To mark 35 years since the beginning of Campaign Life, we are providing a to-do list for pro-lifers on how to become actively involved in the pro-life movement. We understand many readers are already active, but some are not, or could do more. It is not enough to be informed about life and family issues. We must change both the culture and the political environment; indeed, this is the same project. Pro-lifers must both change hearts and minds among our fellow Canadians and convince our elected representatives to enact meaningful protections for the unborn. It is hard work. It requires sacrifice. It needs us to be public about our pro-life beliefs. But the prize – legal protection for all human beings from the time of conception (fertilization) – demands it. This list, of course, is not only for you; when you do anything pro-life invite a friend or family member to join you. Remember, there is strength in numbers.
35 Ways to Become Actively Pro-life
Become well versed in pro-life apologetics
to defend the pro-life position
Write letters to politicians
Sign pro-life petitions
Take part in 40 Days for Life each time it is in your community; if there isn’t one, organize it
Volunteer at a crisis pregnancy centre
or with your local pro-life group
Write letters to the editor/online comments
when pro-life issues come up in the media
Call into radio talk shows when life issues arise
Put pro-life stickers on your car, laptop, and notepads
Wear the pro-life message on
t-shirt, wrist-band, or jewelry
Support post-abortion healing groups like Rachel’s Vineyard and the Silent No More Awareness Campaign; gently encourage women who have abortions to contact these groups
“Show the Truth” to show what abortion is
“Choice Chain” to show what the
euphemism of abortion is
Encourage your pastor to preach more about life issues
Congratulate your pastor when he preaches about life issues
Attend the National March for Life (or provincial march for life)
Attend national, provincial, and local pro-life conferences, symposia, and meetings
Start a pro-life committee at your place of worship
Boycott products of companies that support abortion – and
write a letter to let them know why
Thank media personalities for supporting pro-life
Hold a fundraiser for the local crisis pregnancy center
Donate to pro-life groups and take part in their fundraisers such as Coins for Life,
Pennies for Life, and Christmas cake sales
Read pro-life media such as The Interim and LifeSiteNews
Buy a gift subscription of The Interim for your pastor, a school, or pro-life friend
Get social: read pro-life blogs and share pro-life stories on Twitter and Facebook
Attend a Defund Abortion Rally
Hand out pro-life postcards and pamphlets door-to-door for groups like CLC Youth
and Canadian Center for Bioethical Reform
Order literature from pro-life groups or Life Cycle books and distribute them to friends, family, and co-workers
Get involved in nomination meetings to get pro-lifers on the ballot
Vote pro-life during elections and let the candidates know you do
Attend a LifeChain – and bring a friend
During the first Sunday afternoon of every October, individuals, families and parish groups line sidewalks in communities across the country for LifeChain. The hour-long silent prayer campaign involves all of these people standing at designated intersections where auto traffic will see the pro-life witness. Participants hold signs with messages such as “Abortion Kills Children,” “Abortion Hurts Women,” “Adoption – the Loving Option,” “Life – the first Inalienable Right,” and “Lord Forgive & Heal our Nation.” Suresh Dominic, the spokesperson for LifeChain in Canada, said LifeChain is “a prayerful, peaceful event which helps our cause, creates awareness and educates the public on this issue.” Silent witness and prayer are a necessary element of pro-life work, Dominic explains, because “ultimately, it is God who changes hearts. We are called to be instruments of God.”
Please Let Me Live, the organization that started LifeChain in the United States, has called the display “a serious first step” to further pro-life activism. Its openness and simplicity make LifeChain an ideal fit for “everyone who is genuinely concerned about the cause of life – regardless of political views, age, religion or cultural background,” said Dominic. The campaign is advertised through churches and other religious organizations, by pro-life groups, and the pro-life media. This year’s LifeChain will take place on Sunday, Oct. 6 from 2-3 p.m (local time) in most locations. For more information, check the advertisement that will appear in the September Interim.
– Taylor Hyatt
Adopt an MP
The “Adopt an MP” campaign is a strategy that Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition, proposed more than 20 years ago to encourage constituent involvement. The root idea came to him, Hughes told The Interim, after he had seen an “Adopt a Highway” sign and started first with clergymen, then MPs. The purpose is to take your local MP under your wing to nurture their viewpoints on life issues and encourage them to vote pro-life.
Mary Ellen Douglas, CLC national coordinator, told The Interim, “everything starts with prayer.” She said pro-lifers should pray for MPs while the House of Commons is in session and especially when pro-life issues arise in Parliament. As a constituent, it is important to make your voice heard if your MP does something positive or amiss. If their actions favoured the pro-life perspective, send them a note congratulating them. Explain to an MP if they do something wrong (voting against a pro-life bill/motion) and also disclose your reasoning. This close contact with an MP will grow into a one-to-one relationship, which can make future discussions more fruitful.
A big step is visiting the MP in his or her constituency office because those interactions will be most remembered and will have the biggest influence. When visiting, go in pairs because with one person speaking, the other is recording or noting what is said.
Then, members of parliament ought to have fundamental education on life issues and it is the obligation of pro-lifers to cultivate pro-life values, said Douglas. This can be done by updating the MP with news about life and family issues. If there is a bill or motion being proposed, explain its significance and why they should vote in defense of pro-life. If there is no recent news or events, the best form of communication would be persuasive and rational discussion about how unborn children in Canada are victimized. Douglas said, “start from square one to know where they stand. Ask them: ‘Do you know that life begins at conception’?” And never give up on members of parliament no matter what their stance on life issues may be. If they slam the door in your face or wave you away, adopt them anyway.
