A crowd which organizers estimated at nearly 3,000 people took to the streets of downtown Edmonton May 14 in support of the right to human life.

WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ

A crowd which organizers estimated at nearly 3,000 people took to the streets of downtown Edmonton May 14 in support of the right to human life.

Crystal Dean said the 14 hours she spent with her daughter Charity was one of the most beautiful experiences of her life.

WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ

Crystal Dean said the 14 hours she spent with her daughter Charity was one of the most beautiful experiences of her life.

June 1, 2015
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Two years ago Crystal Dean was pregnant with her sixth child. She thought her pregnancy was going well until her doctor told her there were serious complications.

Her unborn baby, she was told, had a heart defect as well as a lymphatic malformation of her neck. The doctor recommended the pregnancy be terminated.

"I remember feeling like my whole world was turned upside down," recalled Dean. "My doctor was a Christian so I was surprised that he would say that to me."

Dean, however, felt it was not up to her to take away life, so she gave birth to her daughter. She lived for 14 hours and died in Dean's arms. "The passing of my daughter in my arms was one of the most beautiful experiences I will ever have," she says.

Dean, a mother of five, was one of several speakers at the eighth annual March for Life from Churchill Square to the Alberta Legislature and back May 14.

Calgary Bishop Frederick Henry was the main celebrant at the Mass for Life at St. Joseph's Basilica.

WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ

Calgary Bishop Frederick Henry was the main celebrant at the Mass for Life at St. Joseph's Basilica.

Organizers estimated that nearly 3,000 people took part.

Calgary Bishop Fred Henry, who celebrated the Mass for Life at St. Joseph's Basilica prior to the march, said Christians are called to testify that human life is always sacred, always valuable, and must be defended, loved and cared for.

"We are opposed to abortion, physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia," Henry said. "We are for life and for the development of a culture of life and so we commit ourselves in prayer today to work constructively with all people and institutions who share our love for life."

Speaking at Churchill Square, Archbishop Gerard Pettipas of Grouard McLennan said life is a gift from God than can only be taken by God.

It was a crowd of mainly young people who took part in the eighth annual Alberta March for Life.

WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ

It was a crowd of mainly young people who took part in the eighth annual Alberta March for Life.

The archbishop described the march as an act of gratitude to God for that gift and prayed that in our society "we develop respect for life from conception to natural death."

In her talk, Dean said she saw several specialists, all of whom told her that due to the nature of the complication, her child would live less than 24 hours.

"Each one suggested we terminate the pregnancy. We went to see them often to track the progression, and the suggestion to terminate came every single time."

The Deans, however, were firm that "we would allow our child's life to unfold as God had planned."

When she learned that the baby was a girl, she named her Charity. As the doctors continued to recommend ending the pregnancy, Dean came to understand why women in her condition abort their babies.

"It's because that's the only recommendation given to them over and over again," she said.

Archbishop Gerard Pettipas

Archbishop Gerard Pettipas

Through her experience, Dean learned of organizations that help women with her condition. "So why wasn't I offered the support of those organizations from the medical community?"

Dean delivered her baby through a C-section with a large team of specialists in the room. "They all wanted to be there just in case she came out and had a better prognosis than what they had expected."

Charity was born at 3:09 p.m. on May 28, 2013. She could breathe on her own, which was a pleasant surprise, but all the other complications were still there.

"We were given a private room and we were able to hold her, sing, pray with her and enjoy her while we could. She seemed so healthy and vibrant when she was born."

As the hours passed, Charity began to struggle to breathe. Finally everybody in the room fell asleep but Dean. "I held her against my skin and told her that I loved her and asked Our Lady to escort Charity into heaven. She died shortly after in my arms.

Ashton Brodniansky and Kiara Stark, both 14 and from Leduc, were among the participants in the March for Life May 14.

WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ

Ashton Brodniansky and Kiara Stark, both 14 and from Leduc, were among the participants in the March for Life May 14.

"I had a profound sense of peace and happiness. The passing of my daughter in my arms was one of the most beautiful experiences I will ever have and I would not trade those 14 precious hours for anything."

Dean said she cannot imagine the regret she would have if she had not given Charity life. "I wish that women would be encouraged to be brave. Their choice to follow the will of God will be tremendously rewarded."

Many young people took part in the march, including the Grade 8 class from Christ the King School in Leduc.

"We are here to raise awareness about abortion and to tell people abortion isn't the right choice," said Kiara Stark, 14. "Adoption is a much better choice."

Nakayla Williams of Spruce Grove and seven of her siblings attended both the Mass and the march.

"We are marching to preserve life, trying to show people that abortion isn't the answer," said Williams, 17. "There are a lot of different answers. Adoption is an answer.

"There are so many different support programs if you want to keep your baby. The Back Porch is one place where you can go. They offer counselling and support and options for young mothers."