Antiabortionists gather for the National March for Life on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, May 10, 2012.
Credits: CHRIS ROUSSAKIS/QMI AGENCY
OTTAWA - Thousands of participants in the annual March for Life brought the issue of abortion back to the lawn of Parliament Hill on Thursday.
"I really think that the rights of the unborn are really important and are being ignored in this country," said a pregnant Mary Webb, adding she usually participates in the regional anti-abortion march in New Brunswick.
This year's national march picked up its theme of fighting "gendercide" from Conservative MP Mark Warawa's thwarted House of Commons motion.
Back in March, Warawa's party cut short his attempt to discuss the issue of choosing an abortion over the birth of a girl.
Still, the Vancouver-area MP managed to make a statement on it Thursday in the Commons.
"Female gendercide is the systematic killing of women and girls, just because they're girls," said Warawa. "The Medical Association of Canada revealed that this barbaric form of discrimination is occurring here in Canada. Mr. Speaker, the statement 'It's a girl' shouldn't be a death sentence."
Warawa joined several other Tory MPs and senators addressing the assembled crowd before it marched through downtown Ottawa, encouraging them to keep speaking out.
"I'm particularly excited to see so many young people in the crowd today, to know that this is an issue not just for the past, but for the future as well," said Conservative MP David Anderson.
Other participants focused on the issue of women being forced to undergo abortions in Canada.
"One thing I do know is that women are being bullied into abortion," said activist Feytene Grasseschi.
"They were bullied to abort, not bullied to keep."
She was one of 25 women who walked from Montreal to Ottawa to join the rally, symbolically marking the quarter century since the 1988 Supreme Court decision that "left a legal vacuum on abortion."
A count of the crowd by QMI Agency set the attendance of Thursday's rally at about 5,000.
The RCMP estimated a crowd of 12,000, while organizers said there were 15,000.
None of Thursday's events made any difference to Liberal MP Dominic Leblanc, who says he likes things as they are.
"People can protest, but that's not going to change my opinion (or) the opinion of Mr. Trudeau," said Leblanc.
NDP MP Niki Ashton responded to the rally by posing for a picture with a handful of abortion rights activists on Parliament's lawn, and posting the photo online to show "solidarity with her pro-choice sisters."