Catholic Vancouver July 23, 2018

End of an era as pro-life leader passes the torch

By Agnieszka Ruck

Members of We Need A Law at the 2018 March for Life. The president of United for Life B.C. has announced his pro-life organization is closing and he is throwing his support behind We Need a Law.

After decades of political pro-life advocacy, United for Life B.C. is handing on its pro-life work to the next generation.

“What started with trying to prevent the first Prime Minister Trudeau from ushering abortion into Canadian culture has progressed to preventing the second Prime Minister Trudeau from enshrining the killing of unborn children as a Charter right,” said president John Hof in a letter to supporters announcing the closing of United for Life B.C. 

While “UFLBC was necessary for a season,” he said, it’s time to move on.

United for Life was born as the B.C. chapter of Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) more than 35 years ago. At its height, it had nearly 2,000 individual members plus partnerships with various churches, organizations, and pro-life groups across the province.

With a focus on political change, its members rallied against abortion, made presentations to parliamentary committees, supported the nominations of pro-life candidates, and ran outdoor protests of abortion clinics that had many of them arrested.

ULFBC president Hof (left) with the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. (Photo submitted)
Various pro-life activists with Hof (centre) in an undated photo. (Photo submitted)

Hof, who quit his job in 1994 to pursue pro-life activism full-time, was himself arrested and sentenced to 21 days during a protest CLC called Operation Rescue.

“Up to 250 people, if not more, were arrested and jailed in Vancouver alone,” and “many of those people were members of Campaign Life Coalition B.C.”

The group changed its name to United for Life B.C. after a disagreement with CLC over gestational legislation six years ago. B.C. supported legislation that would restrict abortions past a certain point in pregnancy while the national organization held out for a total ban.  

Now 68 years old, Hof said he is “not retiring quite yet,” but it is time for UFLBC to close and for its members to back other pro-life initiatives.

“This isn’t an end to the work. This is the beginning of a new frontier,” he said. He is throwing his support behind We Need A Law and Right Now, both pro-life political advocacy groups.

John Hof. (BCC file photo)

WNAL director Mike Schouten calls it the end of an era.

“John Hof has been a huge mentor for me. He is a very valuable person to bounce ideas off and encouraged me when we first started the We Need a Law campaign in 2012.”

Schouten is grateful for Hof’s support, both in WNAL’s inception, and now as United for Life moves on. “It allows him to pass the torch knowing that the work he has started and has been toiling over the past few decades will continue.”

Right Now co-founder Alissa Golob told The B.C. Catholic she would not be involved in the pro-life movement without people like Hof.

“The younger generation are truly standing on the shoulders of giants, and I admire and am thankful for everything that John has done for not only the movement as a whole, but for women and for children across the country,” she said.

“Because of his friendly, savvy, and sociable demeanour, he has made in-roads politically in B.C that make it seamless for us to use to communicate and help pro-life politicians across the province. When a pro-life law is finally passed in Canada, it will be because of John and others who were not only effective during their time in the movement, but helped and encouraged the new generation to be as strategic and effective as possible.”

Alissa Golob at the 2018 March for Life in Victoria. (BCC file photo)

Hof emphasizes he is not leaving pro-life activism yet.

“I won’t stop networking with our elected political representatives at all levels of government. I will continue searching for pro-life candidates to support through the nomination and election process, and especially I will be using my time to partner with We Need a Law and Right Now.”

He urges his members, some of whom faced short prison sentences for their activism in the 1990s, to do so as well.

“Most of the time, we did not know what we were doing. We did things simply because they were the right thing to do,” he said.