By Hanna Caruso, Program Manager of Guelph & Area Right to Life
I have not always been pro-life. When I was younger, I hadn’t given the issue of abortion much thought. Though it didn’t seem like a good thing, it seemed accepted by society, and I imagined there might be cases where it was necessary.
Abortion was an issue that did not impact me, and so I never thought to find out how often it happened in Canada, or how far along in a pregnancy abortion was legal.
“That all began to change one day when I saw a Precious Feet pin.”
That all began to change one day when I saw a Precious Feet pin. You may have seen these pins – tiny, gold-plated, life-sized representations of an unborn child’s feet at just ten weeks after conception. A friend of mine was wearing one on her purse, and I asked her what it was. She explained the meaning of the pin, and her answer surprised me and changed my thinking entirely.
What turned me from apathy to action was that an unborn child at ten weeks was clearly human. Having unconsciously absorbed the common misconception that a pregnancy consisted of ‘just a clump of cells’ at that point, I was shocked.
This one event caused me to continue asking questions. I found out that abortion is legal through all nine months of pregnancy in Canada, and that there are 100,000 abortions every year in our country. It was impossible to maintain inaction in the face of that information. That one pin ended up leading me to become an advocate for unborn children.
Isn’t it amazing how a single individual having the boldness to take one small action – such as wearing a pin – can make such a difference?
Precious Feet pins are an amazing educational tool. Whenever I visit high schools to do pro-life presentations, I always bring a supply of these pins. If each student has the boldness to wear that pin on their backpack or purse, I know the ripple effect will change lives and save lives.
The beauty of these pins is that they allow us to look into the womb, at unborn life that we cannot yet see. It shows us that whether we recognize it or not, abortion impacts us all, because it is a human issue. When we see that unborn children are fully human, we naturally recognize that they should be protected.
For Giving Tuesday on November 29th, we are asking you to give towards pro-life education by helping us buy these pins! A donation of $30 would provide the pins to an entire classroom. A donation of $120 would help to provide pins to 100 people at a Right to Life resource table during a local festival or fair. We are also putting donations toward the purchase of small prenatal models (11-14 weeks size) for use in schools and in the wider community. Both of these items are a little over $1.00 each, and they make such a difference.
You can donate online through our CanadaHelps page. Donate today!
Guest Post by Samantha Pascoal, Summer Student with Guelph & Area Right to Life
“When the impossibility of replacing a person is realized, it allows the responsibility which a man has for his existence and its continuance to appear in all its magnitude.” – Viktor Frankl, Holocaust Survivor and author of Man’s Search for Meaning
“This time, she knew things had to be different; because this time, she was pregnant.” – A Bump in Life
Too often, I have engaged in the abortion debate with one goal in mind: to win. In most conversations, I have to backtrack, ask myself, “Have I missed the point?” and then have to remind myself of it: we are discussing real people’s lives.
While all of the pro-choice arguments (bodily autonomy! medical necessity! poverty, rape, incest! global warming! non-humanness! Non-personhood! etc!) are wrong, showing a lack of compassion for people in hardship through one’s words and attitudes is perhaps just as wrong.
“..the most difficult changes provide the truest opportunities for rediscovering one’s value and purpose”
A Bump in Life teaches that when someone becomes unexpectedly pregnant, their life circumstances become crises. A little plus sign or a doctor’s nod can cause one’s whole life to change. However, the novel offers hope that this change is never absolutely for the worse, not only because a beautiful new life has been created, but also because the most difficult changes provide the truest opportunities for rediscovering one’s value and purpose.
While the book may be targeted at unexpectedly pregnant young women and their families, it is inspiring to anybody facing difficulty. Through the stories of 22 young women, I learned how to better support real people – myself included – as we transition over bumps: from grief and despair, to hope, self-discovery, and new life.
Note: “A Bump in Life” is available to borrow from the Guelph & Area Right to Life office library. Contact us to learn more, at facts(at)guelphforlife.com!
In late July of this year, the RU-486 abortion pill was approved for use in Canada. The pill, also called mifepristone, and marketed as Mifegymiso, is used to kill a preborn child. By approving this drug, scientists at Health Canada are putting its stamp of approval on this so-called “safe and effective option”.
This is not only misleading, but dangerous – in more ways than one.
