It’s been 17 years since The Interim printed my first article, a jubilant story of our success in closing down access to abortion in Prince Edward Island. Many other stories followed.
It has been a great pleasure to work with some of The Interim’s editors – Sabina McLuhan, Mike Mastromatteo, David Curtin, Paul Tuns – all striving to carry out the biblical injunction to proclaim the truth from the housetops.
The Interim is produced in spartan offices not far from Toronto’s Eaton Centre. It has grown from a tiny closet to a considerably larger area at the end of a steep flight of stairs. Once, when I arrived for a visit, I was surprised to find volunteers, staff and visitors gathering for prayer. It’s a scheduled part of every work day. Sometimes, the Interim and Campaign Life Coalition office spaces seem like an upstairs version of the early Christian catacombs – perfect for inclusion in Kurelek’s series of Northern Nativity paintings.
It’s been said that where evil abounds, God raises up good people to counter it. In this respect, the pro-life movement has been greatly blessed. I’ve learned so much from the people whose names have appeared in the pages of The Interim. I’ve interviewed and written about some, admired the work and the writings of many more, and prayed for all of them.
By and large, it was grassroots people – not the intelligentsia – who founded and nurtured the pro-life movement. Ordinary people learned about meetings, by-laws, and constitutions. They began to study and challenge, to picket and march, to use the media and meet with government officials. They wrote briefs and letters and books, attended and spoke at lectures, workshops, conventions. They spoke out, ran for election, risked friendships, income and careers, opted for sacrificial living and giving, and sometimes experienced persecution.
In the beginning, there was a great sense of urgency, as people all across the country united to oppose legalized abortion. In my province, people of all faiths broke tradition by beginning to pray and study and struggle together.
Like those going off to World War I, we may have thought it “would all be over by Christmas.” But it wasn’t. Instead, the battlefield keeps expanding: from abortion to many forms of technological reproduction to euthanasia to attacks on marriage and the family.
In the beginning, we could scarcely have imagined the degree to which all these issues would become part of our lives and discourse. That we would see in our own country the imposition of illogical laws and court decisions and unjust imprisonments was unthinkable. That so many would be indifferent, was inconceivable.
Informed by The Interim and similar publications, and blessed with strong leaders, pro-lifers have become more skillful, effective, and resourceful. On one occasion, Fr. Paul Marx of Human Life International presented to the press several survivors of abortion attempts. As children and adults from around the world, most were permanently maimed from their experience, but they were gifted and charming. The interviews they gave forced the reporters to acknowledge that babies being aborted are more than “blobs of tissue”.
Over the years, support organizations like Birthright and Aid to Women have formed. Pro-life newsletters have become websites. Activists have become involved at the international level. And overall, there has been a growing awareness that this is primarily a spiritual battle.
Sometimes, our nation seems to be covered by a thickening pall. But no matter what new challenges arise, hundreds and hundreds of dedicated pro-life men and women from coast to coast continue their labours. Some are mentioned in Interim articles. Countless other unnamed co-workers and supporters labour in the background. Every effort is like a glowing candle. Together, they form a work of great beauty, that illuminates this black night of our country’s soul.
Many valiant pro-life pioneers have died over the past 20 years. I sometimes picture them as bright stars, some big, some little, still with their own part to play in dispelling the darkness of our times.
Getting to know pro-life people across Canada has enriched and strengthened my life. Their example, encouragement and prayer was an invaluable support when I was a pro-life hospital board director working to end abortions in our province, and in many other skirmishes. Today, I’m so glad I can look back and say, “I was there when ”