On May 8, 2014, I attended my third March for Life. This year was very different from the previous two, for reasons both positive and negative. First, I gave a short speech (http://otagainstabortion.wordpress.com/2014/05/08/13/) at the candlelight vigil, somehow pulling it off with only a week’s preparation. Second, I had the privilege of working behind the scenes with the CLC team, covering social media for most of the March events. However, it was the “little interruption” while I was tweeting from the rally on Parliament Hill that made the biggest impression.
Anyone who went to the March, or heard about it after the fact, knows about the pair of half-nude FEMEN activists who stormed the stage during a speech by Quebec archbishop Gerald-Cyprien Lacroix. The women shouted obscenities as March personnel tried to keep them away from the clergy. All I could do was stare…until one of them broke free from the man who was holding her back. She ran across the Hill stairs, shouting, before she tripped over my walker and half-sat, half-fell on top of me! I swear the young woman took advantage of the opportunity to flaunt her exposed top half for a few seconds, before scrambling to get away from the stage.
The whole incident lasted at most two minutes, but it felt much longer. In nearly four years of pro-life activism, I have encountered a fair amount of opposition. I’ve been spit on, called names, and sworn at, but I have never seen anything as intense as the behaviour of these women. I would not call it traumatizing, but I felt an odd sort of shock for the rest of the afternoon. I remember a CLC staffer asked how I was feeling. I could barely speak because I was laughing so hard. The only way I could process the situation was to recognise how absurd it was. “I can’t believe a half-naked feminist just SAT on me!”
I know the majority of pro-choice activists would not go to the same extremes as FEMEN. Yet I came away from the rally with new knowledge of what some people who oppose pro-life activities are capable of. It filled me with a renewed compassion and resolve. What had these women experienced that caused them to lash out so strongly? What consequences are we prepared to endure for sharing the truth? As strange as this sounds, I’m almost thankful to have encountered what one of my fellow activists has called “the worst kind of opposition,” since it gave me a chance to reflect on these things. Next time, though, I wish the radical feminists would keep their clothes on!