KW Right to Life
Marks Tragic Anniversary
by Patrick O’Neil
On January 28 approximately 100 people
joined KW Right to Life to mark the anniversary of the Morgentaler decision that struck
down Canada’s abortion laws and created the legal vacuum where preborn children
until the time of their birth have no legal protection in this country.
The format was much different than in years past when we would
hold an hour long silent vigil in front of Grand
River Hospital. This year we moved a few blocks south in front of Kitchener City Hall
where the out door skating rink and the lights of downtown provided a fun and energetic
atmosphere. After a half hour we walked to St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church where
we were graciously hosted. There we had a half hour of prayer and reflection.
The highlight for me this year was in the reflection delivered by Harold Albrecht, Conservative
MP for Kitchener Conestoga. In a heart felt address, Harold explained how his
personal experiences have led him to place a high value on life at every stage from conception
to natural death. They were powerful examples. He spoke of a grandson who
was born extremely prematurely. The baby did not survive, but the impact of the loss on
the parents and extended family left little doubt that this was more than just the product
of conception. This little one was a very real person who remains missed.
He spoke of the disabled, particularly children, youth and adults with Down Syndrome
mentioning that they are often so joyful and unconditionally friendly. These special people
have enriched the lives of their families and community. Simply because we have
the technology to screen in utero, it would be a shame to end their lives prematurely
and miss out on the special joy they bring to our world. He spoke of visiting the elderly
in nursing homes and hearing their stories of pain and loneliness. He said we must focus
on providing quality comfort measures, palliative care and emotional support for the
elderly, rather than opening the door to euthanasia. Finally, he spoke of the mentally ill
and the depressed and of a colleague who committed suicide. He also expressed how
personally shaken he was by the news of Nadia Kajouji. Nadia was an 18 year old university
student who committed suicide in March 2008. During the investigation into
Kajouji’s death, police discovered that a 47-year-old male nurse from Minnesota,
who was posing online as a 28-year-old woman might have encouraged Kajouji to
commit suicide via an internet chat room. Under Canadian law, no charges have been
laid in the case.
Harold, pictured left, explained that Section 241 of the Canadian Criminal Code says
“everyone who…counsels a person to commit suicide, or aids or abets a person to commit
suicide, whether suicide ensues or not, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to
imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.” His concern though is that it is
not clear whether encouraging someone to commit suicide via the internet is a crime.
On November 18, the House of Commons voted unanimously in favour of a motion
(M388) Harold put forward calling for change in how the Criminal Code deals with
people who counsel others over the internet to commit suicide. He is hopeful that the
measure will prevent another case similar
Harold thanked everyone present for the work they have done to protect life,
and noted that our most important task is to change the hearts and minds of our friends and
neighbours. He noted that in his experience, even a simple example of sharing an image
of a preborn child can start a conversation that will help to convince people of the humanity
of preborn children and to know that they need our protection. After hearing
Harold’s message, many of us left with a renewed sense of purpose.
From K-W RTL's "News & Views" Newsletter, Spring 2011 Edition
by Marilyn and Hart Bezner
How did we get involved in the Pro-Life movement? Our memories emphasize different aspects here.
Marilyn feels that the major impetus behind our involvement was the television program Bear Pit that
on one occasion featured Grace Hargrave of Toronto Right-to-Life. Grace's calm and cool demeanor,
while under attack, was impressive. Our follow-up phone call led to our participation in a subsequent
pro-life demonstration in Toronto, including a walk from City Hall to the St. Lawrence Centre, where we
first heard Jack and Barbara Wilke of Cincinnati Right-to-Life.
Hart has strong memories of a steady onslaught in the then Women's Section of the Kitchener-Waterloo
Record that appeared to promote the views of the United Church hierarchy and the Canadian Medical
Association in favor of making abortion a personal and private affair, beyond the purview of the law.
One night the Record carried the story of Frances Martin, a delivery-room nurse at the Hamilton Henderson
Hospital, who was demoted and transferred to another department because of her refusal to participate
in abortion procedures. Her stated reasons were based on moral and religious grounds.
By late 1971 our concerns had brought us into contact with other like-minded people and we became part
of a steering committee of seven. One of the group's first concrete actions was to invite the Wilkes
to address a public meeting to be held on the campus of WLU in early 1972.
During the last planning meeting in preparation for the Wilke visit, one of the group, the Reverend
Ralph Humphries of Glen Acres Baptist Church, urged us to launch a local Right-to-Life group and KW
Right-to-Life can trace its beginnings to that evening.
In the early days of the abortion debate, the subject generated broad interest in the greater community
and members of the group were invited to speak at many public meetings, in a broad area, extending from
St. Catharines to Walkerton, from Guelph to Goderich.
K-W and the surrounding communities responded readily and generously, participating in petitions to city
councils, hospital boards, and provincial and federal governments. Many joined our group, large numbers
protested in a huge circle around KW Hospital on Mother's Day in 1973, and they began to sponsor
advertisements in all the local media.
We came from so many different backgrounds, but the bond that united us was the knowledge that the
act of abortion is a violation of the core values that bestow meaning and dignity to our existence.
From K-W RTL's "News & Views" Newsletter, Summer 2002 Edition