Evangelical Christians shared their concerns with Ontario pro-lifers at the second annual all-Ontario Pro-life Conference held in Barrie, Ontario, November 18-19, 1988.
Hosted by the Right to Life Association of Simcoe County, the two-day event had as its theme, “God has an Army.” One hundred and thirty pro-lifers attended the event to hear an array of speakers including Rev. Hudson Hilsden of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada; Robert Nadeau, a lawyer with the Christian Legal Fellowship of Canada; and Rev. Ken Campbell, founder of Choose Life Canada and its national headquarters at The Way Inn, next door to the Morgentaler “clinic” in Toronto.
“Churches must continue to influence government, the courts and the media.,” said Mr. Hilsden, who added that while “It’s often discouraging, we are not discouraged.” Hilsden’s talk focused on the spiritual battle pro-lifers are really engaged in. He gave his listeners several practical suggestions. Among them were working toward good sex education programs for young people, participating in Royal Commissions on human life issues and supporting crisis counseling centers, homes for unwed mothers and adoption agencies.
Dr. Nadeau centered his talk on the legal, political and constitutional framework. These must be studied carefully so that we can understand what we are dealing with and then how to go about doing something, he said.
He acknowledged the long years during which Catholics had kept the lamp burning on the abortion struggle and then pointed to the coming together in the last two years of 26 Protestant denominations under the umbrella organization known as the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. “There are five million evangelicals in Canada and there is growing respect for them. The light of truth will never be extinguished,” Nadeau said.
In the afternoon panel discussion entitled “Taking a Stand in the Public Forum.” Denise Wiche of Christian for Life, Toronto, explained the reasons for Operation Rescue. She defined it as an heroic attempt by God-fearing people to prevent mothers and babies from becoming victims of abortion on a particular day in a peaceful intervention between executioner and victim, Rescuers blockade the entrance and exit to a clinic and have to be carried away by police.
One rationale for Operation Rescue, according to Wiche is that it helps produce the social tension necessary for political change to take place. At the same time it prevents babies from being killed by effectively closing down the work of the abortionists on a given day, she said.
Don Best, a Metro Toronto policeman and Family Coalition Party candidate in the 1987 Ontario elections spoke of the need for a multifaceted approach which includes education, politics, one-to-one approaches and the use of Operation Rescue.
Keynote speaker Dr. Susan Stanford, author of Will I Cay Tomorrow? Gave a moving testimony about her own abortion and spoke of her counseling with women suffering from serious psychological after-effects of abortion.
Dr. Stanford has lectured nationally and internationally on the topic of post abortion syndrome (PAS), and the steps needed to help heal women. She encouraged those attending the conference to keep fighting abortion but always to do so with love.
Marilyn Bergeron of Cornwall, Ontario, and Rose Lowry of Kingston joined Dr. Stanford on the panel dealing with fighting the causes and effects of abortion.
The Association of South-western Ontario Pro-Life Groups has proposed the hiring of an all Ontario coordinator for the pro-life movement. ASWOPLG president Reggie Weidinger of Cambridge, Ontario, conducted a business meeting in conjunction with the conference where the topic of an Ontario coordinator was discusses. The proposal is that such a person be responsible to the Board members of Ontario and the presidents of Northern, Eastern and Southwestern Ontario pro-life groups.
Included in the duties of the all-Ontario coordinator would be increasing the visibility of the pro-life effort on the provincial level, collecting and making available statistics to all groups and the arranging and coordinating of press conferences and briefs on Ontario issues as well as arranging meetings with members of Provincial Parliament. ASWOPLG is hopeful that this position will receive support from all the provincial groups and can be filled in 1989.