Josie Leutke:

Interim writer, Josie Luetke, Talk Turkey

The end of January brought a disorienting amount of good news for the pro-life and pro-family movement.

The expansion of euthanasia to those suffering solely from mental illness would be pushed back until at least 2027.

Clinic 554, the private abortion facility in Fredericton, New Brunswick, finally closed its doors.

Alberta’s Premier Danielle Smith announced a number of policies intended to prevent, or at least delay, the physical transition of gender-confused minors; recognizing parental rights in this domain and in sex education; and preserving female-only sports leagues. 

It was a great week for us—a great week for Canada.

Is this what progress tastes like?

Well, it depends. How low is your bar?

A decade ago, in 2014, euthanasia wasn’t even legal in Canada.

Clinic 554 hadn’t opened yet; its predecessor, the Morgentaler Clinic, had announced its closure. Peter Ryan, executive director of the New Brunswick Right to Life Association, had expressed his fear that the announcement was simply a “stunt” to loosen provincial restrictions on abortion and secure more funding. He expressed his “hope and prayer” that New Brunswick Right to Life would “outlast” the abortion mill … and it did, only to see Clinic 554 move into the same building and begin operating a year later.

Kids were certainly transitioning back then, but the social contagion of gender ideology hadn’t quite exploded yet.

Contrasted with the previous decade, it’s difficult to argue our country is in a better place now. In many (but not all) ways, we are worse off.

I think your average pro-lifer—or really, anyone who hasn’t yet lost their mind—senses this decline, but denialism runs strong in leaders tasked with rallying the troops.

Pro-life political organization RightNow proudly proclaimed last year that “what we’re doing is working,” because the past few pro-life bills have been getting increasing support from Members of Parliament.

76 MPs voted in favour of Bill C-225, Cassie & Molly’s Law, in 2016. 82 voted for Bill C-233, in 2021, which would have banned sex-selective abortion. 113 voted for Bill C-311, the Violence Against Pregnant Women Act, in 2023.

What RightNow failed to contextualize was that there were notably more Conservative MPs in the 43rd and 44th Parliaments compared to the 42nd Parliament, and currently, the Conservative Party is the only one producing any pro-life votes.

While the pro-life movement deserves some credit for the election of some of these MPs, generally speaking, the composition of Parliament is controlled by political winds stronger than ones we wield.

Furthermore, though RightNow claimed Bill C-311 was “relatively the same bill” as Bill C-225, it was actually substantially weaker. Bill C-225 contained multiple references to the “preborn child” and would have created a separate offense for the injuring or killing of this child in the commission of an offense against his or her mother. It would have provided some meager legal recognition of the preborn, who otherwise go unrecognized in law—not considered “human beings” in our Criminal Code until birth. Bill C-311, however, contained no such references to the preborn, and would only add pregnancy as an aggravating factor in sentencing.

The bill, benign as it was, didn’t even pass.

Indeed, as political and cultural commentator J.J. McCullough observed on X (formerly Twitter), all three bills failed, which “says a lot about abortion politics in Canada.”

Recently, I was talking to a man about former MP Stephen Woodworth’s 2012 Motion 312, which proposed the creation of a committee to examine the aforementioned definition of “human being” in our Criminal Code. You might be surprised by some of the politicians who supported it—Rona Ambrose, Patrick Brown, Michael Chong, Brian Jean, Jason Kenney, and Pierre Poilievre. The man pointed out that was 2012. Much has changed since then.

I’m sincerely not trying to rain on our parade here—as pro-lifers we already have far too much rain. It’s almost as if we know no other weather. Looking like drowned rats, we may easily become discouraged, and in response to this problem, too many pro-lifers overcorrect by overselling or inventing success. 

They’ll look you in the eyes, as you drip onto the carpet, and try to convince you it’s sunny, because they need to feel effective.

We shouldn’t have to lie to ourselves, because the truth is actually a lot more beautiful and profound (but I’ll get to that). We need to re-establish a sense of objectivity. If we are going to make genuine progress, we have to be honest about where we’re starting from, of the odds we’re up against.

The popular opinion is overwhelmingly “pro-choice.” Political willpower to do anything about abortion is next to nil.

You can kill your (preborn) kid; you can kill yourself (or rather, be killed, if you have “a grievous and irremediable medical condition”); and/or you can chop off your genitalia and force people to put “she/her” in their email signatures.

And if we acknowledge this, we can also acknowledge, that despite all that, we have been successful.

Because in a world gone mad, every re-emergence of reason—brief though it may be—is a triumph, a breath of fresh air for those who are drowning.

Even if doctors eventually end up killing those suffering solely from mental illness, they’re not being killed today. Even if it reopens again, Clinic 554 is not killing the preborn today. (Alberta is medically experimenting on kids and sabotaging their sexuality today, but they may do less of that in the future…)

Every time a pro-life motion or bill is introduced, we keep the conversation alive.

We may not be better off than we were a decade ago, but how much worse off might we be without the pro-life and pro-family movement? If these evils entered our nation to no resistance at all?

Canada is descending into Hell, but we’re slowing that descent, and every so often, even pushing the forces of evil back a step or two. We are keeping the faith, stepping into the breach, and saving lives and souls in the interim, as we await the return of the ultimate victor.

These “wins” aren’t clean and neatly packaged. They’re largely invisible—one grassroots activist’s reluctant decision to spend another hour praying outside an abortion facility in Fredericton, which, unbeknownst to her, is on its last legs.

A few months ago, my colleague Ruth Robert, the Atlantic Region Coordinator for Campaign Life Coalition, said that Planned Parenthood Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Health Centre had posted on social media that it was “under attack” due to “a small group of anti-choice extremists.”

Because of Covid-19, the private abortion facility in St. John’s —the Athena Health Centre—now receives a guaranteed $1 million from the provincial government every year. A 50-metre bubble zone has cushioned it from differing opinion since 2016. Ruth is constantly frustrated by the lack of volunteers for their local 40 Days for Life campaign and March for Life. And yet, abortion activists feel threatened anyway.

It’s likely because they expected the mostly elderly pro-life movement on the island to simply fizzle out. There’s nothing more terrifying than a drowned rat that hasn’t really and properly drowned.

Or, as I told Ruth, we must be the cockroach that refuses to die: no matter how many times it gets nuked, it slithers out from underneath the floorboards and through every nook and cranny that you thought you sealed off.

We are the pests that won’t die.

So, let’s celebrate January’s announcements, even if they come with caveats and asterisks, in a country competing to fall quicker than Rome. Let these victories give us oxygen for tomorrow.

May we live to fight another rainy day.