As you might have guessed, mifepristone is never safe for the unborn child. In fact, it is lethal: it works by blocking progesterone, effectively starving the developing child of needed nutrients – ending his or her life. Following this, a drug called misoprostol is taken to induce contractions.
It is sad to see a mechanism for ending life being celebrated as a tool for ‘freedom and choice’. Advocates of abortion are hailing RU-486 as a big win for women (the Toronto Star unabashedly proclaims, “Canadian women win gold – the abortion pill”). Yet, by holding on so firmly to a narrative that refuses to question any element of abortion, they are doing women a disservice. Crucial information on the drug’s negative effects is being ignored or dismissed.
Some are still willing to speak up: Renata Klein, an Australian feminist and academic, has released an in-depth analysis of the harms of RU-486. She comes at it from a pro-abortion perspective, but sheds an honest light on the serious side effects that many refuse to acknowledge.
In her recently re-released book “RU 486: Misconceptions, Myths and Morals” she describes adverse events such as excessive bleeding, hemorrhage requiring surgical intervention, and fatal sepsis. She notes that Finnish researchers found that 20% of women who took mifepristone experienced an adverse reaction – a number four times higher than for surgical abortions. For example, excessive bleeding (requiring a medical consultation and possibly even a blood transfusion) is a complication that has been experienced by thousands of women.
In Sweden, the drug made headlines in 2004 when it claimed the life of a 16-year-old girl named Rebecca. She had chosen an RU-486 abortion because she was told it was a ‘better’ option than a suction abortion. She was alone at her boyfriend’s apartment when she died due to severe hemorrhage. This occurred even though the hospital followed all ‘safety precautions’. The local publicity led other women to come forward with their experiences of similar severe complications.
This highlights a major concern: after taking RU-486 and misoprostol, women are most often alone. This could lead to life-threatening medical problems going undetected. Ectopic pregnancy (which occurs in 2% of pregnancies in the US) is a serious concern, as explained by the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists:
“She will undoubtedly interpret bleeding and pain as consistent with a pharmaceutical abortion, since these are nearly universal effects of mifepristone and misoprostol. This leaves her with the immediate threat of serious harm, or death, if the ectopic pregnancy ruptures.”
Over the course of ten years in the United States, 58 women were hospitalized after using RU-486 with an undetected ectopic pregnancy, and an additional two women died. Yet the FDA still states that they believe “the benefits of Mifeprex outweigh the risks”.
Sadly, the list goes on. Death due to massive infection (sepsis) after taking RU-486 is another major concern, and it is surprising to see how little media attention this issue has received. The FDA’s adverse event report of 2011 noted that 8 women have died due to sepsis after an RU-486 abortion. This number does not include the additional documented deaths in the UK, Portugal, France, and Canada. How many more might there be in China and India, where RU-486 is used but no adverse event information is available?
This life-threatening complication is all the more concerning because – much like ectopic pregnancy – the warning signs are masked by the expected symptoms of the abortion.
RU-486 is often promoted as a ‘solution’ for women in remote areas who have no abortion facilities nearby. As Ms. Klein states in her book, the seriousness of these complications “again makes it clear how dangerous it can be for women in remote areas without access to emergency hospitalization to be told that [mifepristone] abortion is ‘safe and effective’”. (RU-486: Misconceptions, Myths and Morals, p. xix)
Despite all of this, we still hear the stubborn assertion that RU-486 should be available through telemedicine. Amazingly, Heather Mallick of the Toronto Star even calls for the pill to be supplied over-the-counter, entirely removing the requirement for women to see a doctor. This is an absurd and potentially lethal suggestion, revealing a distinct disconnect with the reality of inducing abortion.
Both Health Canada and the drug’s manufacturers have released strict guidelines stating that only physicians can dispense the drug, and that women must have access to emergency medical care. In addition, physicians are required to confirm gestational age, check for ectopic pregnancy and a number of other conditions, and be aware of drug interactions. The doctor must also know the age of the patient, since the safety and efficacy of the drug is not known for patients under the age of 15. These are not requirements that can be casually dispensed with, and to suggest that they should be shows a stunning disregard for women’s safety.
Given the many concerns about RU-486, it is with trepidation that we will wait to see how the landscape will change in Canada when it becomes available next year. What we do know is this: the womb should be the safest place on earth – yet in our country, where there are absolutely no limits on abortion, Health Canada has paved the way for another method of killing. Not only this, but they have put the very women they claim will ‘benefit’ in unnecessary danger.
