Walk and Rally for Life
Approximately 1,500 people participated
in the 18th Annual Walk and Rally for Life on Tuesday evening, 17thMay, making it the largest rally since 1998,
when abortion was legalised in Western Australia.
The evening commenced at
St Mary’s Cathedral with introductory comments from Dwight Randall,
President of the Coalition for the Defence of Human Life and Director of Life
Ministries. This was followed by the singing of “How Deep the Father’s Love”
led by the Heritage Concert Band from the Free Reformed Churches. Fr John
Piumatti then read a statement from the former Catholic Archbishop of
Perth, Barry Hickey, prior to leading the gathering in prayer.
Archbishop Hickey’s statement read:
I warmly greet all of you as
you publicly give witness to the sanctity of human life today. Although I
cannot be with you I am praying for you. I am also praying for those who oppose
you and refuse to acknowledge the truth about life from God. As John’s Gospel
puts it, “...men have shown they prefer darkness to the light” (John 3:19).
In these days when abortion
has become so entrenched in our society, your witness to life is absolutely
critical if attitudes are to change. You are a light shining in that darkness.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit may it shine evermore brightly. May God
bless you all.”
The gathering then walked
in procession from St Mary’s Cathedral in Victoria Square through downtown
Perth to Parliament House. At Parliament House Dwight Randall addressed the
Dear people gathered here
tonight, on behalf of the Coalition for the Defence of Human Life, consisting
of 16 pro-life organisations that have affiliated to work together, thank you
so much for participating in this, the 18thAnnual Walk and Rally for Life.
It is distressing to
consider the magnitude of the killing of unborn children in Western Australia.
Over the past 18 years unborn babies have been killed, with the sanction of the
state, at the average rate of 22 per day, or 8,000 per year.
May 26th, 2016 will
mark the 18thanniversary of the passage of the Acts
Amendment (Abortion) Bill 1998, the most callous piece of legislation that
has ever been passed by our parliament. Since then, some 149,000 children have
been robbed of life.
In 2015, the last complete
year for statistics, 8,105 unborn children were aborted. 580 abortions were
performed on babies over 12 weeks gestation—babies with little faces, arms and
legs, hands and feet, fingers and toes—miniatures of ourselves. 73 abortions
were performed at King Edward Memorial Hospital on babies at 20 weeks gestation
or later. It is likely that many of these babies were at or beyond the age of
viability, in other words, capable of survival outside of the womb.
We pause to mourn for these
149,000 children, who have been deprived of life. Eighteen years ago, when
abortion was legalised, we solemnly pledged to remember these little children
who were forgotten by this parliament, but will not be forgotten by us, now, or
In addition, our hearts go
out to the thousands upon thousands of women who have been harmed by abortion,
regardless of whether it was their choice, made easier by the passage of the
legislation, or whether they were pressured by others. We hope and pray that they
will come to find forgiveness and peace.
Will you please join with me
in a minute of silence as we mourn the loss of these 149,000 children, as we
remember their mothers, and others who have been harmed under this legislation?
With heads bowed, let us remember them, and let us pray for strength to
continue this fight until abortion is brought to a halt. In silence, let us
remember them …
After the minute of
silence, the gathering, led by Dwight, recognised the work of several
organisations that have faithfully extended compassionate help to pregnant
women. He said:
Often, when there is great
injustice, Christians rise up and offer compassionate solutions. Even prior to
the passage of our state’s abortion laws, compassionate and practical help was
already being provided to pregnant women.
You will remember that a
moment ago I said that in 2015, 8,105 unborn children were robbed of life. This
is a heartbreaking number, and yet is encouraging to know that the total number
of abortions dropped by 359 over the 2014 numbers, or almost 4 ½ percent. And
this, at a time when the population in WA was steadily rising.
Without a doubt, this is in
part because of the compassionate work of several organisations that have
played a crucial role in offering help to pregnant women in Western Australia.
Without their service, the toll of women harmed and children killed would be
substantially higher. We honour those who have faithfully stood for life.
We recognise the work of Peter
O’Meara and all those who have served with Right to Life Association WA. In
1976, Peter helped form the Right to Life Association W.A. and became
its President. Over the last 40 years, the association has run a counselling
service and provided practical help, in the form of food, clothing, housing,
furniture and baby equipment to many mothers, children and families. We honour
Peter and the team at Right to Life Association WA this evening.