– Renata Iskander
Encourage students to find and take part in pro-life essay and art contests
Locating funding for university is a source of stress for many senior high school students and their families. Along with Niagara Region Right to Life, The Interim co-sponsors a way to ease that anxiety while learning how to research and defend the sanctity of life. The Father Ted Colleton scholarship contest was designed in 2000 to promote interest in the pro-life cause among high school students. It takes its name from the Irish priest and long-time Interim columnist who loved serving youth and advocating for the unborn. Any Grade 11 or 12 student in the world is eligible. The majority are Canadian and from Catholic schools. However, the contest, like the views it promotes, transcends faith boundaries. There have been Hindu and Muslim applicants in the past. The award is important, said scholarship committee chair Dan Di Rocco, because it draws students to the pro-life cause by engaging them at the upper high school level by giving them an opportunity to research, explore ideas, and write them in an essay format. A new essay topic is chosen every year by The Interim business board, and scholarship funds are donated by Niagara Region Right to Life.
Much effort goes into promoting the Father Ted Colleton scholarship. Applications are mailed to churches, schools and school board offices. Interested teachers, guidance counsellors and chaplains are e-mailed. The Interim advertises it and announcements are made through LifeSiteNews and the annual March for Life youth conferences. Yet the most important way to spread the word about the scholarship, Di Rocco explained, is by word-of-mouth. “The best referrals are from people who have previously participated. They now recommend it as way (for other young people they know) to understand life issues that people do not give thought to.”
About 50 people apply each year, although one year there were 97. Many participants have gone on to become pro-life student leaders, volunteers, and Campaign Life Coalition summer students. Di Rocco hopes that the contest inspires future participants to become active and real catalysts in their own communities. “It is well known that elected officials like to listen to young people in particular, so there is a huge opportunity for them to impress their pro-life views on MPs and other influential figures,” explains Di Rocco. Teachers and homeschooling parents are encouraged to contact Dan Di Rocco (firstname.lastname@example.org) to obtain more information, and to urge Grade 11 and 12 high school students to take up the challenge of entering the scholarship contest. Di Rocco also suggests parents and grandparents bring the essay contest to the attention of their children and grandchildren who qualify for the essay contest.
– Taylor Hyatt
Take part in the local Walk for Life
The Kitchener-Waterloo & Area Right to Life Association celebrated its 40th anniversary last year. Like many Right to Life groups, one of its main activities is the Walk for Life. The annual Walk for Life, KWRTL’s largest fundraiser and one of its most prominent projects, has been around for 34 years. Jane Richard, the president of KWRTL, told The Interim that it was one of the first walks in the region. She is pleased with the nearly 1000 contributors and $14,000 raised, though that number has dropped significantly from what it was in the late 1980s when Canada’s abortion law was struck down. If 2012 is any indication, these funds will go a long way towards helping the group fulfil its mandate to educate the community. Over 100 events and presentations were delivered that year, many related to MP Stephen Woodworth’s Motion 312. “If (people) believe in the pro-life message and want to support it in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, they should be involved with our walk,” explained Richard.
The Walk for Life also serves as an opportunity to spread the pro-life message, make area residents aware of the group’s work, and invite new donors and volunteers to support them. “We count on the funds raised through our walk to stay in operation,” said Richard. “Many smaller local groups do something similar, and support larger organizations this way.” Some of KWRTL’s beneficiaries include 40 Days for Life, other prayer vigils and the local coordinators of the “Choice” Chain project begun by the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.
The walk draws participants of all ages including families, pregnant women, and more. Some senior citizens even come out for the 6 km trek. Young children often lead the crowd and hold the KWRTL banner. Besides attending the walk itself, volunteers are also needed to collect pledges, which can be submitted to the office in person or by mail.
Check to see if your local pro-life group has a Walk for Life. By collect pledges and walking, you support their other endeavours.
– Taylor Hyatt
Encourage children to think about pro-life
Promoting the pro-life message in elementary and high schools is not an easy thing to do, particularly among the youngest students. How can we ensure that children are exposed to these ideas without introducing them to distressing aspects of the abortion debate they may not be able to handle? Stratford Right to Life has a solution: an annual art contest. It is open to any and all school-aged children, in one of four divisions: primary (kindergarten to Grade 3), junior (grades 4-6), intermediate (grades 7-8) or high school (grades 9-12). The aim of the contest is to design posters relating to a given theme that is chosen by the right-to-life office every year, such as “Before I Was Born.”
Janet Albert, recording secretary for Stratford Right to Life and art contest chairperson, calls the annual event a wonderful way to make “students aware of right-to-life issues and their importance.” Albert told The Interim that youth who are not inclined to sports are especially drawn to the competition because “it gives them something (different) to be proud of.”
Every January, Stratford Right to Life contacts schools with the year’s theme and information about the contest. SRTL works with their local school board in order for the event to be incorporated into the art curriculum. Entire classes can submit groups of posters, or individuals can enter their own. The posters must fall within given size limits, and the participant’s contact information must be written on the back of their entry. Winners receive cash prizes, as well as the honour of having their design featured at Stratford Right to Life’s annual dinner. The posters may also be used in advertising or other materials promoting the organization.
Initiatives like the poster contest are “part of good PR” for the pro-life movement, said Albert. The pro-life message is given to young people, as well as those they interact with in their schools and homes. “Adult ideas (about spreading the pro-life message) are very different from the ones youth have,” said Albert. The competition is a way for “more people know what we’re about and why” the group is active. “If they don’t know about us, they can’t help.”
– Taylor Hyatt