On February 6, the Supreme Court made an irresponsible and dangerous decision by decriminalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia.
As you can see below, the Supreme Court’s decision would allow assisted suicide not just for those with a terminal illness, but for anyone with an illness, disease, or disability that is “grievous and irremediable”. This includes those with chronic pain, psychological suffering, and any kind of disability.
The Supreme Court has claimed that people who are unable to commit suicide due to the progression of their disease or disability may choose to commit suicide early, while they are still able, and thus the laws prohibiting assisted suicide infringe on their right to life (section 7 of the Charter).
In making this claim, the Supreme Court has effectively created a “right to die” out of the right to life.
Make Your Voice Heard
Parliament now has the option of invoking the notwithstanding clause, a mechanism which gives them the power to override the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Charter, and provides the government a temporary pause. Once the notwithstanding clause has been invoked, a Royal Commission can be formed to thoroughly investigate the impact that this ruling would have on Canadians.
We need to protect people with disabilities, elders who live with abuse, depressed and suicidal people, and all others who will be impacted. It is not safe to enable one person to be involved with killing another person.
Letter-writing is an effective way to reach those in Parliament who will be responding to this ruling soon: Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Justice Minister Peter MacKay, and your local Member of Parliament. We urge you to take action and write a letter to each of these individuals today. Note that letters sent to any of these individuals do not require postage.
To get started, have a look at the sample letter and talking points available on our website, or contact us for more information!
Each year, the Guelph & Area Right to Life office welcomes high school, university, and college students to join our team for the summer.
If you are a pro-life student who would like to make a difference by engaging the community through education, advocacy, and outreach, this opportunity is for you!
Summer students will have the opportunity to develop their knowledge and understanding of pro-life issues such as abortion, euthanasia, and assisted suicide. As part of our outreach and education programs, you may assist with developing educational materials for youth, researching pro-life issues, and/or being part of our crisis pregnancy outreach program.
All students are welcome to apply, but skills in graphic design, research, and writing are especially appreciated.
We invite students to apply now by e-mailing a resume and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline to apply is April 18th.
Please note that applicants must be between 15 and 30 years of age, have been registered as full-time students in the previous academic year, and intend to return to school as a full-time student in the next academic year.
On Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014 Guelph & Area Right to Life was one of many charities and non-profit organizations in Guelph who set up displays in the Old Quebec Street Mall. Guelph Gives had provided this wonderful forum so that we could showcase our work and projects and what an assortment of tremendous organizations were present.
Our display was mostly about babies and how they grow in the womb and so we had many wonderful conversations. One young man was astounded at the image of a tiny 7-week-old child in the womb and asked us if the image was real. He sadly told us that his wife was 7 weeks pregnant and was due to have an abortion on December 9th in Kitchener.
He wore the tragedy of his situation like a mantle and explained that his personal circumstance was not helping, as he had lost his job and his young wife was already looking after two small children and holding down a job. It was not their choice to abort their tiniest child, but circumstances, and they saw no other way out.
We agreed to meet and talk it over, and when we were back in the office we sent out a distress call for prayer and practical support for this little family. In about 48 hours we were swamped with immediate financial assistance and monthly commitments to assist throughout 2015. Our office was filled with diapers for the two little ones and astounding offers of help came through the phone. Presents promised for Christmas, love and support sent to this little family.
High school students, university students, youth groups all donating what they had to help these young parents to bring their baby into the world. Gift cards for food and necessities, offers of babysitting and car rides, offers to adopt the baby or just care for him until Mum felt strong enough to cope, bus passes paid for throughout 2015. Even I have been moved by the sheer enormity of the willingness to assist this family and they are just overwhelmed. It is not going to be easy but they will be fine, because they are part of our family now and we look out for each other!
I have been graced to assist many young women and young families in my years of volunteering with Guelph & Area Right to Life – but I must admit that this outpouring of love and support by so many for this family has brought me to tears.
When I first met them together I was struck by the love they have for each other and their children, their striving to make a life together with all the hurdles they have and have yet to overcome and the challenges facing them. They sat so still in the midst of this turmoil, clinging to each other and gradually to a hope that their baby might yet be born and not aborted.
They will get through and we will be beside them all the way. I asked myself how different this story may have been if we had not been invited by Guelph Gives that Tuesday. This little family is one of many in Guelph who need assistance and I pray that somehow the others will also receive the help they need to get through.
