In spite of the inclement weather, approximately 1,500 people attended the 19th annual Rally for Life on Tuesday evening, 23rd May 2017. This year’s rally was one of the largest since 1998, when abortion was legalised in Western Australia. People of all ages attended, including hundreds of young families and young adults, which bodes well for the future of the pro-life movement in Western Australia.
The Rally for Life commenced with a brief service including Scripture readings, prayers, music and a testimony. Dwight Randall (President of the Coalition for the Defence of Human Life and the Director of Life Ministries) welcomed everyone and then said:
We have chosen to begin this evening by appealing to God to bless our humble efforts in the defence of human life, to the point that abortion will become unthinkable in our lives.
We have invited three Christian leaders to read brief passages from Scripture that teach the incalculable worth of human life. After reading from God’s word, each will lead us in prayer. Please listen and pray with Archbishop Emeritus Barry Hickey, Pastor Ken Lee from Nations Church, and Rev Stephen ‘t Hart, from the Free Reformed Church of Baldivis.
Archbishop Emeritus Barry Hickey’s prayer reflected on Genesis 1:27-28 which reads, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’” Archbishop Emeritus Hickey prayed:
Eternal Father, Creator and Lord of the universe, we thank you for the love you shower down on us each day.
Tonight we pray earnestly for the protection of the life that you have created, especially for human life made in your image and likeness. Human life is precious, it is sacred, it has been given a special destiny because of your love for us.
Lord, we ask you to send your Spirit among our lawmakers to ensure that the right to live and to thrive, be protected from the beginning of life in the womb till the end of this earthly journey.
We pray too for those women who have suffered because of abortion. Heal them Lord, and help them to offer their new found wisdom to others who may be closed to your truth. May all come to understand that every child in the womb, every mother and every father is loved by you and that they need to have no fear.
Send your Spirit and your grace to all here present that we may remain steadfast in our efforts to proclaim your truth with love, mercy and true justice.
We ask this in the Holy Name of Jesus. Amen.
Pastor Ken Lee’s prayer reflected on Psalm 139:13-16, which reads, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvellous—and how well I know it. You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book.” Pastor Lee prayed:
Heavenly Father, we thank you for this opportunity to gather tonight on the steps of our state’s Parliament House. We thank you for the gift of life. We acknowledge you as the giver of all life and that before we were born you knew us. We acknowledge that you see purpose and destiny in every human soul that you create … from the moment of conception in the mother’s womb until the day we graduate to eternity …
We pray that you would unite our hearts as your church and your people, around your love for all life—the lives of mums and dads and children … and the lives of the unborn. Help us to find our voice for the ones that have no voice. Help us to be courageous enough to stand and say that the lives of the unborn are significant in your eyes and must be protected.
We pray that you would equip and enable us to show great compassion and support for every woman who is affected by unexpected pregnancy, for every family that finds itself in a difficult circumstance or untold hardship. May we be Christ to them. May we show them the hope that we have in you.
Father we pray that you would move on the hearts of our lawmakers and legislators toward the value of the unborn and those who cannot stand and have a voice for themselves like we can tonight … We ask that your grace and your wisdom would guide their decisions and their responses to this issue of abortion in our community. We pray that they would have the courage to do what is right and just. We pray these things in the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Reverend Stephen ‘t Hart’s prayer reflected on Luke 1:41-45 which reads, “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!’” Reverend ‘t Hart prayed:
Heavenly Father and the giver of life, we thank you that your Son, Jesus Christ, could be born into this world. We thank you for the gift of motherhood and for the marvellous wonder of a baby moving in his mother’s womb.
As we and the people of the state of Western Australia reflect on the blessing of children, we pray that we may all have a right understanding about the sanctity of human life, and that every child conceived is a unique person. We pray for compassion, that hard hearts may be made soft, both for the plight of unborn children and for the mothers who carry these children.
We thank you for those in government who do respect the sanctity of human life and are doing what they can to protect it. We pray that our government will not be deaf to their cries, nor to the cries of the unborn, but will enact just laws and repeal unjust laws for the good of our people and for your glory. In Jesus’ name we pray this. Amen.
The Scripture readings and prayers were followed by a beautiful item written and sung by Alicia Kapel and accompanied on guitar by Matthew O’Donoghue.
Teneil Anderson then spoke to the gathering. Her edited speech titled, “Unwanted but not aborted” is posted on this site.
After Teneil spoke, Alicia concluded the service by leading the gathering in the singing of “How Great Thou Art”.
The direction and tone of the gathering then shifted to the business of the rally.
Dwight formally welcomed everyone, including the following Members of Parliament: Kate Doust, MLC; Nick Goiran, MLC; Bill Johnston, MLA; Tony Krsticevic, MLA; Simon O’Brien, MLC; Martin Pritchard, MLC; Kevin Michel, MLA; Margaret Quirk, MLA; and Michelle Roberts, MLA. Dwight said:
A very warm welcome to all of you. My name is Dwight Randall. I am the Director of Life Ministries and the President of the Coalition for the Defence of Human Life—the organisation which runs these rallies each year.
The coalition is made up of the following organisations: 40 Days for Life; Association for Reformed Political Action; Australian Christian Lobby; Australian Christians (Party); Australian Family Association; Christian Reformed Churches; Endeavour Forum; FamilyVoice Australia; Helpers of God’s Precious Infants; Life Ministries; National Civic Council; Pregnancy Assistance; and Westminster Presbyterian Church. On behalf of the Coalition, I thank each of you for attending this rally tonight. Dwight continued:
I want to start by providing a brief historical background for those of you who are young, or who may not have been attending these rallies for many years.
