- Unborn victims of violence issue comes to forefront
After Aysun Sesen, a pregnant 25-year-old Toronto woman, was killed in October, the media focused on the the issue of unborn victims of violence and the absurdity that the unborn child is a legal non-entity in criminal law. Sesen was the fifth high-profile murder in Canada since 2005 that took the life of the mother and (unborn) child. Sesen’s family has demanded the federal government take action to recognize both victims of violent crime, joining the families of Manjit Panghali (of Surrey, B.C.), Liana White and Olivia Talbot (both of Edmonton) in calling for legislation to declare the fetus a victim when his or her mother is murdered or assaulted. Also, in Winnipeg in February, Roxanne Fernando, who was pregnant, was killed by three men. One of the assailants, who was a young offender, said in a plea bargain that he killed Fernando because she wouldn’t have an abortion. The tragic events led to widespread newspaper, television and radio debate over whether Canada should enact unborn victims of violence legislation. An Environics poll found 72 per cent of Canadians, including 75 per cent of women, want such a law passed.
- Amnesty International officially endorses abortion advocacy
For years, international human rights organizations supported specific pro-abortion initiatives, including supporting abortion access for refugees. But in August, despite worldwide opposition from pro-life and religious groups, AI officially endorsed a policy of advocating abortion-on-demand in all countries where it was not currently legal and supporting widespread access where it considered the so-called abortion right insufficiently protected.
- American pro-lifers divided over GOP presidential field
The pro-abortion media seems almost giddy that social conservatives are not united behind a single Republican presidential candidate and have declared the Religious Right’s influence in U.S. politics dead. That is open to debate. It is notable that every top-tier Republican candidate has garnered the support of prominent pro-life leaders, including Rudy Giuliani, the pro-abortion, pro-gay rights former mayor of New York City, who was endorsed by televangelist Pat Robertson. The National Right to Life Committee endorsed actor and former senator Fred Thompson, pro-life senator Sam Brownback backs his colleague, Senator John McCain, and Mitt Romney has the support of Paul Weyrich, a founder of the Moral Majority. Rather than backing one candidate, it seems pro-lifers have gained a foothold in each campaign. Time will tell whether that is a wise move.
- Pro-life students fight back
Students seeking to establish pro-life clubs on university campuses across the country aren’t taking no for an answer. In St. John’s, after Memorial University of Newfoundland Students for Life was refused official club status by the Memorial University of Newfoundland Students Union (MUNSU) in September, the group’s leader, Patrick Hanlon, was acclaimed to a seat on the students union on Nov. 7. Hanlon plans to press the MUNSU to reconsider its decision and give a voice to pro-life students, which he says are not represented by the officially pro-abortion student’s union. In June, Minerva Macapagal took the cause of the Capilano College pro-life club to the British Columbia Human Rights Commission. The group, called Calipano College Heartbeat, was twice denied official club status by the Calipano Student Union in 2006. While other campus pro-life clubs have been denied official recognition in the past, this is the first case of students challenging such decisions in human rights tribunals.
- The National Post’s front-page abortion story
On May 5, the National Postran a cover story on “The A-word,” which was reprinted in most CanWest newspaper. It ran the week before the National March for Life and noted that for such a controversial issue, abortion doesn’t get much media play these days. Reporter Anne Marie Owens asked, “How did abortion, that most contentious of issues, become the one that is simply not discussed publicly?” She (correctly) predicted that the media would ignore the March for Life in Ottawa (which they mostly did), but more important, the article highlighted seldom-reported facts about abortion, including that many doctors want nothing to do with it. The story generated weeks of discussion afterward.
- U.S. Supreme Court upholds partial-birthabortion ban
In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a 2003 law banning partial-birth abortion. Although signed into law by President George W. Bush in the third year of his presidency, lower-level courts prevented its enactment. The majority included Bush appointments to the top court, Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito, who joined justices Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. The decision was a small but significant victory that demonstrated abortion can be constitutionally restricted. Pro-life groups also said it validated political strategies that focused on the necessity of electing presidential candidates who would appoint pro-life judges and senators who would confirm them.
- Trucks display abortion message on Calgary streets
The Canadian Centre for Bio-ethical Reform launched the Reproductive “Choice” Campaign in Calgary, the country’s only mobile pro-life billboard. The CRC campaign featured three-metre-high posters of aborted babies on trucks that drive during the morning commute. CCBR executive director Stephanie Gray said the public is moved to action only when people are exposed to photographic evidence of the injustice being fought. The campaign received widespread media attention, including in the local papers and the National Post. It was also debated on talk radio programs. Celia Posyniak, a local abortuary worker, called the trucks “a rude, crude display.” Gray says she plans to put CRC trucks in all of Canada’s major cities.
Honourable mention:The 10th annual National March for Life in Ottawa was a great event. This pro-life witness in the nation’s capital continues to grow and attract an increasing number of young people.