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Newsletter Spring 2016 Print Ready

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 to Nadia’s.

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

Looking Back
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