Campaign Life Coalition is working hard for pro-life issues, such as adoption, writes Johanne Brownrigg. Photo/Pexels

Comment: On the contrary … adoption is a pro-life issue

By  Johanne Brownrigg
  • June 5, 2017

In the May 21 issue of The Catholic Register Peter Stockland wrote a sincere Comment piece about the need for renewal within organizations. I agree with him on this point.

I don’t mean change for the sake of change, but the meaningful integration of new people with new ways of perceiving challenges. This is not necessarily an age thing. It’s about ideas and implementation. Youth does not have a monopoly on good innovation any more than age has a monopoly on good implementation.

He is quite accurate in his analysis of the culture in which the pro-life movement has been working. “Losses have accrued in a zeitgeist of relentless and ferocious hostility to life, and against an ideology of personal autonomy that borders on the mad,” he wrote.

What prompts this response however, is the absurdity of this statement: “I recently spoke with someone deeply involved in promoting and facilitating adoption. She described a truly Byzantine regulatory regime that is the reason adoption is such a distant second choice to abortion. When I asked why more political pressure isn’t applied to unravel the crazy rules, she said bluntly it’s because the pro-life movement monopolizes the policy space with its all-or-nothing-at-all demands on abortion.”

As a member of Campaign Life Coalition, there is simply not a pro-life lobbyist I know who would agree with this statement. It is patently untrue.

The “all-or-nothing” assertion is a bell-whistle term which usually refers to Campaign Life Coalition’s non-gestational approach to legislation. It does not reflect the many bills and motions we’ve supported that have never ascribed an age-limit to this protection. But unknown to many people, in 2014 my colleague and I lobbied federal MPs on the provincial issue of adoption.

In the Harper government, there were many wonderful pro-life MPs who had been touched by adoption. We were allies on this file. A pledge in the 2012 Throne Speech to make adoption more affordable was enacted in the 2013 Economic Action Plan’s Bill C-60. The government allowed the $11,669 adoption expense tax credit to start basically when adoption paperwork was filed. This was great news and it also signalled to me that the government might be open to doing even more for adoptive parents.

After speaking with counsellors from a local crisis pregnancy centre, we presented several concrete proposals to the federal government.

Over the course of several months, we met with ministers of state, ministry staffers and a minister. It was during the course of our lobbying, between the 2013 and 2014 Canada Action Plans, that the government increased the adoption expense tax credit to $15,000. We put a spotlight on this issue and it led to a favourable announcement. No credit was given and no credit was taken.

Yet, despite a majority Conservative government that held a preponderance of pro-life and pro-adoption MPs, plus ministers of state and ministers who were very supportive of adoption, all we saw was this tax credit increase. Was this really a Campaign Life failure, a pro-life failure or a failure of a majority government that was indifferent to the pro-life movement?

That same year, Health Canada was again reviewing the abortion pill RU-486. I worked closely with some of our trusted MPs. Again, Campaign Life drew public attention to the dangers of the deadly drug combo. At the National March For Life, we used the theme RU 4LIFE to drive the message home. According to the press, approval of RU-486, marketed as Mifegymiso, was subjected to the longest approval process in Canadian history. We absolutely take credit for that.

That was followed by the 2014 federal election, when we worked on the nomination of 40 pro-life Campaign Life candidates. And we still found time to sell fruitcakes.

Too many pro-lifers simply do not know we can chew gum and walk at the same time. This cultural marathon is really a series of organizational sprints, 365 days a year.

Should organizations involved in the pro-life movement reflect on their approaches and strategies? Yes, they should. But perhaps a glimpse into the workings of the largest pro-life group in Canada can help to rebuild confidence in us and in the movement’s work.

We are one organization, working alongside others, in this “zeitgeist of relentless and ferocious hostility to life.”

(Brownrigg manages federal government relations for Campaign Life Coalition, Ottawa.)

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