An estimated 25,000 people march through the streets of Ottawa demanding protection for the pre-born at the 2014 March For Life. Photo by Craig Macartney.

Pro-life movement flourishing despite opposition

“Polling data shows that when Canadians see the reality of abortion they often change their mind.”

OTTAWA, ON—There is a sense of urgency this year as the pro-life movement prepares for the annual national March For Life in Ottawa. Although grassroots support for the pro-life cause has grown dramatically in the past few years, abortion advocates are working much harder to censure public debate, especially in federal politics.

“When I see the response of the pro-life MPs, as they look at the [March For Life] crowd, I know they are encouraged for the fight,” says pro-life lobbyist Johanne Brownrigg. “When they see 20,000 or more people who are grateful to them and share their vision of respect for life, it gives them the courage they need to go back and face the opposition.”

In the past three years, March For Life attendance has grown from 19,000 to 25,000, by far the largest annual protest in Canada. Yet despite the crowds, the past year has been difficult for pro-life MPs. Pro-life views have been suppressed and derided in every federal party and on the eve of last year’s march, Justin Trudeau declared that Liberal MPs would be forced to vote pro-abortion on any legislation.

“The theme of this year’s march is, ‘Let Life Win,’” says Brownrigg. “It’s directly in response to the prevailing hopelessness where death is being offered as a solution, but it’s also a veiled reference to Trudeau’s ‘no choice but pro-choice’ edict. With this being an election year, we are saying, ‘in your consideration, let the notion of life win.’”

Pro-life organizations have always been bi-partisan, encouraging pro-lifers to support pro-life candidates, not specific parties. However, in response to Trudeau’s ongoing, aggressive pro-abortion rhetoric, Campaign Life Coalition (the organizers of the March For Life) and the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform have partnered to launch a massive campaign called #No2Trudeau.

Pro-lifers march past the National War Memorial at the 2014 March For Life. Photo by Craig Macartney.
Pro-lifers march past the National War Memorial at the 2014 March For Life. Photo by Craig Macartney.

“This is the biggest pro-life campaign in Canadian history,” says Jonathon Van Maren, communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform. “The #No2Trudeau campaign has two primary goals: to revitalize and expand the pro-life base, and begin rebuilding a public consensus on the abortion issue.”

Van Maren says Canada has become a majority pro-abortion country in the last 40 years. However, numerous public opinion polls have shown that most Canadians are unaware of Canada’s complete lack of restrictions on abortion.

In response, the #No2Trudeau campaign plans to distribute one million information postcards across Canada, conduct research to identify pro-life voters and mobilize volunteers to support pro-life candidates in the upcoming election. The campaign also includes a speaking tour making stops in 23 cities across Canada.

“Polling data shows that when Canadians see the reality of abortion and hear some simple, but comprehensive arguments, they often change their mind. That’s why we have to confront the culture with the truth about abortion. It’s very empowering.”

Van Maren says contrary to pro-abortion predictions that Canadians would accept legal abortion and the issue would disappear, the movement is rapidly gaining ground.

“I think there are very encouraging signs,” he says. “The pro-life movement is becoming younger, more energized and more active. The strategies are newer, and more effective. And as we change public opinion, we’ll have the chance to change public policy.”

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About the author

Senior Correspondent

Craig Macartney lives in Ottawa, Ontario, where he follows global politics and dreams of life in the mission field.