OTTAWA | The tension was palpable yesterday in front of the Canadian parliament as many pro-choice activists came to be heard by the participants of the 25and national march against abortion.
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Several counter-demonstrators said they were worried about the announced decline in the right of women to voluntary termination of pregnancy (abortion) south of the border.
“There is a stronger pro-choice reaction to what is happening in the United States. We are afraid that this movement will follow in Canada”, indicates Émilie Hamels, while around her demonstrators chant “We are advancing, we are not retreating! “.
Emilie is wearing a red cape, a symbol inspired by the novel The Scarlet Maidby Margaret Atwood, in which religious extremists who have taken power in the United States treat women like baby incubators, forced to procreate.
Theresa Thomson, who came from Peterborough to “walk for life”, says her ideas are not based on religion: “I just value the lives of unborn babies,” she says.
But, not far from her, priests in cassocks recite prayers while walking with a delegation of students from a Catholic school in Kitchener who carry a crucifix.
In the crowd, Michael Wilson waves a Carillon-Sacre-Coeur flag, which he explains symbolizes his desire to found a Catholic state in which abortion would not only be illegal, but completely unthinkable.
The voluntary termination of pregnancy has made a comeback in the news, as the US Supreme Court is set to overturn a historic 1973 decision that led to its legalization in the United States.
The leak energized the anti-abortion movement in Canada, giving it “courage and hope” to be heard and achieve its goals, according to Jack Fonseca, director of political activities for the anti-abortion organization Campaign Life Coalition.
A lawyer straight from Louisiana, where elected officials gave their approval last week to a bill that would ban abortion, even participated in yesterday’s event. Mand David Scotton came to talk about adoption as an alternative to abortion.
Well established lobby
In Canada, the anti-abortion lobby relies on numerous pro-life MPs to advance its cause:
More than a third of the Conservative deputies are won over to it and the movement plays a strategic role in the current Conservative leadership race.
This political context is of great concern to women’s rights organizations.
“I think it’s a right that is not acquired, it can be revoked at any time,” worries Elisabeth Viens, who came from Montreal to counter-demonstrate.
– With Guillaume St-Pierre
Recruitment of anti-abortion activists at school
Many children were present during the march in Ottawa.
Far from crumbling, the anti-abortion lobby secures its future by recruiting directly from schools.
Edgar Acosta explains that he founded a rosary club in his Catholic high school in Ottawa to share his faith and convictions.
“Life is sacred,” he said. If abortion is acceptable, that means killing someone is acceptable. »
Edgar participates in the “pro-life” youth summit organized in a church in the capital near two primary schools. Hundreds of teenagers from across the country participate.
In the crowded church, a group of young girls sing religious songs while accompanying themselves on the guitar while waiting for the speeches of the speakers. Their kneeling comrades pray.
“My goal in life is to see an end to abortion in Canada before I die,” says one of the organizers, Julia Bissonnette.
Most of the participants are members of “pro-life clubs” set up in public schools. Anti-abortion groups, such as the Oxford County Right to Life Group, also hold poster contests in elementary schools involving monetary prizes of $50 to $150.
Many school delegations thus participate each year in the national march against abortion, which disgusts Joan Hamels encountered in the ranks of the counter-demonstrators.
“These schools are using public money to organize a private demonstration against abortion,” he complains.