The March for Life in Toronto last year drew many young people to Queen’s Park showing their support for the pro-life movement. Mickey Conlon

There’s triumph and tears for youth in pro-life cause

By  Sarah Wentzell, Youth Speak News
  • January 15, 2020

Presenting a pro-life talk to a small group of people in Thunder Bay, Ont., Danae Turgeon sounded earnest, and with good reason. Doing pro-life work means encountering a lot of opposition, she said.

“I was in Calgary for four months, and for the first month I cried every night because of the sadness and aggression we encountered daily,” she said. 

It was mostly verbal abuse, but not always.

“Sometimes it would be more physical,” she said. “Often we would have people grab, hit or kick our signs.”

Turgeon recounted one event where students stole their signs “and took them into a back alley where they cut them up and then threw them on the street. They also lit some of our pamphlets on fire.” 

One of thousands of youth across Canada who are becoming involved in the pro-life movement, Turgeon was a 2019 summer youth intern with the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR) in Calgary.  Through her internship she learned pro-life apologetics and how to reach out to people through street activism. 

During her talk, Turgeon emphasized the importance of being “a voice for the voiceless.” Since 1969 an estimated four million abortions have happened in Canada. She is encouraged by the growing numbers of youth across the globe who are speaking out against abortion and helping women in crisis pregnancies. 

“The young people are passionate, on fire,” Turgeon said. 

She said helping save the lives of pre-born infants motivates her to face a hostile culture. “We do it for the babies,” she stated.

Jonathon Van Maren, communications director at CCBR, said every pro-life intern can have an impact on those around them.

“Every single person sees people actually change their mind on abortion, which is an incredibly empowering experience as it illustrates the impact a single person can have on his or her peers,” he said. 

Last summer the CCBR offered its first international internships, connecting pro-lifers from around the world. As different cultures and religions work together to achieve a common goal, numerous stories emerge of how interns learn that it is never too late to change someone’s opinion and that sometimes a compassionate person ready to listen is all that is needed to save a baby. 

“You will see minds changed, you will see hearts changed and you will see lives saved,” Van Maren said. 

On a different front, Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) is involving many youth through internships, life chains and the annual Marches for Life in Ottawa and Washington. Their youth conference draws crowds of 600 or more each year, and this year alone saw more than 250 life chains across Canada. 

Josie Luetke, youth co-ordinator for CLC, said she feels youth are drawn to the uplifting inspiration of the pro-life message. 

“It gives youth a reason to hope…. I also think that the pro-life message, that every human being should have human rights, that each of us are valuable in ourselves, just for who we are, not what we can do, is actually extremely positive.”

Luetke emphasized the importance of having courage, adding that strength can be found through faith in God. 

“I think it is important for youth to realize that there is no one else that is available to do this work,” Luetke said. “We need every single person to get involved.” 

In addition, Luetke said youth are especially influential in reaching out to other youth. Since many women in crisis pregnancies are part of this group, it is critical that they receive support and help from pro-life peers. 

“If we want to have a pro-life prime minister in the future, we need to be influencing future leaders today,” Luetke said. 

Another organization attracting youth involvement is Aid to Women in Toronto. Devoted to providing hands-on help to women in crisis pregnancies, Aid to Women offers counselling, support and, most importantly, love.

“The youth are the ones leading the movement, they are the voice of the movement,” said Mary Ellen Moes, executive director at Aid to Women.

Moes said youth are encouraged by the knowledge that they are directly helping.

“They know that this is going to help a mom, but not only that, they are helping a baby.

 “The pro-life movement… it is young and it is vibrant,” Moes said.

(Wentzell, 16, is a Grade 11 student in Seton Home Study School in Thunder Bay, Ont.)

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