Hundreds of protesters were gathered outside barricades and along major roads leading to the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont. June 16. The institution was awarding notorious abortionist Henry Morgentaler an honorary degree inside its Alumni Hall as part of convocation ceremonies. A large contingent of media personnel was present, covering events on both sides of the issue.
Suddenly, everyone’s attention was riveted by a sombre group of figures clothed in formal black, who appeared on the scene and slowly made their way toward the main thoroughfare leading into the university grounds. Between them, they carried a casket topped by a pair of infant’s shoes and a banner reading, “1970-2002: Mourning 2,587,438 Canadians Killed in the Womb.”
Television camera crews jostled for position and newspaper photographers began taking reams of pictures. So began what was probably the media highpoint of the demonstration that day. Footage of the casket ran on many major newscasts across Canada that evening.
It was a time of prominence for the relatively new pro-life ministry Truth and Love for Life, which was founded in London by a group of born-again Christians during the early part of 2004. It has been staging regular demonstrations, with large banners, every six weeks outside London’s Victoria Hospital, where abortions are committed. Prior to June 16, it had been looking for an opportunity to present a casket-oriented demonstration in a public venue.
The award to Morgentaler presented the perfect opportunity.
“We had been planning to do a memorial march a year to a year-and-a-half before we heard about the Morgentaler rally,” group organizer Dean Idsinga told The Interim. “We had been building the casket and had purchased a flag and regalia. We were looking for a time to do a memorial march that would have an impact on the community. When we heard about Henry Morgentaler receiving an honorary doctorate, right away we said, ‘We believe this is the occasion God has placed before us. This is the appropriate time to step out and share this message.’”
Group members chose to dress well and use a casket as a centerpiece because it would be a respectful way to mourn the dead, as well as turn heads. And turn heads it did, not only at UWO, but also throughout a march that began at 6 a.m. at Victoria Hospital, then passed by city hall and into major London intersections at the peak of morning rush hour. “Generally, we found the reaction (from the public) very positive,” says Idsinga, who was also pleased with the overall media coverage. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get as much of the Gospel message across as we had hoped. We do love Henry Morgentaler. But we very much disagree with what he is doing, what he has done and what he stands for. We call him to repent. As Christ loved us, Christ alone can change his heart and we would love to see that. He would be a new person.”
Truth and Love for Life was started out of the need both to raise the profile of the pro-life issue in evangelical churches and point out the abortifacient properties of the birth control pill. Its name was chosen out of a desire to share the “truth” about the Gospel and abortion, as well as share the love of Christ to the unborn.
“One of our concerns is that we get the Gospel across, so that people understand who Christ is and salvation,” says Idsinga, who works as a registered nurse. “That is a message that is often not as strong. Not enough evangelicals are standing up for life and no one’s speaking about the birth control pill, which prevents implantation some of the time. Therefore, it’s an abortion at the beginning of life. We believe conception is the beginning of life. That message is not adequately being given to people. They’re not able to give informed consent.”
Idsinga adds that although most churchgoing Christians believe abortion to be wrong, few choose to speak up about it. “We need to change that. These are true lives. If we knew someone was going to be murdered … we’d cry out and try to stop it. Daily, here in London, a half-dozen or more are killed. We cry out for this. We need to raise awareness. If we truly believe these are lives, our actions should demonstrate that and we should cry out.”
With members ranging in age from the teens to the 60s, the organization began, and is still based, in London, but has designs on becoming a national presence.
“We’d love to have people involved from everywhere,” says Idsinga. “My fiancé will be going to Vancouver and will hopefully start Truth and Love for Life there. I’ll go visit her throughout the year and later on, we’ll move out there and continue it.”
The group also wants to take the casket to different churches and cities to raise awareness of the abortion issue. It hopes to eventually have a memorial march in Ottawa – the centre of political and judicial actions that have promoted freer abortions in Canada – and establish a permanent pro-life memorial to unborn Canadians killed by abortion.
Its next demonstration outside Victoria Hospital, at Commissioners and Wellington Roads, is scheduled for August 27.
Truth and Love for Life is in the process of establishing a website, but in the meantime, anyone wanting more information, or who is interested in joining the organization, can e-mail email@example.com, call (519) 777-5433 or write to