The pro-life understanding of respect for life has always extended beyond the issue of abortion to include the lives of the handicapped, elderly and all who are threatened by the anti-life violence within our society.
Five years ago at the request of the League for Life in Manitoba, Winnipeg’s mayor, Bill Norrie, proclaimed the second Week in February as Respect Life Week. Each year since then, he along with the mayors and reeves of a number of towns and communities in Manitoba, have issued an official proclamation encouraging a deeper appreciation for the gift of life.
The proclamation reads, in part,
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity of each member of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in a society;
And, whereas, all life is sacred and any violation of this principle indicates a lack of respect for human life;
And, whereas it is essential to renew in society the inherent value of each human life, and thereby disarm the attacks made upon it;
I hereby proclaim the week of February 8th to 14th, 1987 as RESPECT FOR LIFE WEEK and urge all citizens to thoughtfully consider the aforesaid issues.
Pro-abortion groups at first took great exception of Mayor Norrie’s decision to proclaim Respect for Life Week. The result was a marked increased in publicity for the week and the perception that pro-abortionists were opposed to respect for life. This year there was little or no controversy.
All our lives
The theme of Respect Life Week, 1987, was the poster, “ABORTION – ALL OUR LIVES ARE ON THE LINE.” This year more than 30 organizations, institutions and various religious bodies, actively supported Respect Life Week and the proclamation issued by Mayor Norrie.
Included among the supporters were Grace St. Boniface, and Miscericordia General Hospitals, Winnipeg Municipal Hospital, Meadowwood Manor, Marymound School, L’Arche Winipeg Inc., Central Canada Baptist Conference, Mennonite Central Committee (Manitoba), Pentecostal Assemblies (Man. * N.W. Ontario District) Manitoba Conference of Bishops, the Pastor’s Evangelical Fellowship, Nurses for Life and Physicians for Life.
“All Our Lives Are on the Line” were displayed on transit shelters and a smaller versions were placed in city buses. Many churches within the province, non-Catholic and Catholic alike displayed posters, distributed pro-life materials, and reflected on the value of human life in prayers, sermons and homilies.
First baby contest
In Winnipeg, three of the five largest hospitals participated in the “first baby contest.” This year the first baby of Respect Life Week was a girl, Carrie Manicom, born at the Grace General Hospital. The baby’s mom was presented with flowers and a gift package including knitted sweaters and booties, terry pyjamas, disposable diapers, baby products and stuffed toys. The items were donated by local merchants.
In addition to recognizing the first baby, many towns and communities including Winnipeg, also recognized life at the other end of the spectrum. The oldest residents in many nursing homes were visited and presented with flowers and gifts.
Pro-life displays were evident in a number of shopping malls throughout the province, pro-life audio-visuals were shown on community-access channels, and poster and oratorical contests were held in many places including Winnipeg in order to encourage young people to think about respect for life.
The town of Steinbach introduced the novel idea of offering restaurants specially designed placemats for use through the week. These placemats featured respect life messages and pictures. The idea was well received and five restaurants participated. The Pas Pro-life Association entered a Respect Life Float in their annual Trappers’ Festival parade.