WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER
Thirty demonstrators speak out telling why they protest the lack of abortion laws.
A group of 30 pro-life demonstrators braved the cold Jan. 28 outside Edmonton's Law Courts Building to protest 25 years of unrestricted abortion in Canada.
"Today we're marking a somber event, the striking down of all abortion laws in Canada," said Karen Richert, office director for Edmonton Prolife. "This is an opportunity to let the public know that this issue is not settled here in Canada."
On Jan. 28, 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canada's flimsy abortion law, calling it unconstitutional and urging Parliament to write a better law. But Parliament failed to pass any law against abortion, leaving Canada as the only country in the Western world with no law restricting abortion.
At the Edmonton demonstration, George Dundas looked at his own two children, a son and daughter, and said their presence is more than enough to reaffirm his commitment to the pro-life cause.
Dundas said he knows couples who have aborted a pregnancy, and they suffered for it afterwards.
"This struggle has carried on for far too long now. I am saddened that women are still choosing to have abortions," he said. "With events like this today, I feel some optimism that we can change things, change laws to protect the unborn."
A realistic long-term goal would be for a law in Canada against women terminating their pregnancies simply for the reason that they do not want to have a child, he said.
"When a couple gets pregnant and it's unexpected, I understand that abortion might feel like the only option," said Dundas.
"But the way the world is today, there are other choices. There are networks of people, crisis centres and such places, that can provide assistance, maybe give them some alternatives."
Richert said the long-term goal is to change people's hearts.
Even if new abortion laws were introduced tomorrow, without changing people's hearts on this issue, she said people would not necessarily obey the law and women would continue having abortions somewhere.
Still, even if there were some law restricting abortion in Canada, it would make a statement that something is wrong with abortion, she said. It would also be a step toward establishing a more stringent law.
At the demonstration, people held signs with messages such as "Thanks, mom, for giving me life!" and "When life is not safe in the womb, it is not safe anywhere." Some placards showed pictures of a fetus in various stages of development.
Richert estimated there have been well over 3.6 million abortions in Canada since it was legalized in 1969.
When the law was struck down in 1988, so were reporting requirements so the database is incomplete and only captures about 90 per cent of the total, according to Statistics Canada's estimate.
In 2007, the Canadian Institute for Health Information began disseminating abortion data. According to their figures, between 2007 and 2010 there were 51,886 abortions performed on women in Alberta.
"I sometimes smirk when people say we need legalized abortion because we don't want back-alley abortions," said Richert. "Well, the only thing that legalization has done is made the back-alley abortionist a legal abortionist."