Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Prayer Vigil Draws Attention

After frigid temperatures last year, the relatively milder weather may have helped the Kitchener – Waterloo prayer vigil get noticed. There were many people walking down King Street in front of Grand River Hospital on Monday, January 28th. Many of them briefly walked along side the wide cross section of pro-lifers who were praying for an end to abortion. The crowd included pro-life heroes that have been fighting for life for over thirty years as well as young families with children and a sizable contingent from the city’s two universities.

Although K-W Right to Life sponsors this event each year, this year was significant as it marked the 20th anniversary of the 1988 court decision that struck down Canada’s law on abortion. Even the mainstream media recognized the significance of the day. CTV news was at the vigil with a video camera, interviewing K-W Right to Life President Jane Richard and lingering to take video footage of the march, of the candles, and of the faces of people praying, walking, and remembering where we have come from.

The anniversary matters, because even though abortion has been legal in Canada for almost 40 years, unborn children have had no protection at any stage of development since January 28, 1988. This means that a child in Canada who is about to be delivered can be brutally dismembered or murdered in any number of ways, but minutes later the child has all the rights and privileges of any other Canadian. It just doesn’t make sense, and yet, this has been the case for 20 years.

20 years is a really long time. 20 years ago, the Soviet Union was withdrawing after an 8 year invasion of Afghanistan, Ronald Reagan was President of the United States, Eighties music was popular, and the Maple Leafs had only gone only 21 years without winning the Stanley Cup. In fact, many of the university students that joined the vigil would have only just been born. They, like us, are the lucky ones; in the last 20 years approximately 2 million unborn children have had their lives snuffed out while still in the womb.

Technology has also come a long way in 20 years. 20 years ago, Compact Discs were just establishing themselves as the dominant music media, DVD’s hadn’t even been invented, and state of the art computers had 16 colours. Medical technology has also advanced giving people an ever greater knowledge of life in the womb. Fetal surgery, 4-D ultrasound technology, and dramatically higher survival rates of premature babies have all drawn attention to the simple fact that unborn children are undeniably human.

After 20 years, it’s no wonder that attitudes have changed. Today two thirds of Canadian women support legal protection for unborn children at some point before birth, and support for protecting the unborn is even higher among young people. In this environment, a diverse group of volunteers came out to make a statement about the tragedy of abortion, to encourage each other, but mostly to pray. KW Right to Life President Jane Richard said, “I’m always encouraged by the pro-life movement, our voices aren’t heard most of the time, but events like these are a chance to come together and pray and this is more powerful than we know.”

Even though the atmosphere was generally quiet and prayerful, there was a silent bond between participants, with smiles and hellos accompanying heartfelt prayers. There’s nothing like trudging through snow and breathing fresh crisp air while supporting a noble cause to create a sense of camaraderie. Perhaps next year, a local church or pro-life restaurant owner will help further that sense of camaraderie by hosting the volunteers after the vigil with hot chocolate and cider.

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