This was the first year for Guelph Gives and financially and in many other ways it was a tremendous success. Well, I believe that this first event was much more than even this because it gave a tiny 7 week baby in the womb a chance at life and the baby’s parents the courage to bring that baby into the world. Guelph Gives Life!!!
Thank you so very much.
– Jakki Jeffs
President, Guelph & Area Right to Life
Note: We are still accepting donations for this family! The outpouring of support from the community has helped them to choose life for their baby, but they will continue to need assistance through 2015. If you would like to assist, you can donate online (indicating that the donation is for the “Guelph Gives Family”) or contact our office for more information.
Is Guelph the most generous city in Canada? We’ll find out in just a few days.
This year, our community will be taking part in an initiative called GuelphGives to mark ‘Giving Tuesday’.
What is Giving Tuesday? From the GuelphGives website:
“You’ve heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday—days great for the economy and for getting a good deal—well now we having GivingTuesday…a day that is great for the community!”
On Giving Tuesday, which lands on December 2nd, everyone will be encouraged to support local charities by donating or volunteering. If you stop by the Quebec Street Mall that day, have a look at the Giving Fair taking place from 10am-6pm. You’ll see tables representing the participating charities, including Guelph & Area Right to Life.
Guelph Gives will be a catalyst to bring the community together in support of all the good work that happens right here in Guelph.
On December 2nd, we will be asking for your support with a very special project: The Garden of Grace.
The Garden of Grace will be a place of prayer and healing for women who have lost their children during or shortly after pregnancy – including those lost through abortion or miscarriage. The landscaped garden will feature two beautiful statues: an angel mourning over an empty crib, and Jesus kneeling with a baby in his arms. It will be located on the grounds of the Church of Our Lady Immaculate. This garden will be the first of its kind, and a much-needed place of remembrance for so many women and families.
We will be launching a crowdfunding campaign in support of this project on December 2nd. Since the Garden of Grace will truly be built by the community, for the community, what better way to start it off than with GuelphGives!
How can you be a part of GuelphGives and making the Garden of Grace a reality?
Help to spread the word about GuelphGives by using the #guelphgives hashtag on twitter.
Visit the Giving Fair at the Quebec St Mall to sign up for volunteer opportunities, donate, and learn more about our project.
Most of all, give! Whether you’re able to give of your time and talents, or donate, together we can make amazing things happen.
Our Garden of Grace crowdfunding campaign will be continuing in the weeks following Giving Tuesday, and we’ll be sure to keep you posted on our progress.
Niki Ashton, an NDP Member of Parliament, recently introduced a bill affirming “a woman’s right to choose abortion”. She extends her vision of ‘choice’ to the entire international community, asking Canada to focus international aid on contraception and abortion, all in the name of equality and human rights.
Here in Canada we are faced with the full spectrum of pills, patches, shots, and implants, on top of unrestricted access to abortion. Estrogen-progestin birth control pills are a Class 1 carcinogen and increase the risk of breast, liver, and cervical cancer. Serious, sometimes fatal, side-effects such as blood clots have led to class-action suits against the makers of Yaz/Yasmin birth control pills, NuvaRing, and the Mirena IUD. Each of these can act as abortifacients. ‘Reproductive freedom’ is not exactly free when you’re paying such a high price.
The Gates Foundation’s plan to spend a cool $5 billion foisting these same products on developing nations prompted a response from Obianuju Ekeocha, a Nigerian woman with concerns about the impact of contraception:
“Where Europe and America have their well-oiled health care system, a woman in Africa with a contraception-induced blood clot does not have access to 911 or an ambulance or a paramedic. No, she dies.”
Complications from abortion can also require serious medical intervention. Many developing countries lack the simple medical framework needed to help with childbirth, let alone complications such as infection and incomplete abortion.
We should pay attention to Ms. Ekeocha’s words: “Listen to the heart-felt cry of an African woman and mercifully channel your funds to pay for what we REALLY need.”
In Nigeria, as in many other developing countries, maternal mortality is high due to preventable complications of childbirth such as hemorrhage, sepsis, obstructed labor, and pre-eclampsia. There is a great need for skilled birth attendants and basic medical care. In Uganda, only half of rural women have access to a skilled birth attendant. Yet USAID spends twice as much on ‘family planning’ as they do on maternal health in that country.
