of the circumstances of how Maurice died. For many of us the pro-life movement reached its lowest ebb in the months that followed. To make matters worse it seemed that the Court of Appeal in B.C. could not wait to bring both sides to court to announce the dismissal of the appeal thereby forcing us to start over again at the lowest court level with a new case.
If the pro-life torch appears to be dimming, it may be because of our own uncertainty and lack of faith and clarity. We know our fight is against ignorance and the violence of abortion. We know that despite this gloom and general pessimism which comes our way from time to time, the voice of truth and resolve has remained alive in each of us. We know that as long as we breath we must continue this fight and if it is not won in our lifetime, we must pass the torch on to others.
We also know that we are not alone, that God is on our side and that the great battle for the conscience and future of this nation will be won just as smaller battles are won every day, first with ourselves then with others.
Let no one say that the pro-life movement has failed in its work; that it has failed on the educational, the legal, or on the political front. That is simply not true. Every time we influence a person, we win some small march and every time we convince a person. we win an actual battle. And every time we convince a pregnant woman considering abortion, or an abortionist, or a politician, or even a judge we win a major battle.
We know that without the pro-life sacrifices and efforts that have so far been made, the death toll and damage would be much greater. Let me tell you of one little success story. A year ago last March, Maurice Lewis, Sissy von Dehn, and a few others were standing outside the door of the (Vancouver) Everywoman’s abortuary, praying together. Along came a young couple. The woman asked Maurice if he knew where the abortion clinic was. Maurice said, “Come with me,” and he led the couple next door to Gianna House. Once inside they viewed a pro-life video and conversed with Maurice and the others. The man did not intend to marry the young woman. The pregnancy was an accident. She was and still is on a temporary work visa as a nanny. But they both agreed to do the right thing. Six months later on September 3, 1997, their baby, Immanuel, was born. That was the very day that Maurice died.
There are many more success stories, in the educational, in the political, in birth-right work, yes and even on the legal front.
It is because of pro-life people in all areas across the country standing up for life, and spreading pro-life information that the core pro-life values and principles has been instilled in so many hearts and minds. Despite overwhelming odds, the rebuffs, the insults, the politically correct pressures, pro-life advocates have continued knowing that the abortion issue must be kept alive in every forum. If not for their witness, no one would stand up for life; no one would care about the killing of babies in the womb; no one would care about the damage to women, families or to society.
It is because of the nature of the opposition, and the difficulty of the work; it is because of the disproportionate and unbalanced government, media and court reactions to pro-life efforts, that we know in our hearts and minds that abortion is the most crucial issue facing the world today. We know that if the state, the media, the medical community, and the courts, can permit and encourage mothers to kill their own babies on the basis of lifestyle choices, that the leaders of this society now regard human life ultimately as meaningless and expendable and, we know that no one’s life is really secure. The convenience of anyone, even of the state can never be placed over the very life of another.
If we have failed, it is perhaps on the religious front in that we have failed to convince our religious leaders as to their proper role in this fight, and that role is to lead the faithful in prayer; to exercise the divine admonitions against abortion; and also to back with all their strength, sound and uncompromising pro-life educational, political and legal initiatives.
None of our efforts have been perfect and we must be conscious of our errors. But there are those who attribute the apparent drift of our society further into the death culture to be a result of failures of pro-life educational, political and legal efforts. Individuals who regard themselves as “incrementalists,” blame pro-life leaders for steadfastly maintaining pro-life core values and principles despite politically correct pressures to support measures like Bill C-43, the support of which in 1989 and 1990 would have been a disaster for the unborn.
Some in our ranks are even saying that the Joe Borowski court challenge of the 1980s was imprudent and a mistake; that in foisting the abortion issue on the courts, Borowski was responsible for forcing the Supreme Court of Canada into the pro-abortion camp. Are we, however, to make any headway by being quiet on the issue and not raising the “A” word because the public, the politicians, and the courts do not want to hear it?
Self-styled incrementalists have not given proper recognition to pro-life advances in the public arena. The pro-life message has over the years crystallized into two basic messages based on two undeniable truths – “Abortion kills children” and, “Abortion hurts women.” These facts are now admitted even by the most militant pro-abortion advocates.
For years the pro-life movement battled the denial of the humanity of the unborn by the abortionists and the feminists. Through persistence the truth finally won out in all forums. It was not long in following that the abortionists were forced to admit that precisely because every abortion involved the deliberate killing of a human being, that serious emotional, spiritual, and psychological consequences to the women often followed the abortion. Now abortionists say it is still a woman’s right to take the life of her child. Consequently, the courts are forced ever more so to take refuge in legal fictions maintaining that the humanity issue is irrelevant.
Let not anyone suggest that the pro-life movement is not now further ahead in fighting abortion or that by asserting these truths in the public arena, it has in effect made the killing of human beings more acceptable. The fact is that the abortion advocates are now out on thin ice and that ice is beginning to crack. Abortion advocates simply can no longer take refuge in such denial. Their moral and legal justification for the killing is reduced to the weak proposition of the supremacy of the mother’s own lifestyle choices over the life of her child.
Many women who have had abortions are now admitting the harm to themselves and to others in their families. Some are beginning to see that abortion is the ultimate form of exploitation of women.
Because of persistent pro-life efforts, the abortion industry now protests the shortage of physicians willing to do the killings. Physicians know it is a dirty business and that it has nothing to do with the practice of medicine. Many abortionists have given up the practice and a good number have become pro-life advocates.
Now, to put things in perspective, all of these above-mentioned incremental advances made by the pro-life movement have been made by the lawful exercise of freedom of conscience and freedom of speech. The opposition knows only too well the effectiveness of these freedoms as exercised by pro-life people in the various public and private forums. They know that it is only a matter of time before they are out of business.
The population and reproduction control moguls, despite their control of the media, the government, and the courts, have not been able to suppress the truth about abortion, and they know the only way to protect the right to kill is to suppress the basic constitutional and democratic freedoms that expose evil and injury.
It is precisely because of these pro-life successes that we have had the suppression of freedom of speech has become a paramount objective of the government and the courts. All the money, all the brains, all the “right” lawyers, all the resources of a large firm, all the connections will not do away with the bubble-zone legislation. The courts must be compelled to honestly examine all of the circumstances of the protest and sidewalk counselling activity under review. There can be no incrementalist approach governed by so-called “attainable ends” on this matter.