More than two dozen women walked from Montreal to Ottawa in time for the National March for Life to raise awareness about the state of abortion in Canada. The 25 women, who are a part of Back to Life Canada, a campaign organized by Faytene Grasseschi, represent the 25 years since the 1988 Morgentaler decision. The 200 kilometer trek took place from April 28 to May 9, from the Morgentaler Abortion Clinic in Montreal to the Supreme Court in Ottawa.
Besides drawing attention to the lack of an abortion law in Canada, the walkers emphasized the emotional and physical harms of abortion, as well as the pressure that is put on women to abort. This was brought to light by the personal experiences of the walkers, each of whom had her own reasons to participate in the journey.
Victoria Kuek, one of the walkers and a mother of two children, told The Interim that the experience was “intense” both physically and emotionally. When she was pregnant with her first daughter, Kuek was pressured to have an abortion by her family which was employed in the medical field. Even at seven months pregnant, she received a phone call offering to arrange an abortion. At that time, Kuek did not even realize it was legal to have the procedure that late in Canada.
She decided to apply to take part in the walk because of this experience and also because she estimates that 95 per cent of her friends had abortions. She described herself as “passionate” about the issue and eager to bring more awareness and give the facts about abortion.
Walking 20 kilometers a day, the walkers not only encountered physical challenges, but confronted their pasts and received healing. One of these women was Ashley, who was pregnant with a baby but was pressured by her boyfriend into having an abortion. At the last moment, however, the boyfriend tried to stop the abortion because he realized she was only doing it for him. He was prevented from doing so by clinic staff.
Jennifer, another participant, had her cervix destroyed as a result of one of her abortions.
Kuek said she has “24 sisters” as a result of the walk. As well, she said that it was not so much about gaining something as “what we were able to give” – the message showing a different side of the pro-life movement emphasizing love and the harm that abortion causes women.
She believes that “because we came from that heart of love,” people were open to their message. She even received help in financing her walk from friends who had abortions. There were a lot of honks of support while they were walking and many people inquired about the group’s cause. One waiter who said he supported abortion in cases of rape was given a new perspective by the walkers, one of whom was a product of rape and another who was raped and came under pressure to abort her child. The walkers also met one woman who said she felt shame and guilt from having two abortions, but felt love through them.
The Back to Life movement had a press conference which was covered by some national media outlets where some of the walkers shared their stories. They were interviewed by the CBC and are currently in contact with some pro-life MPs. The group is working to put up videos about each walker, and trying to spread its message to schools to show the effects of abortion.
“Canadians want to have the conversation and many people are affected by abortion,” said Kuek. The 25 women estimate that they each represent thousands of women with similar experiences.