We also recognise the work
of Brian Peachey and all those who have served with Pregnancy
Assistance. In 1996 Brian founded Pregnancy Assistance and became its
inaugural chairman. Over the last 20 years Pregnancy Assistance has faithfully
provided compassionate and practical support, including accommodation, to
hundreds of women. We honour Brian and the team from Pregnancy Assistance this
We also recognise the work
of Colleen Tapley and the people connected with Pregnancy and Life
Education Ministries. In 1996 Colleen founded the ministry and since that
time has led a compassionate organisation that has focused on helping
post-abortive women find peace with themselves and with God. We honour Colleen
Over the next minutes,
the work of Pregnancy Problem House, which began 30 years ago in 1986
and is about to celebrate its 30 anniversary, was focused on. A video of a
grateful young woman and her baby who had received help at the house was
screened. After that, Dwight presented an award to the founding coordinator at
Tonight, it is my pleasure
to present a Von Galen-Bonhoeffer Award to Lucy Musgrave. We often
admire men who displayed great courage like Clemens August von Galen and
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but perhaps we fail to appreciate the determination and
courage of women who are on the firing line dealing with abortion-vulnerable
women, day after day, and year after year. Lucy is one of these courageous
women, and we want to recognise her, and the organisation she has
served—Pregnancy Problem House—tonight. Her award reads:
“Lucy Musgrave is a worthy
recipient of the Von Galen-Bonhoeffer Award for Outstanding Leadership in the
defence of human life.
“For a quarter of a century
Lucy Musgrave was the backbone and heart of Pregnancy Problem House, where she
served as the founding coordinator.
“Lucy had been a young
single mother herself, and thus she had deep empathy for pregnant women, and
showed com-passion and gentleness to them. Many of these women embraced life
for their children, and found support for their families. Others experienced
healing after past abortions.
“Lucy was beloved by the team
at Pregnancy Problem House, whom she prayed for and encouraged as they
ministered to vulnerable women. She was an outstanding example of Christlike,
life-affirming compassion to every person with whom she came into contact.
“Through her 25 years of
service, Lucy Musgrave helped to establish Pregnancy Problem House as a major
agency for the defence of human life in Western Australia. She is eminently
worthy of this Award, to the glory of God!”
Following the award, the
keynote speaker, Joanne Cicchini was introduced. Joanne was a founding
member of 40 Days for Life in Perth and the person who organised this year’s
peaceful vigil. The text of Joanne’s speech is below:
My name is Joanne Cicchini
and I am the Vigil Coordinator and acting Director of 40 Days for Life here in
If you have not heard of 40
Days for Life, it is a global movement where people fast and pray outside
abortion clinics around the world. While outside of the clinic, tangible help
is also offered to women, men and families through different support agencies.
Due to these prayer vigils
across the world, thousands of lives have been saved, clinic workers have left
their jobs and abortion clinics have been closed down permanently.
Since we started 40 Day
prayer vigils in Perth in 2011, we know of at least 37 children who are alive
today because parents changed their minds right at death’s door. This is over a
full classroom of children and we are only there for 40 days out of 365! Imagine
if we were there every day?
One sign we used reads,
“Your Baby Needs a Hero”, which is obviously aimed at men. After reading this
sign two men went in to retrieve their wives.
One of the men came over to
us and said, “We have decided to keep our baby…we just wanted to come over and
thank you for being here.”
On another occasion, a young
woman who went into the clinic observed a man on his knees praying alone next
to a sign with a help number on it. As she was waiting in the waiting room, she
felt a sense of overwhelming love for her child and left the clinic. She did
not speak to the man, but recalled the phone number and turned up at the
Pregnancy Resource Centre two weeks later and found sanctuary for herself and
And now I want to share with
you just a bit about an early experience of mine. In 1994, when I was 20 years
old I lost my daughter Angel Lee at 22 weeks’ gestation due to immense stress
caused by domestic violence and alcoholism on the part of her father. I gave
birth to Angel who died moments later and couldn’t be resuscitated.
when I was in labour, I thought I was going to give birth to something that was
half blob, half human. Yet, she was fully developed, had the features of both
of her parents and was just the length of my forearm. After spending this time
with her, I understood then, the full humanity of an unborn child in the womb.
also understand what it’s like to go home with an empty womb.
