March for Life in Victoria attracts hundreds amid U.S. abortion debate

Hundreds marched in B.C.'s capital Thursday as part of the annual March for Life rally, which took place as a heated debate rages in the United States about an expected court decision overturning a person's right to abortion.

Many of those attending carried signs and prayed as they took to the legislature steps.

Father Thomas Lynch told the crowd the fight against abortion is not over.

"How often have you been told shut up the debate's over, lie down, it's done?" he asked the crowd, before lamenting that “woke culture” had taken over.

Holding pro-choice signs at the demonstration were two NDP MLAs: Bowinn Ma and Aman Singh.

Grace Lore, the parliamentary secretary for gender equity told CTV News the rules here are different and ending abortion rights wouldn't be easy.

"The decision that we're seeing in the states won't happen here,” she said. “Not us, not now, and not ever.”

In a statement, BC Liberal leader Kevin Falcon said the party supports a woman's right to choose abortion and will fight against attempts to restrict or revoke that right.

No current Liberal MLAs were seen at the event, although former MLA Laurie Throness – who resigned from the party ahead of the 2020 election – did attend.

Advocates fighting for better access to abortions and contraception point out while abortion is legal, many barriers still exist when it comes to reproductive rights.

Dr. Teale Phelps Bondaraff is a co-founder of Access B.C. He said the costs for contraception can be immense, and then there are additional challenges.

"If you live in a rural or remote community, you have to pay for transportation to and from a clinic. You have to pay for child care if you have children, take time off work or school, and those costs all add up," he told CTV News.

Asked about the NDP government's work to increase abortion access, Lore pointed to a 2018 change that provided the abortion pill Mifegymiso for free.

"There's still work to do, especially in rural and remote areas, but the access to medical abortion free and available at pharmacies is huge," said Lore.