You may not know that throughout much of the 1900s the Criminal Code of Western Australia provided protection to unborn children. The old laws contained in the Code reflected a more compassionate and just society, where unborn children were viewed as precious and worthy of protection. Throughout the first half of the 20th century several doctors who performed illegal abortions were prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned.
By the 1960s, however, the laws prohibiting abortion were increasingly overlooked and prosecutions ceased. Successive governments from both major parties abandoned unborn children while they were aborted in their thousands year after year.
Even then, the old laws had a restraining effect, for most people knew that abortion was illegal, and concluded that if it was illegal, it must be wrong. Doctors still worried that they could be charged and possibly imprisoned, and this impacted their actions.
Then, in 1998, something terrible took place in the chambers of the Western Australian Parliament. It wasn’t simply that the old law which protected children continued to be ignored. No, it was much worse. A new law was debated and enacted which gave state approval to the killing of unborn children for any reason whatsoever during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, and in some cases, even beyond that. The new law marked a deadly watershed in the history of this state. It marked Western Australia as an inhumane society—a society which has lost its most basic sense of justice and entered into a very dark era.
It was one of the most distressing times in the lives of many of us who witnessed the passage of the new law. We did all that we could to stop it, to no avail.
And we made a solemn promise at that time. We made a promise to never forget the children who would be killed under this new law, and so for the past 19 years we have assembled annually at Parliament to remember them, to mourn their loss, and to plead with the Parliament to reverse the most heartless piece of legislation it ever enacted.
This Friday will mark nineteen years of legalised abortion in Western Australia. During that time approximately 157,000 unborn children have been robbed of life.
Included in that total are 26 children at 20 weeks gestation or later who were born alive after surviving abortion procedures at King Edward Memorial Hospital. These babies were not offered care, but left to die. The Hon Nick Goiran will be talking to us about his ongoing efforts to uncover in-formation about these babies who survived abortion, but were then left to die.
The theme of this year’s Rally for Life is “Be a voice for the missing generation”, and that is what you are. You are a voice for the 157,000 children who cannot speak for themselves. Together, we plead with the Parliament to hear our cry on their behalf.
Dear Friends, dear Members of Parliament, what would these children say to the Members of this Parliament if they could speak—the almost 80,000 girls and 80,000 boys who would now range in age up to eighteen years old—what would they say?
I believe that they would ask the MPs who voted in favour of the legislation, “Why did you betray us? Why did you support a law that would result in our deaths? You gave doctors permission to kill us by the thousands, with scalpels, suction and poison. God is our witness to your mercilessness.”
And they would say to those now serving in Parliament who believe in the most fundamental right of all, the right to life itself, “For the love of precious children, please do all in your power to stop this holocaust. Bring this brutality to an end.”
Dear friends, nineteen years ago we solemnly pledged to never forget these innocent children who were forsaken by this parliament. Today, once again, we remember them.
Dwight then handed over to Michelle Pearse, who co-chaired the rally. (As well as being a wife and mother of three, Michelle has been active in political advocacy on issues of life and ethics for 10 years. She is the former spokesperson on women’s issues for the Australian Christian Lobby and currently works as a research officer for a Member of Parliament.) Michelle said:
Tonight, we are gathered here to remember the 157,000 unborn children who have been robbed of life under this heartless legislation that was passed nineteen years ago. Will you please join with me in a minute of silence to remember the missing generation who have been robbed of life, and to remember their mothers, and others, who have been harmed under this law? You may wish to bow your heads and remember them, and pray for strength to continue this fight until abortion is brought to a halt. In silence now, let us remember them.
After the minute of silence, Michelle introduced Belinda Manzoney. Belinda’s edited speech titled, “The doctors said my baby would be born non-viable” is posted on this site.
Dwight then introduced the Hon Nick Goiran, MLC. Nick is one of the most influential and tenacious supporters of the sanctity of human life in the Parliament. He spoke about babies born alive after abortion. Nick’s edited speech titled, “About babies born alive after abortion” is posted on this site.
(A petition titled, “In relation to induced premature births in Western Australia” was then distributed throughout the gathering, with close to a thousand people signing on the night.)
Michelle then introduced the keynote speaker, Paul Russell, the Director of HOPE, an organisation opposed to euthanasia and assisted suicide. His edited speech titled, “Thou shalt not kill” is posted on this site.
Dwight then introduced Margaret Quirk, MLA. Since being elected to Parliament in 2001, Margaret has been a faithful advocate in defence of human life from conception to natural death. Margaret spoke briefly. Among other things, she said:
We need to continue to fight to protect life, whether it is before birth or at the end of life.
She then read a portion of a letter that she received from the Parliamentary Friends of Palliative which stated:
“The distinction between palliative care and euthanasia needs to be understood very clearly. Palliative care does not hasten nor prolong death, but ensures the patient’s comfort and dignity during the terminal phase. Euthanasia, on the other hand, is the deliberate killing of the patient.”
Margaret concluded her talk by mentioning a possible bill on euthanasia that could be introduced to the parliament by saying:
I thank you for your support for the sanctity of life, and I hope that by next year, that bill is no more than a thought bubble.
Michelle Pearse then talked to the hundreds of young people at the rally, urging them to become part of a powerful and effective young people’s pro-life movement that is committed to shifting our culture to a view that honours the sanctity and preciousness of every human life. Many young people indicated interest on the evening. This bodes well for the future of pro-life activism in Western Australia.
After this Dwight thanked everyone and the rally closed.
A video of the entire rally can be viewed at: www.facebook.com/familyvoiceaustralia/videos/1101232746643913/ .
Photographs for this article were taken by Andrew Lansdown and Stephen White.