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Young People Increasingly Visible in Canadian Pro-Life Movement

by | May 11, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Nothing surprises the press more than a discovery that their most cherished (and embedded) stereotypes are either no longer correct or never were. And that applies to the Canadian press as well as our “friends” in the media here in the states.

Thursday is Canada’s 15th annual March for Life and in anticipation the Toronto Star ran a piece that for all its snootiness grasped that the Movement in Canada is mirroring its American cousins in its youthfulness. Staff Reporter Wendy Gillis writes,

No longer just grey-haired activists holding signs outside abortion clinics,  the pro-life movement has undergone a savvy, youthful makeover. Viral video contests, slick marketing campaigns, podcasts and Facebook groups fly in the face of assumptions that all young people lean left and that opposing abortion is antiquated.”

 At the risk of stating the obvious, if pro-abortion youth were swarming the grounds around Parliament , all of these same qualities would be held up as evidence that they are “with it.” When pro-life young people use the tools EVERY young person is at home with, it’s a “makeover” that emphasize how sharp a contrast they are to out-of-date older pro-life counterparts.

But it is also true that Gillis does a good job talking with representatives of the pro-life organizations that are natural homes for young people. One, for example,employs 11 full-time staff, whose median age is 25. Youths have come in “droves” the past few years, we’re told.

Another youth-oriented organization focuses on supporting campus pro-life groups. Its own efforts have grown but there are  “more groups, more events, more high-profile guest lecturers.”

The pro-abortion movement in Canada is noticing the influx, too. After a dismissive put-down of older pro-lifers, Joyce Arthur, the executive director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, conceded there is “definitely there is a huge surge in young people being active in the anti-choice movement.”

So in addition to the truth that all young people are adept at using social media, why did they tell Gillis “social media is the latest recruitment tool, playing no small part in the growing number of young pro-lifers”? It’s because it is often the only exposure they get!

“The media likes to ignore pro-life issues. So the way that we get it out into the Internet sphere is to do our own coverage,” said one. “Posting or tweeting articles or videos puts pro-life issues in front of people who wouldn’t otherwise see them,” Gillis writes.

At the same time, Wayne Sumner, a University of Toronto professor emeritus, told Gillis “young people have been involved in the pro-life movement in every generation — ‘it’s nothing new,’ he said.” What’s different is how entrenched abortion seems to be in Canada.

Which did nothing to damper the enthusiasm of the young people interviewed by Gillis, who (like their American counterparts) consider themselves  “the survivor generation.”

“We grew up since the 1988 Morgentaler decision (when criminal laws regulating abortion were thrown out) and so I think that our generation is starting to question this,” one leader told Gillis. “A quarter of our generation lost their lives to abortion.”

And, unlike Prof. Sumner, they also see the possibility of change. The story ends with this:

“The hairline cracks are starting to form in the abortion consensus, and the more young people we throw at it, the bigger the cracks are going to get.”

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