By John Jalsevac
OTTAWA, ON, May 8, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A massive crowd of pro-life demonstrators, the majority of whom were youth, gathered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa today to issue a call to legislators and Canadians as a whole to put an end to abortion in Canada. An estimate given by a police officer to Campaign Life Coalition president Jim Hughes was that a record-breaking crowd of 8,000 people participated in this 11th annual March for Life. Several other crowd-counters came up with almost identical numbers, making the 2008 March the largest March in the history of the pro-life event.
The day’s events began with a Protestant prayer service and a Catholic Mass, the latter of which was held at Notre Dame Basilica and celebrated by Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast. The Archbishop also later attended and walked in the March. The Basilica, which can hold a capacity crowd of 1200, was packed to the rafters, to the point where not only were all the seats filled, but even standing room gave out and people had to be turned away from the Church.
After the prayer events, pro-life demonstrators began gathering on Parliament Hill beginning at noon under a cloudy sky and cooler-than-average temperatures – the day’s projected high was a mere 12 degrees Celsius, or 52 Fahrenheit. The sky itself threatened rain, but as the speeches progressed the clouds cleared and as the March got underway participants walked under largely sunny skies.
Witnesses said that the mood on the Hill was extremely jubilant. David McDonald, the one-time Broadway performer turned pro-life, Christian musician, led the crowd in his repertoire of songs, with which the crowd enthusiastically sang along. As the speeches got underway a group of about 8 pro-abortion activists walked up close to the stage and heckled the speakers, shouting obscenities and pro-abortion slogans. The hecklers attempted to interrupt the testimonies of the women from Silent No More Campaign, but witnesses say that the more the hecklers tried to interrupt, the louder and more enthusiastically the crowd cheered the women on.
A number of MPs attended the March, including Pierre Lemieux who was accompanied by his wife and kids.
Former MP Pat O’Brien, in introducing the various MPs who were present, told the assembled crowd, “This is consistently the largest demonstration to come to Parliament.”
Dr. Alveda King, daughter of civil rights activist Rev. A. D. King, and niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. participated in 2008 March for Life events. King says she knows only too well the injustice of denying the most basic civil right, the right to life, to any innocent person and sees abortion as the civil rights issue of the 21st Century.
“In my country, black women are three times as likely to have abortions as white women,” says Dr. King. “While African Americans are about 12% of the population, we suffer 36% of the abortions. It’s as devastating as if a plague came into the land and killed one of every four African Americans. I can tell you as a woman who aborted two of her own children, that there is nothing good that comes from abortion.”