The weather was great. The accommodations were great. The speakers were great. The security was great. The boat trip in the harbor was great. The people were great. And the cops – Toronto’s finest – were also great. They cleverly kept the pro-aborts, ‘Queer Nation,’ ‘Act Up’ (flaky homosexual groups) and the Rent-A-Mob types boxed up and so far away from us – you could hardly hear them swear. (The police got a standing ovation from the jammed pro-life banquet crowd for their efforts).
The difficulty of “choice”
Jim Hughes was astounded at the biggest complaint he heard from the people who attended the three-day conference – that there were to many great workshops going on at the same time! It was almost as if they were complaining about being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.
Fortunately – although it’s not like being there – work-shops that you would have liked to attend but couldn’t are now available on tape at a measly $6.00 each. And they tell me – much less if you buy in quantities.
The one good thing is that 950 of us had a chance to attend a stirring address by our guest speaker at the banquet: John Cardinal O’Connor, Archbishop of New York, a strong pro-life apostle. It capped a most successful conference. Earlier in the day, O’Connor had addressed a clergy luncheon that was well attended – forty priests, 60 nuns and deacons.
O’Connor was introduced at the banquet that closed the convention by atheist and liberal Jew Nat Hentoff, who is the author of O’Connor’s well-received biography – unlikely types to have a strong admiration for each other. What drew these two opposites to a liking for each other? A shared hatred of abortion, euthanasia and a mutual strong love for the working people. Also, neither one of them has slid down the slippery slope of pragmatism.
Hentoff told of being in an outer office and overhearing a New York archdiocesan bureaucrat suggest bringing in ‘people’ to dig cemetery plots to break a nasty strike of the grave diggers that had been going on for some time. Cardinal O’Connor’s voice rose and he could hear him yell: “Over my dead body!”
In his talk, in which O’Connor wasn’t afraid to liken the abortion struggle to the Jewish Holocaust, he attributed the Holocaust tragedy to apathy and cowardice on the part of people who could have done something about it and didn’t.
I attended Nat Hentoff’s conference and in a far-ranging talk on the evils of abortion and euthanasia, he informed his audience that more females were aborted than males and you never hear any complaints regarding that from feminist organizations. He suggested a slogan: ‘Equal rights for Uborn women.’ He decried his own media compatriots for “unfair and unbalanced coverage” when it came to pro-life issues. Hentoff said that it was not as the media portrayed it – “a war between two factions – it was a war against children!” The media never acknowledged the cruelty, he said, the breaking of arms that could be clearly heard on a tape of Rescuers in Los Angeles.
Hentoff said that pro-lifers were dismissed as “religious kooks.” And it bothered them that he was an atheist. He admitted – in spite of his best efforts – he had been unable to convert even his own wife to a pro-life position! He said the media’s goal was to “destroy the image of us as people.” He said that in the United States a jury – even if they found you guilty – (say – for taking part in a Rescue) – could still let you off if they found good reasons for your actions! It was called ‘jury nullification.’ Too bad they don’t have it in Canada – but then again they might end up with the same perverse jury selection system that led to an all pro-abortion jury – such as the one they had in the Morgentaler case.
Although he was reluctant to endorse Bush/Quayle – despite their pro-life position – because of their perceived shortcomings in office (from his liberal perspective) – he said that the solidly pro-life vote in the United States ranged from 17% to 19% and this could mean a lot in a three-way race. Bush – Clinton – Perot – take notice.
Claire Hoy, describing himself as a token Presbyterian, a columnist and author of a recent best selling book on Mossad, the Israeli secret police, strongly pro-life himself, admitted that pro-lifers have very few friends in the media. We are perceived to be “zealots and anti-Semitics.”
Paul De Courcy, a popular Toronto radio personality, said that our problem was that we were battling the “age of secularism.” His radio audience was mostly from 25 to 54 years of age and the station wanted upbeat,, “affirmative news.” He always tries to be fair to both sides of the abortion issue. The general feeling by the media speakers is that the pro-life people should “lighten up a little.” (I guess it’s like urging an undertaker to smile a bit more).
Lorraine Carbonnewau, a women’s shelter worker, spoke touchingly of losing her job a few years ago (along with two other female shelter workers who agreed with her), because she wouldn’t babysit a woman’s two children while the woment went off and had an abortion! When she appealed for help to a cabinet minister who had the authority to overrule her dismissal, he refused to act, suggesting the board of directors of the shelter was autonomous. This was the same man who has ten children, who was the past chairman of a large Catholic school board in Ontario and had even debated Morgentaler on the abortion issue ten years before!
It would be impossible in this allotted space to cover all the excellent speakers that were at the conference but when I listened to some of the tapes of workshops, that I attended afterwards, it brought back a rush of fond memories of delicately turned phrases, amusing comments and telling arguments that back the pro-life cause.