Campaign Life Coalition is opening up the National March for Life to other Canadian pro-life groups. CCN photo/Deborah Gyapong

March for Life opens doors to wide pro-life spectrum

By 
  • March 15, 2016

OTTAWA - Campaign Life Coalition has paved the way for every organization fighting for the unborn to take part in this year’s National March for Life May 12.

“We’ve done something very deliberate this year,” said Campaign Life Ottawa lobbyist Johanne Brownrigg. “We have decided to present a unified voice from the entire pro-life movement as far and wide as we could reach.”

Even though Campaign Life, the national political arm of the pro-life movement, remains the sole organizer of the march, the promo video released March 14 includes groups such as WeNeedaLaw.ca, the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA), educational pro-life groups such as LifeCanada, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Priests for Life and 4MYCanada. The promo can be viewed at Marchforlife.ca.

The theme of this year’s march is “End the Killing” and its focus is abortion, “despite very serious, very concerning developments on euthanasia and assisted suicide,” said Brownrigg. “Of course, for us, these issues are greatly intertwined. When you decide to kill the vulnerable, it’s clear you are going to continue to kill more vulnerable people.”

The march is one of the only opportunities every year where abortion is guaranteed a headline.

“We are grateful to Campaign Life Coalition for hosting this event and will do what we can to build support for it,” said WeNeedaLaw.ca director Mike Schouten in an e-mail.

Pro-life groups have often been at odds over tactics. For instance, WeNeedaLaw.ca supports incremental legislation that would use a gestational approach to restricting abortion, a tactic Campaign Life has opposed because of its emphasis on protecting life from conception.

“It has been our experience for some time now that if we are going to be successful in advancing legal protections for pre-born children it is necessary for respective pro-life organizations to focus on those things we have in common, rather than on our differences,” said Schouten. “The annual March for Life needs to become more than a stand-alone event. The March for Life affords us a great opportunity to work together to build as much momentum as possible for the following weeks and months.”

ARPA legal counsel Andre Schutten thinks the inclusion of his and other organizations in the promotional video is a “sign of healthy growth and the maturing of the movement.”

“A movement that has many different perspectives and approaches is a sign of a healthy and large movement,” he said. When a movement only has “a single way of dealing with the issue,” it is likely “very new, small and probably not going to be effective.”

Schutten said he has observed a trend over the past five years of the pro-life movement working together, as well as “more and more diversity,” and “that’s a good thing.”

The events connected with the National March for Life start with a vigil May 11, pro-life Masses and church services the morning of the march, the march itself beginning at noon on Parliament Hill, followed by the Rose Dinner. On the following day, march organizers host a youth conference attended by about 700 high school participants.

The speaker for the Rose Dinner is the founder and president of Culture of Life Africa, Obianuju Ekeocha, who will also address the youth conference the next day. A Nigerian who lives in Britain, Ekeocha became well-known in pro-life circles for her open letter to Melinda Gates over $4.6 billion in funding for contraception.

“We thought it would be timely to have her here, because the Liberal government has said they wanted to use the maternal health initiative to fund abortion overseas,” said Brownrigg.

“She is a friend and ally at the UN. That’s where we first met her. She has left an extraordinary impression on our UN team.”

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