Ed Newell is the newly-elected president of Alliance for Life. He traveled to Toronto for the All-Ontario Justice for the Unborn rally in September. In addition to attending the rally, he took time out for an interview in The Interim’s offices.
Alliance for Life is the umbrella group for the educational pro-life movement in Canada, with a membership of about 255 groups from coast to coast. Alliance publishes a newsmagazine, Pro-Life News, and has a large library of articles, pamphlets, posters and research material available to members to help them in their educational efforts. It operated its own printing press in Winnipeg and is able to offer educational material at a very reasonable cost.
Mr. Newell, a native of Truro, Nova Scotia, has been active in the pro-life movement for many years. His involvement began when, as programme director for the local Knights of Columbus, he arranged a pro-life booth at the Truro fair. From there, he moved on to become state pro-life director for the Knights, a position he has held for the past seven years. Along the way, he helped to found the Colchester Right to Life Association and the provincial co-ordinating group, Council for Life Nova Scotia. He became active in Alliance when he was elected to the board as Nova Scotian representative. Prior to his election as president this past July, Mr. Newell served a two-year term as vice-president.
What, we asked the new president of Alliance for Life, should be the major focus of the pro-life educational movement at the moment? People must be told exactly what abortion is, Mr. Newell said. “We have to keep promoting the ideal of respect for all human life from conception to natural death, so that children born with problems are not relegated to the pan where they’re allowed to die. Where children who develop problems as they grow are not put into institutions and seen as worthless objects. I understand there are discussion right now in California over what to do with old people, who may be senile and not functioning all that well, who need an operation. The sort of mentality where people are valued only for what they can produce is creeping into our society more and more. There is concern over the high cost of medical services and facilities and the pressure is on to let these old people die. “Do not resuscitate” is the terminology.”
Part of the problem, Mr. Newell suggests, is that the reproduction rate is not keeping up with what is required to keep our older population in a healthy balance. “Part of the problem has to do with the number of abortions done,” he said, “but an even larger part of the problem is the mentality that is anti-life, anti-children. The mentality that sees children as a nuisance, I’m going to look after myself and I can’t be bothered with the inconvenience of children. I think we have to have a positive approach to life. Society is created by God who preserves life and not a God of killing life.”
Abortion done for eugenic reasons is another area that concerns Mr. Newell. He points out that the tests are not totally accurate. “Forget for the moment, the morality of aborting a child because he’s less than perfect,” he says; “the tests are not thoroughly conclusive. You may choose to have an abortion because the tests show a problem; however, the child could be 100 per cent normal.” Mr. Newell knows personally of one mother who had amniocentesis because she was an older woman and wanted a “perfect child.” The tests showed that there were no problems with the baby and yet the child was born with a multitude of physical problems.
Both arms of the pro-life movement, educational and political, are vitally important in Mr. Newell’s view. “We need the educational arm to make people aware of the issues and what’s involved. The political action groups are also very essential in order to work at expediting political change, and changes in the law, to tighten the loopholes instead of allowing this killing to go on.
Mr. Newell supports peaceful picketing and discussed the Toronto situation. “You have a clinic which is operating outside the law. Picketing makes people aware that we have an illegal activity taking place and yet our government allows it to go on. The freedom of concerned individuals to express their concerns through peaceful picketing has a definite place in our society, just as if there were other illegal activities going on that people were concerned about, and they decided to picket the facility. In many cases, this is the only way to draw attention to what is going on.”
As president of Alliance for Life, Mr. Newell was pleased to make the trip to Toronto. He was especially happy to have been invited to be on the podium at the Justice for the Unborn rally. “Many of the organizations that came to Toronto that afternoon are affiliates of Alliance for Life and I was most pleased to have that privilege,” he said.
He was also happy to have had an opportunity for a meeting with Jim Hughes of Campaign Life. “It gave us the opportunity to get a better understanding of each other, our thinking and our organizations in terms of presenting a more united front.” Mr. Newell and Mr. Hughes discussed at some length the Toronto situation as regards the Morgentaler abortuary. Morgentaler has announced that he intends to open an abortuary in Halifax, possibly in October, so Nova Scotians pro-lifers are facing the practicalities of picketing in Halifax.
The educational pro-life movement “has to continue to work to make people aware,” says Mr. Newell. “When you take away the word human from that baby in the womb, then you can do anything with that baby – including killing it. The same thing happened when there were slaves: they weren’t human, they were slaves. You could buy and sell and breed them and do whatever you wanted. We have to keep emphasizing that the baby in the womb is human. It is nothing else but human and it never will come out as a carrot or a tumour. If people will accept that, then the killing of unborn children will be brought under control.”