The National March for Life drew close to 20,000 people to Parliament Hill with youth making up the majority of the marchers. Photo by Deborah Gyapong

March for Life breaks record, draws nearly 20,000 people to Parliament Hill [w/ video]

  • May 13, 2012

OTTAWA - The National March for Life drew almost 20,000 people to Parliament Hill May 10, making it the noisiest, youngest and most densely packed gathering in the March’s 15-year history.

An estimated 60 per cent of marchers were under 30, marching on the theme “Abortion Hurts Everyone.”

Marchers arrived on the Hill around noon to find police had barricaded about one-quarter of the lawn, reserving it for pro-abortion demonstrators. This forced the March for Life participants to crunch together, shoulder to shoulder, though only about 50 people appeared to represent the other side. The lawn reserved for pro-abortion demonstrators remained empty, as the counter-demonstrators formed a thin but noisy line along a section of the metal barricade.

“If they can make space for the other side of the debate out here on the lawn, why not make space for the other side of the debate inside Parliament?” asked former Liberal MP Pat O’Brien, who acted as MC.

RELATED STORY - Archbishop Prendergast blasts lies that support abortion at March for Life 2012 mass

Some of the biggest applause from the crowd greeted MP Stephen Woodworth, one of 18 Conservative MPs to take part in the march, whose Motion-312 calls for a Parliamentary committee to look into the latest scientific evidence on the definition of a human being. His motion would examine the present Criminal Code definition that says an unborn baby is not a human being under the law until he or she completely exits the birth canal.

“Canada’s 400-year-old definition of a human being is dishonest,” Woodworth said. “It’s wrong.”

Human rights are inalienable, he said, they are not some gift from the state that Parliament can cancel at any time, he said.

Fellow Conservative MP Stella Ambler urged people to support Motion-312. 

“There is no law on abortion and some don’t even want the conversation,” she said. “Stephen Woodworth started the conversation and the sky is not falling.”

With ultrasound and all the other knowledge we have, “it is untenable to pretend what is in the womb is not human,” said Conservative MP James Lunney. He spoke of a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine about pre-natal surgery for 22- and 23-week-old babies in the womb that greatly reduced problems due to spina bifida.

“If it wasn’t a human in the womb that was operated on, what was it?” he asked. “Falsehood is the worst foundation for public policy.”

“There is a need to enter the conversation about the gift of life with respect,” said Conservative MP Harold Albrecht. Most people are willing to discuss the beauty and sanctity of life, he said, noting concerns go beyond abortion to euthanasia, suicide prevention and end-of-life care.

Evangelical Fellowship of Canada president Bruce Clemenger told the crowd there is “no right to abortion,” that the Supreme Court of Canada did not grant that right when it struck down Canada’s abortion laws.  

“We cannot afford not to have this conversation,” he said. “Parliament needs to catch up with what Canadians believe.”

“We are not simply anti-abortion, we’re pro-life,” said Conservative MP Jeff Watson, who came to the steps with his wife and their six children, including his newly adopted baby daughter.

About seven Catholic bishops also greeted the crowd from the steps in front of the Peace Tower, including Toronto's Cardinal Thomas Collins who urged the conversation on life to be infused with “love, clarity and charity.”

“Life and family are together,” said Valleyfield Bishop Noel Simard, speaking as president of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family. Supporting life means supporting the family, the building block of society, he said. 

“Let us give life and save life in our families.”

“Without children there is no school,” said Peterborough Bishop Nicola De Angelis. “Without children there is no family; without children there is no society.”

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