The abortion issue was front and centre when some 600 delegates from Canada, the U.S., Mexico and several other countries came to Toronto for three days in early August for the 119th annual meeting of the Knights of Columbus.

The organization’s New York chapter put forth a resolution calling for the running of newspaper, radio and television advertisements that publicize elected officials’ statements and voting records on abortion. The resolution said the ads should be timed for “maximum impact in terms of educating the public and influencing the actions of elected officials.”

The Knights of Columbus is a New Haven, Conn.-based fraternal Catholic organization whose 1.6 million members, among other things, involve themselves heavily in charitable endeavours, as well as projects that assist the church. Another of its platforms is support for the pro-life cause.

However, Ed McKee, pro-life chairman for the K of C’s Nassau-Suffolk council in New York, told The Interim the organization’s tactics until now have been largely unsuccessful. “Basically, we’re getting no place with (what) we do now and children are still being killed – a million a year in the U.S. alone.”

K of C leaders in Canada and the U.S were reported to be cool to the resolution. “We take a softer approach,” said Phil Zakoor, head of the K of C’s Ontario section. “We’re not backing down on it, but I guess we’re more subtle about what we do,” he told the Ottawa Citizen.

In the end, a committee deemed that there would be no vote on the New York-sponsored resolution. Although the session was held behind closed doors, some delegates said later concerns were expressed that the resolution was “too political” and might make the Knights appear partisan. Others said the issue was too complex.

A Pennsylvania delegate told The Interim the Knights were in danger of harming the goodwill they have earned from the public if they were seen as attacking individual politicians.

McKee, for his part, was unfazed, noting that the work of more than 50 local New York K of C councils will not be wasted.

“There’s always next year’s conference,” he said.