The following is a condensation of reflections by George Gilmore, President of New Brunswick Right to Life, as told to Interim writer Doreen Beagan.

The comments came following a disappointing provincial effort to block Henry Morgentaler from opening an abortuary in Fredericton.

Frank McKenna’s Liberal government has since decided to appeal the ruling and the courts have granted Gilmore’s group intervenor status.  NB RTL hopes that it will be able to present evidence on the disastrous effects abortion imposes on women.

We all knew what Henry Morgentaler’s game plan was.  He told us plainly enough.

Every province has had its Morgentaler battles, constant variations on the same theme.

Each time pro-lifers have had to start from scratch to learn the legal procedures and process, to deal with legislation, to deal with government, to build a case, to raise money.

There have been valiant efforts by a great many people, yet we’ve achieved only a very few, very small victories, even in the most promising areas.

But the battles aren’t over yet.  Many more loom just over the horizon.

Governments will still resist paying for unregulated aspects of health care.

The pro-aborts will challenge the informed-consent legislation that is coming.

Health care professionals will be charged for harming women’s health.

Because women will be hurt by the establishment of abortion clinics, governments must be brought to task, and made to bear the blame and responsibility for the health consequences of the situation they have created.

We were not well prepared in the past, and we need to learn from that.

Too often people with absolutely no experience of the legal system, were plunged into a struggle whose rules they only dimly understood, and pitted with no reparation against experts.

Once it became apparent what Morgentaler was up to, clinics could have been developed to train lay leaders and provincial leaders in such basics of the legal process as intervention.

Often, though skilled in law, our lawyers were not familiar with the pro-life developments, evidence and arguments, whereas we knew the pro-life scene intimately, but not the appropriate legal precedents.  This too, put the pro-life movement at a disadvantage.

It could have made all the difference if a sort of generic court case had been prepared, with a national resource bank of supporting evidence and arguments, list of experts, precedents, references, etc., which provinces could draw on as the starting point of their own cases.

Although there was some pooling of effort and sharing of strategies and information, generally every province struggled more or less alone.  Hindsight suggests that it would have been better strategy to select the most “winnable” areas and make a massive concerted effort to ensure success there.

We would have been wise to develop a coordinated and structured method of public education.  The pro-life movement has important information to get out, such as the medical implications of abortion.  But because it’s always been done by volunteers, it has rarely had the needed impact.  The struggle is far from over.  We should learn from our past, preparing well – and early – to win future battles.