forward many years later and I am standing in front of an abortion clinic
involved in prayer vigils and I meet a pregnant mum going into the clinic for
had so much in common! It was incredible and I felt like I was speaking to a
younger version of myself.
was able to share my story with her and explain the ways in which we could give
her free help and support. She began to cry and then laughed and gave me a huge
hug. I asked, “Do you want to get out of here”, to which she replied, “Yep,
let’s do it.” So I drove her home.
exchanged contact details and she took up the free help offered to her from a
local Pregnancy Resource Centre throughout her pregnancy and beyond.
was given the privilege of going to the hospital and holding her baby. I’m not
sure if I can adequately describe this feeling—to know how close this child was
to death and now to be holding and kissing this baby. It was like waiting for
my own child to be born! This child will be treasured and loved forever!
I ask you, “Who is going to offer sanctuary for these mothers and their babies
if we don’t?”
want to speak to the young people here for a moment. You need to be ready and
available to have the Pro-Life baton passed on to you. There are people in
their 80’s who have been doing this work for decades.
preparing for 40 Days and looking for volunteers, I noted that some of these
faithful people were unable to join in. A wife was having a hip replacement, a
husband died of cancer, and one of my shift marshals has cancer. This is the
final season of their lives, a time when they are entitled to rest, and yet
they continue to stand on the front lines.
people, it is time for you to put your convictions into action. It is easy for
society to form the impression that these old judgemental fuddy duddies are not
up with the times and they wouldn’t have a clue about young people these days.
I know if I saw young people quietly praying outside of an abortion clinic, it
would resonate with me and with many people. Young people, you can bring about
change! Please think about whatever skills and gifts you have and work hard to
turn around this culture.
Senator Joe Bullock then addressed the gathering. His edited speech is printed
on page 11 in this edition of Life
video was then screened in which Dr Rachel Carling-Jenkins spoke of her efforts
to stop late-term abortions in Victoria. (Sadly, the Victorian Legislative
Council voted down the Infant Viability Bill on a vote of 11 for, 27 against,
and two abstentions.)
Hon Nick Goiran, MLC, was the first of five Western Australian Members of
Parliament to address the gathering. He said:
am greatly encouraged to see a record number of people standing in the gap for
the unborn at the 2016 Annual Walk and Rally for Life. I commend the efforts of
the Coalition for the Defence of Human Life for persevering and co-ordinating
this rally since 1999.
my time in Parliament, I have had the opportunity to pursue the truth behind
post 20 week abortions with the goal of creating some accountability and
transparency, and with the aspiration of having less late term abortions. In
this quest I have uncovered that these late term abortions were being performed
beyond the intent of the legislation, namely for conditions clearly compatible
with life such as down syndrome, spinabifida, dwarfism and even an upper limb
was this discovery that led the now former Minister for Health to order the
creation of an annual report. The first such report was provided in August last
year. That is a win for accountability. Sadly, although I have had the
opportunity to read this report it has not been released to the public.
Accountability is weak whenever transparency is avoided. Self-reporting by the
panel who approves these late-term abortions cannot be considered authentically
accountable when the report itself remains secret.
intend to continue to press for the release of this report (and all future
annual reports) as only then will Western Australians be able to know whether
the law created in 1998 is currently being adhered to or not.
Members of Parliament who spoke included: Michelle Roberts, MLA, Member
for Midland; Peter Abetz, MLA, Member for Southern River; Margaret
Quirk, MLA, Member for Girrawheen; and Dr Graham Jacobs, MLA, Member
of Parliament who attended the rally but didn’t speak included: the Hon
Simon O’Brien, MLC, Member for South Metro; Matt Taylor, MLA, Member
for Bateman; Glenys Godfrey, MLA, Member for Belmont; Frank Alban,
MLA, Member for Swan Hills; Kate Doust, MLC, Member for South
Metropolitan; and Libby Mettam, MLA, Member for Vasse
of Parliament who were unable to attend the rally and sent their apologies
included: Hon Alyssa Hayden MLC, Member for East Metro; Bill
Johnston, MLA, Member for Cannington; Mr Ian Britza, MLA, Member for
Morley; Hon John Castrilli, MLA, Member for Bunbury; and Peter
Katsambanis, MLC, Member for North Metro.
The last speaker was not a Member of
Parliament, but the National Director and Senate candidate for Australian
Christians, Lindsay Cameron, who spoke of Australian Christians absolute
commitment to the sanctity of life.