The National Silent No More Awareness Campaign will have an even more prominent role in this year’s March for Life, as its participants will form one of the groups leading the march with their signs. The women’s signs will read, “I regret my abortion,” while the men’s signs will read, “I regret lost fatherhood.”
The campaign, in this its third year in Ottawa, will also offer testimonies on Parliament Hill after the march .
As its literature explains, “The National Silent No More Awareness Campaign is an effort dedicated to raise awareness about the physical, emotional and spiritual pain men and women experience after abortion. We also want men and women who are suffering silently to know help is available.”
Says Whitby, Ont.-based campaign co-ordinator Angelina Steenstra: “We’re all impacted when someone chooses death. It’s like a pebble in a pond – it ripples out for good or for evil.”
From its focal point in Ottawa, the campaign spreads the word that abortion not only kills the unborn child, but also damages the extended family and our whole society.
The message has already helped one woman – who was on Parliament Hill for other business in 2004 and then found out she was pregnant – to choose life. That woman returned in 2005 to give her own testimony.
The campaign also confronts politicians with the reality of abortion’s aftermath and strengthens the federal Pro-Life Caucus in its convictions.
Denise Mountenay of Tumbler Ridge, B.C. has been able to speak to members of Parliament during past campaigns. She and colleague Linda Menon were able to “share our testimony and our concern about the damage that legal abortion has on women physically and emotionally,” says Mountenay. In 2004, Conservative MP James Lunney rose in the House to acknowledge these women’s presence in a speech recorded in Hansard under the headline, “Rights of the Unborn.” Conservative MP Rob Merrifield was subsequently motivated to call for improved legislation on informed consent.
Connie Thomson, a Windsor, Ont.-based campaign co-ordinator, contrasts the Parliament Hill experience with other speaking events, noting that “on the Hill, it was more meaningful because it was speaking to Canada.” She adds, “It’s an opportunity to give a voice to the babies (who) have been mercilessly murdered. It’s an opportunity to make people aware that it’s a huge segment of our population that is lost and unrecognized. It’s an opportunity to make amends in a way and recognize that the child is lost to the world. So therefore, perhaps, you can save a life if someone listens and you can also bring other people to healing and reconciliation in the process, so if there is denial or they’re ashamed or they’re carrying a burden and they don’t know they can be forgiven, speaking out gives that stress.”
Post-abortive men and women who participate in the Silent No More Awareness campaign are liberated from their shame, fear and denial, and through the process, receive the freedom to grieve and help others in the pro-life movement. Once Steenstra “found the courage to walk through that wall … and be ‘silent no more,’ in such a public venue,” she learned that, remarkably, she “would be applauded for what (she is) doing. And that’s really the mystery: that God works all things for good.” Those who were once silent in their shame, fear and guilt, she says, find as “public repentant sinners” that they are being thanked for honesty, courage and generosity. Marchers in the crowd, Steenstra explains, whether post-abortive or not, have “made a point to come up and say, ‘Thank you,'” on behalf of themselves, their loved ones and the pro-life movement.
The first Silent No More Awareness Campaign was officially launched in Washington, D.C. in January 2003. After coming to Canada in 2004, it spread to England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. “The Truth About Abortion: Experience Versus Rhetoric,” a DVD with Canadian and American testimonies about the campaign, is available through the website www.priestsforlife.org.