UK Pro-Life Leader Tells International Conference: “We Will See the Culture of Life Take Root”

OTTAWA, Ontario, October 28, 2010 ( - "The most important achievement of the pro-life movement in Canada, in Europe, and in the world, is that we exist," said John Smeaton, director of the U.K.'s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, in Ottawa Thursday as the International Pro-Life Conference kicked off.

"The fact that the pro-life movement exists is far more important than any successes we may have enjoyed at the national or international level," he said. "What's most important is that our pro-life movement is well-established and it's growing," he continued.  "What's most important is that we're passing on our pro-life expertise to the next generation, … that we are passing on our knowledge of the truth about the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death, and about how respect for human life is rooted in the unchanging truth about human sexuality, about marriage as a lifelong union between a man and a woman, and about the inalienable right of parents and the family."

"If we are passing on those unchanging truths to the next generation, we will see the culture of life take root and abortion defeated in the years ahead," he concluded.

The star-studded conference, running from Thursday to Saturday at the Hampton Inn in Ottawa, is the first conference to be co-sponsored by, which joined the other co-sponsors, International Right to Life Federation (IRTL), Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), and LifeCanada.

Conference chair Karen Murawsky, who introduced the sponsoring organizations, noted that the last major conference in Ottawa was over 30 years ago - the 2nd Festival for Life in 1977, featuring Malcolm Muggeridge, among others.  Today's conference is happening at a time, she said, "when most people from '77 wanted to believe that the battle would have been waged and completed."

Smeaton, who welcomed the attendees on behalf of IRTL, said the conference is important not only for Canada, but for the world, because "the pro-life movement has been recognized at one of the highest levels in the Church as being there to respond to the greatest threat to humanity."  He was referring to a major talk given earlier this month by Cardinal-designate Raymond Burke, prefect of the Vatican's highest court, at Human Life International's World Prayer Congress for Life.

Monica Roddis of LifeCanada extolled the many major successes of the Canadian pro-life movement over the last year, such as the defeat of Bill C-384 (seeking to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide), the 12,500-strong turnout to the National March for Life, and the introduction of MP Rod Bruinooge's bill seeking to ban abortion coercion.

"Some of us oldies can feel a new day dawning in this land," she said.

John-Henry Westen, editor-in-chief of, shared how he was inspired by the witness of Msgr. Philip Reilly, founder of Helpers of God's Precious Infants, while at the recent World Prayer Congress in Rome.  Westen explained that Msgr. Reilly now suffers from skin cancer after doing pro-life sidewalk counselling in the sun decade after decade.  "His skin cancer is so bad it's eaten away part of his nose," he said.  Yet the pro-life stalwart carries on as normal, and gives no attention to his appearance at all.

Westen shared a vision that came to Msgr. Reilly at Ground Zero on September 11, 2001, after having witnessed the terrorist attack that day. The priest saw the employees at the World Trade Center that morning, getting coffee, feeling secure, followed by an image of the planes slamming into the towers.  Then he closed his eyes again and saw a little baby "in the safe environment of his mother's womb, and in comes the terrorist instrument from the abortionist, and the baby has nowhere to run, nowhere to hide and dies," Westen explained.

The conference continues Friday with a full line-up of talks by speakers such as Smeaton, Dr. Andre Bourque of Living with Dignity, teen pro-life speaker Lia Mills, and MP Rod Bruinooge.  In the evening, African American pro-life leader Dr. Johnny Hunter will speak about the importance of blacks to the pro-life movement in the U.S.

Saturday's speakers include Sr. Catherine Marie of the Sisters for Life; Brad Mattes, winner of a 2010 Emmy award for his show Facing the Life Head-On; pro-life pioneer Dr. Jack Willke; and renowned author and artist Michael O'Brien.

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