On Wednesday, February 18, 1986, Antigonish Right to Life held its first Banquet and Annual Meeting.  Present, along with the executive and interested individuals, were members of the local clergy and politicians from the local and federal level.

The President of Antigonish Right to Life, Janet Bekkers, presented the annual report.  The major effort of the year was the highly successful four-day speaking tour of the Rev. Lucien Larre.  Father Larre is the founder/director of the Bosco Homes for Troubled Teenagers in Regina.  He brought with him a powerful respect-life message which was heard by thousands in Eastern Nova Scotia.

Birthright in Halifax/Dartmouth was established in 1971 and along with volunteer counselors, all of whom are women, is guided by a Board of Directors which includes a lawyer, an accountant, a teacher, a priest and a doctor to give the maximum support and help to women and girls experiencing a stressful pregnancy.  Mrs. Henman said that when a girl or a woman comes to Birthright she often feels guilty, embarrassed, confused and along; often there is little or no understanding at home and she may be feeling pressured by family and friends to have an abortion.

Birthright volunteers are available to listen to her difficulties and then to offer a positive alternative to abortion.  They offer help in many areas – accommodation, furniture, maternity and baby clothes, legal or medical aid, job placement, continuing education or adoption help, and often find that when this help is offered the distressed mother is willing and happy to carry her pregnancy to term.  Whether she decides to keep her child or not, Birthright also offers follow-up support.  Mrs. Henman related some examples of how babies’ lives have been saved by Birthright’s support of the mother, and said how very rewarding this is.  In her own words: “You can never underestimate the power of love.  Miracles happen.”

Mrs. Henman’s talk was received with enthusiasm by the large crowd and she was given a standing ovation.  In remarks of thanks to her it was pointed out that at a recent conference a speaker related that the rising acceptance in our society of abortion and euthanasia can in large part be attributed to a lack of care-givers in our communities.  All present at the banquet were grateful for the care that Birthright volunteers give to women and girls experiencing stressful pregnancies and were hopeful that an awareness of this organization in Antigonish Town and County will result in more volunteers for this much needed service in our community.

Two other concerned individuals who spoke to the meeting were Lawrence O’Neil, Federal Member of Parliament for Cape Breton Highlands-Canso and Ed Newell, President of Alliance for Life (National Educational Pro-Life Organization).

Lawrence O’Neil brought those present up to date on the progress of his Private Members Bill C-254 recently introduced to the House of Commons requesting legal representation for the unborn on therapeutic abortion committees.  The meeting responded to his message by giving him a standing ovation.

In his message Ed Newall emphasized the importance of the work that local pro-life groups do and encouraged those present to continue and, if possible, to increase their efforts to promote respect for all human life.

The evening ended with the presentation of three RESPECT LIFE awards to citizens of Antigonish Town and County.  These awards were given in appreciation of outstanding contributions made by these individuals to the promotion and the preservation of all human life.  The recipients of these awards were Alice Hiltz, Antigonish, and Henrica Van Vonderen, Heatherton, for their dedication to the care of foster children and Evelyn Cooke, the first president of Antigonish Right to Life.  These awards were given to accent the importance of individuals in the community responding to the needs of their own people.

President Janet Bekkers expressed appreciation to all those in the town and county who participated in the activities of Antigonish Right To Life in any way.

Mrs. Louise Summerhill, the founder of Birthright, will be speaking on Saturday, May 24 at the Provincial Pro-Life Conference: “FAMILY, THE HEART OF SOCIETY” to be held from Friday, Mary 23 – Sunday, Mary 25 in Truro.  For more information please call the chairman of the conference committee Frank O’Brien at 893-3064 or Antigonish Right to Life at 863-6636.