Canadian Catholic News: Canadian March for Life focuses on human rights, use of abortion for sex selection

Deborah Gyapong

Document Publication: Canadian Catholic News - Ottawa, QC

Publication Date: May 14, 2007


OTTAWA, Canada (CCN) – Concern for human rights and the growing use of abortion for sex selection dominated the annual March for Life May 10.

Canada’s known around the world for its support of human rights, but one right is missing and that’s unborn child’s right to life, Deputy Supreme Knight Dennis Savoie told the estimated nearly 7,000 people on Parliament Hill, the largest crowd in march’s ten-year history. Savoie, a Canadian, said Canada needed more politicians who were pro-life so this gap in the law can be filled.

Priests for Life national director Father Frank Pavone said a country cannot advance social justice, peace on earth or end terrorism unless it “starts at the beginning and stops the killing of the unborn.”

Pavone said the United States’ pro-life movement has “made some progress” with the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the partial birth abortion ban. He said opponents have cried the decision “chipping away at our right to choose.”

“You are right!” he said. “The end is coming!”

Liberal member of Parliament (MP) Paul Steckle and Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott, co-chairs of the Parliamentary pro-life caucus, held a news conference preceding the march to reveal research on the growing use of prenatal sex selection.

Vellacott said sex-selection abortion is not only a massive problem in China, but also occurs illegally in Canada.

“Selecting preborn girls for termination, simply because they are female, is an important example of the violence and discrimination that still exists against women and girls in Canada today,” said Steckle, who introduced a private members bill last June that would end abortion after 20 weeks gestation.

About 10 Members of Parliament, Conservative and Liberal, greeted the crowd and others sent regrets. No Bloc Quebecois or the New Democratic Party MPs came. Several more, including cabinet ministers Stockwell Day and Jason Kenney, appeared at the annual Rose Dinner following the march.

The human-rights focus echoed the message Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) issued April 30, stressing the fetal rights.

COLF urged Canada to fill the “juridical void” because Canada lacks any law protecting the unborn. The message stressed the scientific evidence revealing the humanity of the child in the womb. “Only three weeks after conception, its heart is already beating,” the message said, noting that at 12-16 weeks the fetus can “yawn, swallow, suck its thumb, and hiccup.”

“From the first moment of its existence, the human being must be respected as a person,” the message, available at, said. The Knights of Columbus co-sponsors COLF with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB). Savoie serves on COLF’s board.

Though no political party will reopen the abortion issue, a recent National Post front-page article revealed the growing discomfort a most Canadians have with the lack of any legal protection for the unborn.

Journalist Anne Marie Owens May 5 story asked why abortion was “simply not addressed publicly,” when an Environics poll showed most Canadians favor some protection for the unborn. Only about 30 percent favor “abortion on demand.” A similar number would ban abortion at any pregnancy stage. Another 40 percent would like some restrictions at later stages.

Mainstream media coverage of the event remained scanty or non-existent. The CBC reported 1,500 marchers, while Maclean’s Magazine online reported 3,000.

Campaign Life Coalition president Jim Hughes, who uses a clicker to count marchers, said he counted about 6,800 who marched through Ottawa and another 100 people who remained on the Hill. Organizers hoped to reach 10,000, but they seemed pleased numbers exceeded last year’s numbers by nearly 1,000.

The Parliament Hill rally also featured the producer and lead actor from the film “Bella,” winner the Toronto Film Festival’s People’s Choice Award last fall. Lead actor Eduardo Verastegui said changing the culture through art is even more powerful than politics.

Producer Leo Severino said much of what Hollywood produces is “poisonous,” citing the pro-euthanasia message of “Million Dollar Baby” and the pro-abortion message of “Cider House Rules.”

Priests for Life
PO Box 236695 • Cocoa, FL 32923
Tel. 321-500-1000, Toll Free 888-735-3448 • Email: