Tony Gosgnach
The Interim

The conspiracy of silence regarding abortion’s harmful effects on women is gradually beginning to dissipate, as more and more women come forward to provide often-harrowing accounts of their lives both during and after their abortion experiences. This development may prove eventually to be the ultimate unravelling of the abortion machine.

So said the co-founder of the U.S. Silent No More Awareness Campaign during a keynote address to a sellout crowd at the second Annual General Meeting and Gala Dinner of the Right to Life Association of Toronto and Area on Oct. 14. Two hundred and sixty people filled Toronto’s Spirale Banquet Centre that evening to hear speeches by Georgette Forney and Father Raymond de Souza, a columnist with the National Post newspaper.

In a sometimes-teary address, Forney told of how she helped start Silent No More out of an abortion she herself underwent in her younger years. It was a trauma she kept suppressed for almost two decades, before a 12-week abortion recovery course prompted her to come to grips with what had really taken place.

“I made a conscious decision to forget that day ever happened,” she recalled. “I lived contentedly in denial for 19 years … I never allowed myself to think of what I had aborted.”

The change caused her to realize that, lost in the endless debates and rancour of the abortion wars, the one voice missing was that of post-abortive women themselves. “Everyone needs to understand what abortion does to women,” said Forney. “We have to educate people.”

Forney recounted the troubling stories of some women, extending to self-injury and, in one case, verging on self-amputation. That woman was about to cut off her foot as a result of the painful memory of her feet being suspended in stirrups at the abortuary.
The many post-abortive women who are suffering right now need to know that hope and healing is available to them, said Forney. Although many initially may think their abortion was “a good thing,” at some point, a “trigger” event will occur that will cause them to deal with the truth.

“The campaign will bring out more and more women,” said Forney. “The truth must be told … Join us in standing up and speaking out. Break the silence.”

She added it is vital pro-lifers ask the questions of why women have abortions and what are their mindsets as they undergo them. In many cases, women shut down emotionally because they can’t cope with the trauma. Forney called on pro-lifers to pour more resources into crisis pregnancy centres.

Locally, the executive director of the Right to Life Association of Toronto and Area, Natalie Hudson, said she’d love to see 40 billboards go up throughout the Greater Toronto Area advertising the Silent No More Awareness Campaign and providing a 1-800 number for women to call. To that end, her organization has started a media fund to help defray the $90,000-a-year cost for the billboards. She hopes 300 people will step forward with $300 each to make it a reality.

During her address, Hudson outlined a lengthy list of activities and accomplishments the Toronto right to life organization had been involved with in the past year, revolving around its mandate to educate the public on life-related issues. They included endeavours in the fields of public speaking, conferences, publications, media appearances, public outreach, fundraising, as well as the provision of materials.

Hudson also had the pleasure of handing out four annual awards to worthy recipients. Denise Sacher received the Laura McArthur Award for outstanding pro-life leadership by a young person. Rev. Tristan Emmanuel was awarded the Gwen Landolt Award for outstanding pro-life leadership in general. The June Scandiffio Award for outstanding pro-life leadership in the media went to Fr. Raymond de Souza and the Dorothy Sullivan Award for outstanding pro-life volunteer work went to Alfred Zawadzki.

Prior to Forney’s speech, Fr. de Souza, who also serves as chaplain of the Newman Centre at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., told the crowd what it’s like functioning as a Catholic priest writing a regular column for a secular newspaper in what he called “for the most part, a blissfully indifferent nation.”

De Souza noted the impossibility of acting on one’s own as a columnist in trying to be “an expert on everything.” But, he added, he is assisted in the task by the Christian church, which he characterized as “an expert in humanity.”

“The church knows man in his true depth (and is) a quintessential expert on everything,” he said. “What I attempt to do … is bring something of that expertise in humanity to the broader culture … I try to see things in their lasting eternal realities … I try to lift the reader’s eye … above the stream of print to a more distant horizon – the one, eternal Word.”

He concluded by observing that modern-day culture lacks respect for human life because “it has lost the sense of what it means to be human.” To be fully human, he said, “requires a right to be human in the first place, beginning with the right to life.”