The Philippines has a maternal mortality rate ten times that of Canada’s. In some areas, as few as 24% of births are supervised by a skilled birth attendant. Contraception has not helped them: it is used at the same rate as Japan, which has one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world, yet the Philippines’ maternal mortality remains high. Still, in 2012, USAID spent over $16 million on ‘family planning and reproductive health’ for the Philippines, and just over $3 million on maternal and child health.
When we offer abortion and contraception instead of basic health care, we are making reproductive decisions on behalf of women. We are telling them that we can’t help them improve their health care system, but we’ll pay for them to stop having children, or end the lives of their unborn children. How pro-choice does the NDP look now?
This is not the first time reproductive decisions have been made on behalf of poor and marginalized groups. Funding from the UNFPA and USAID goes into unmistakably coercive contraception, sterilization, and abortion programs in countries such as China, Kazakhstan, and India. As recently as the 90s, Peru was home to a nightmarish UN- and US-funded population control project that led to thousands of forced sterilizations. Indigenous Peruvian women were told that unless they agreed to the procedure, their children would be denied medical care or food assistance.
Pushing contraceptives and abortion on women who simply want simple medical care in childbirth is not the answer.
This article was written by Hanna Barlow, Program Manager of Guelph & Area Right to Life. It appeared in the Summer 2014 edition of the Guelph & Area RTL newsletter. To receive the quarterly newsletter, read more about how to become a member.
Angelina Steenstra at the 40 Days for Life Closing Celebration
Angelina Steenstra became involved in the pro-life movement after her own painful experience of abortion. Since then she has done so much to expose the truth about the harmful emotional and physical effects of abortion. Angelina is the National Coordinator for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign in Canada, which works to make the public aware of the devastating effects of abortion and provides opportunities for women and men to share their abortion testimonies.
On their website there are over 2000 stories of abortion regret. The very real experiences of these women – and men – are a stark contrast to pro-abortion claims that abortion is just another medical procedure, and that the child is just a ‘bunch of cells’. Abortion regret is something that women may hold on to for decades. Silent No More recently found that more than half of the women who had contributed testimonies did not begin to seek healing until more than 20 years after the abortion. However, healing can happen whether it begins 20 weeks or 20 years after an abortion.
The stories from those who are Silent No More are not just of regret, but also of healing; the act of sharing these stories is a step in the healing process.
Angelina, drawing on the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech, writes:
“I dreamt of a day when men and women, who have experienced abortion in their lives, would stand up across this nation and tell the truth about what abortion had done to their lives. I believed that in telling the truth, people would discover freedom, and in doing so would reach others who were isolated and alone, giving them hope.”
As much as there is sadness in recounting these stories of loss, Angelina is right: there is hope. The truth is a powerful tool, and it is boldly displayed in every Silent No More sign that reads “I regret my abortion.” It has the power to bring about change, in one person and in entire communities.
On Wednesday, April 23rd, this message will be the central focus of our 40 Days for Life Closing Celebration. Admission is free (a goodwill offering will be received). Join us in the lower hall of St. Joseph’s Parish (409 Paisley Rd, Guelph) at 7:00pm.
Please do not miss this chance to hear Angelina’s message of hope and healing.
We’ve already reached Day 10 of this year’s 40 Days for Life Campaign! If you haven’t yet had the chance, we encourage you to visit the vigil calendar and sign up for a time of prayer in front of Guelph General Hospital.
When you participate in the vigil, pray at home, or take part in a fast, you are united in your efforts with thousands of people worldwide. This focused effort extends all across the world, from right here in Guelph to Cape Town, South Africa and Melbourne, Australia.
We could give you a list of ten reasons to get involved (or even forty, if you have time!), but you only need one: this is where we come together.
Across the world, in the peaceful silence of prayer and constant vigil, our message radiates even more powerfully because we are joined together. In community with each other, we turn our hearts to God to ask for forgiveness and change.
40 Days for Life provides daily devotionals to unite us in purpose, whether we’re praying at the vigil or from home. The prayers may be for women who are at risk of having an abortion, children at risk of being aborted, men and women who carry the pain of a past abortion experience, those who work in the abortion industry, the healing of our nation, and renewal in our churches.
Our prayers and public witness can make a difference in this community by encouraging people to recognize the value of all human life. For more information on the 40 Days for Life campaign in Guelph, visit our website or contact us! Phone: 519-836-6311. E-mail: email@example.com