By Tanya M. Granic
Has it really been that long? Twenty-seven years since that pivotal Roe vs. Wade decision wiped out millions of pre-born children in the United States of America. Has it really been that long? Twenty-seven years since that first march where 20,000 assembled to mark the day when legalized slaughter of the innocent began. That’s what they call abortion. What we call murder.
I, a 19-year-old Canadian, had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., this January, having been invited to participate as the national director of Campaign Life Coalition Youth. I was quite nervous travelling to a part of the U.S. where major political decisions are made. One has the tendency to feel so small in a part of the country that seems so big. Yes, the high and mighty Supreme Court of America, stomping ground for the moral libertarians. Anytime I participate in a vigil, demonstration, or a Life Chain, I feel a knot in my stomach. I can sense opposition in the air. I can easily feel like a small beam holding up an entire ceiling, a ceiling of pro-abortion advocates.
My experiences at the U.S. March for Life will forever be ingrained in my memory as one of the best experiences of my life. I had never been to the event before and did not know what to expect. The plane trip down was an experience in itself. Being the only passenger on board, I was able to develop a temporary relationship with the attendant and two pilots. When asked why I was flying to Washington, I hesitantly replied that I was attending a few meetings and participating in the March for Life. Immediately one of the pilots shot out eagerly, “Oh, I’m Catholic. I’m pro-life too!” I was surprised at this comment. Alas, if this sentiment were held by all Christians whose faith called them to be pro-life, I’m sure Canada would be in a different position right now. That is not what struck me about his comment though. What struck me was that this American pilot had no reservations about expressing his stance on life issues. I quickly learned that this was not a unique occurrence. This seemed to be the American way.
Finally, after locating my misplaced luggage, I began to walk to the Metro station. As I was asking for directions, I noticed a group of about 50 very enthusiastic youth. They were full of energy and I overheard that they had come from Florida. They were here for the March for Life. If I hadn’t had a meeting to rush off to I would have engaged them in conversation, but I would learn later that many more groups like these would surface as the march drew nearer.
I spent the rest of Saturday and Sunday at a North American Youth Alliance meeting which is a regional branch of the World Youth Alliance, a pro-life organization representing youth on an international level, especially at the United Nations. It was co-founded by former Campaign Life Coalition New Brunswick president Anna Halpine and Diana Takouhi Kilarjian of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-fam). I met various youth who were deeply committed to the pro-life cause. Some worked as delegates of the Holy See at the UN, one worked at the Population Research Institute, one worked at American Life League and so forth. These meetings alerted us of the problems at the UN and the necessity of an international voice for pro-life youth. These problems will not go away if we youth don’t take action.
On Saturday evening, I was invited to attend the American Collegians for Life annual Banquet. Principle guest speaker Fr. Frank Pavone, president of Priests for Life America empowered all of us to be strong on campuses and to spread the message that we need to be at the forefront in the pro-life movement. After hearing so many great things about Fr. Pavone, to hear his words of wisdom was stunning enough.
Soon enough Monday January 24th arrived, the day of the march. One could sense the feeling of excitement in the air. The Campaign Life Coalition Youth banner was delivered by CLCY members, Samantha Singson, Cathrina Keet and Maria Vandenberg. Then Campaign Life Coalition president Jim Hughes arrived, accompanied by famous Chicago pro-lifer Joe Scheidler and his wife, Anne. What an amazing pro-life champion Mr. Scheidler is!
The march was getting ready to go and there were literally thousands upon thousands of people in attendance. I would later find out that there were over a quarter million people at the march, not to mention innocent victims of abortion who were with us in spirit, smiling down on us from heaven. I could not believe it. I had heard Jim Hughes say, “Stick with the group so you don’t get lost,” but I actually had to make an effort to make sure I didn’t.
The most awesome thing about this event was that 60 to 70 per cent of those participating were youth. Can you imagine? Thousands of young faces that travelled hundreds of miles to march in a parade of flags, banners, and prayers. It was truly amazing. I felt that knot that I usually get in my stomach turn into a warmth in my soul. I felt that God was with each and every one of us, guiding us along as we marched up to the Supreme Court steps, which bear the blood of every aborted baby that has died in this nation since 1973. What power! All done in the name of life.
At the Rose Dinner that night (a banquet that wraps up the annual march), I listened to the words of inspiration from New Jersey Republican Congressman Chris Smith. To hear this politician speak so strongly of the need for other politicians to fight for the recriminalization of abortion or else get out of Congress is flabbergasting. In all my meetings with politicians I have never heard anyone so outspoken for the preborn. Chris Smith, of course, has led the way in making sure that U.S. Funding of the United Nations will not be used by organizations that provide or promote abortion.
Then to listen to the sweet voice of Miss Norma McCorvey with her words of sorrow and her message of hope, was breathtaking. For those of you who don’t know, Miss McCorvey was the Jane Roe, the woman who signed the affidavit that was sent to the Supreme Court in the Roe vs. Wade decision. Her story of her depression, drug use, alcohol addiction, and experiences working at an abortion clinic was scary. Now, however, “Miss Norma” is a pro-life speaker with Roe No More Ministries, a convert to Catholicism, and a radiant woman who has turned her life around. I had the opportunity to speak with her at the dinner. What a sweet woman!
The people I met that weekend made my experience amazing. Having dinner with Dr. John Willke, president of International Right to Life, and listening to his wisdom inspired me to bring back to Canada a determination for the protection of all human life. I also met Pro-Life Andy Anderson, a man who had his name legally changed to include the words “Pro-Life” as a witness to the sanctity of human life. Have you ever heard anything so outrageous? It really isn’t though. If you met Pro-Life you would agree that he has the ability to bring people onside by his activism. Activism. There, I said it again – this word that I want to stress to all pro-life supporters.
You see, there is a message that I have taken home with me to Canada. That message is that if we are to call ourselves pro-life, then we must act accordingly. This idea is not just an American thing (and if it is, it should be Canadian as well). I witnessed a cavalcade of pro-lifers at the March for Life in Washington and I intend on witnessing the same here in Ottawa this year on May 10 and 11, when we Canadians gather in our nation’s capitol to commemorate our “Day of Infamy,” when the 1969 abortion bill was approved by Parliament. Why not? Don’t we value life just as our neighbors south of the border? Can we not afford to sacrifice the time to march in Ottawa for those who are being sacrificed at the hands of abortionists? I don’t see how we can afford not to.