OTTAWA -- Political leaders in Ottawa insist the abortion debate is closed, but thousands of people who marched on Parliament Hill Thursday begged to differ.
The 15th annual March for Life saw parents, grandparents and large swaths of high school students calling on the feds to ban abortion in Canada.
"Science and medicine are teaching us more about the distinct personhood of the child in the womb," said Bruce Clemenger, president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. "You have heard it said that the debate over the protection of the unborn is over. I say look at this crowd."
A handful of Tory backbenchers attended the rally, including, Stephen Woodworth and Jeff Watson from Ontario, Rod Bruinooge from Manitoba, John Williamson from New Brunswick and Kevin Sorenson from Alberta.
"I want to thank my daughter's birthmother for giving me the opportunity to raise Kristen," Sorenson told the crowd, speaking of his now adult child. "It's an honour to stand for life and if you think that I'm making a vocal stand, you should meet my daughter."
In previous years, Liberal MPs also spoke to the crowd, however, there are fewer Grits in the House this year. Defeated Liberal MP Pat O'Brien was an MC for the event and his former colleague, Tom Wappel, also attended the rally.
Many said they were encouraged by Woodworth's current private member's motion to study when human life begins.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has called the motion "unfortunate," vowed to oppose it in the House and never reopen the abortion issue.
After a prayer and speeches, the group marched through downtown and returned to the Hill to hear from women from the Silent No More campaign.
Holding black signs reading "I Regret My Abortion" and shivering against a strong north wind, women shared intensely personal stories of grief and regret over loudspeakers, their voices echoing down the busy streets of the city.
Organizers say more than 19,000 people attended, while the RCMP report more than 10,000. QMI Agency estimated approximately 15,000, the largest annual protest in the capital.