Over 850 people participated in the 17th Annual Walk and Rally for Life on Tuesday evening, 12th May. It was a crisp, windless, beautiful night as people assembled at Florence Hummerston Park in the city to join in prayers for an end to abortion in Western Australia.
The evening commenced with introductory comments from Dwight Randall, President of the Coalition for the Defence of Human Life and Director of Life Ministries, followed by a Scripture reading and prayers for the city and the state. Dwight said:
On behalf of the coalition, which is made up of over a dozen organisations that work cooperatively on matters relating to the sanctity of human life, I thank each one of you for joining us this evening.
Tonight we have gathered to remember the 141,000 unborn children who have been deprived of life in Western Australia since abortion was legalised in 1998. It is hard to comprehend the size of this loss. It equals over 39 children per second over the next sixty minutes.
Many of the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and grandparents of these missing children continue to grieve their loss. For those of you here this evening, who may fall into this category, our hearts go out to you, and we pray that you will find comfort in this brief service.
Our purpose at this time, prior to our rally at Parliament House, is to implore Almighty God, through the working of the Holy Spirit, to instil the value of every human life into the heart of every person here tonight, indeed into the hearts of all Western Australians, and into our parliament, that it might amend the unjust laws to once again provide protection for unborn children.
The Scripture readings and prayers in this service will be offered by young people about seventeen years of age. This is particularly poignant as the first babies legally killed by abortion would have been turning seventeen this year—the age of those leading this service.
Accompanied by the Heritage Band from the Free Reformed Churches, the gathering joined together in singing, “How deep the Father’s love for us”. The brass instruments and hundreds of voices filled the park.
Then Trisha Huizenga, from the Association for Reformed Political Action read I Timothy 2:1-4:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
After that, several young people offered prayers for those in authority, for a culture of life and an end to abortion, for the Christian church, and for women and men faced with a crisis pregnancy. The service concluded with a blessing for all unborn children.
The crowd then walked quietly up St George’s Terrace past the Barracks Arch and on to Parliament House. Many held signs declaring “Abortion Stops a Beating Heart”, “Abortion Kills Children”, “Jesus Heals and Forgives”, and “Love Them Both”.
At Parliament House, Dwight Randall addressed the gathering. He said:
With the passing of time, it is easy to become desensitised to brutality and wrongdoing. What once shocked us and drove us to prayer and action can become something that ceases to trouble us unduly. This is certainly true concerning abortion, the deliberate killing of defenceless children in the womb.
It is most encouraging to see that you, dear people, have not become discouraged in this great battle to stop the killing of children in the womb. You may think that you are not making much of a difference. But, you are. By your presence here, you are standing in solidarity with hundreds of others before our state’s lawmakers on behalf of voiceless unborn children. Your voice is being heard this evening.
Are you aware that the number of abortions each year since 1998 has remained fairly static at around 8,000 per year, while the population in Western Australia has lifted substantially? In 2002 in Western Australia more than one in four pregnancies (25.96%) were ended by abortion. Last year, 2014, the abortion rate dropped below one in five pregnancies to 19.23%. If the rate had stayed at the 2002 level an additional 2,960 unborn children would have been killed by abortion last year.
There may be many factors contributing to this change but there is no doubt that you good people who attend this rally, and who speak in defence of unborn children when opportunities arise, are making a substantial and clearly visible difference. Pastors and priests who speak to their congregations about the sanctity of life are making a positive difference. Life affirming agencies that provide help to pregnant women (and their partners) faced with a crisis pregnancy such as Pregnancy Problem House and Pregnancy Assistance and Pregnancy Lifeline are playing a critical role. Through your presence, through your conversations, through sound teaching on the part of Christian leaders, through providing practical help and life-affirming support to pregnant women, one by one by one, minds are being changed, women are being spared the harm associated with abortion, and precious little lives are being saved.
On behalf of the Coalition for the Defence of Human Life, we recognise all the work that is being done, and we sincerely thank you for attending this rally tonight.
Concerning this rally, one MP wrote, “It is without doubt the single best time each year for the Pro-life community to peacefully protest our anti-life laws in WA.” He continued, “I can testify that it always proves to be thought-provoking and unsettling to pro-choice MPs. Perhaps more importantly it is the one time in the year that pro-life MPs feel genuinely united and encouraged.”
So, dear friends of the unborn present here tonight, thank you for your presence with us.
The gathering was then led by musicians from Grace Christian Reformed Church in singing the National Anthem. It sounded beautiful and would have been heard in the halls of parliament.
After singing, Dwight continued:
One of the darkest battles that the Coalition for the Defence of Human Life and other church and pro-life organisations ever fought took place in the early months of 1998.
The battle was waged against the parliament of Western Australia in its determination to legalise abortion. Thousands of people attended several public rallies right where you are standing now, to express their opposition to state-sanctioned abortion. Many pro-life MPs fought with all of their hearts to defeat the Acts Amendment (Abortion) Bill 1998, and when it became apparent that it would be passed into law, they fought to reduce its brutal impact. Sadly, the battle was ultimately lost with little ground being made.
At that time, as chairman of the 1998 rallies, I, along with thousands of others, solemnly pledged to never forget the children killed by abortion with state sanction, and to never cease to urge the parliament to pass laws that would once again provide unborn children with protection. For the past seventeen years we, and by that I mean the Coalition for the Defence of Human Life and all of you dear people gathered here this evening, have held fast to that solemn promise.
We are assembled here this evening to remember the 141,000 unborn children who have had their lives cut short. We again pledge to never forget these children who were utterly forsaken by this parliament.
In addition, we grieve for the tens-of-thousands of women who have been harmed by abortion, regardless of whether they were pressured by others, or if it was their choice, made easier by the passage of the legislation. We pray that they will find forgiveness and peace.
Please join with me in a minute of silence to remember the children, and to remember their mothers, and others who have been harmed under this legislation. You may wish to bow your heads and remember them, and to 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, Dwight continued:
Several years ago the Coalition for the Defence of Human Life instituted the Von Galen-Bonhoeffer Award to “recognise individuals, who by their courageous actions, inspire all of us to dedicate ourselves more fully to the great cause of the defence of human life from the onslaughts of the culture of death.”
The award is named after two heroes from the Nazi period—one Catholic, and one Protestant. It reflects the ecumenical nature of our Coalition and our Christian fellowship in the cause of defending life.
Speaking of each of these two men, the award states:
Clemens August von Galen 1878-1946
“As Catholic Bishop of Munster under the Nazi regime von Galen lived out his motto ‘neither praise nor threats will distance me from God’. He spoke out clearly against the Nazi euthanasia programme, despite the brutal response by the regime which sent many of his priests to their death in Dachau concentration camp.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945
“Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor and theologian who insisted on a confessing church free from Nazi influences. He actively denounced the Nazi treatment of the Jewish people. He was condemned to death for his involvement in rescuing Jews and died as a martyr on 9 April 1945.”
The Von Galen-Bonhoeffer Award for outstanding leadership in the defence of human life was then presented to two worthy recipients: Peter O’Meara, the founder of the Right to Life Association WA, and Ted Watt, WA coordinator of Right to Life Australia and the secretary of the Coalition for the Defence of Human Life. After receiving the awards, both responded briefly.
Dwight then continued:
The first babies killed with the approval of the State would have been turning seventeen this year. They would have been adolescents finishing high school and looking forward to the possibilities and challenges of adulthood. Many would have been thinking about careers and dreaming about love, marriage and children of their own.
A well-produced video depicting young people graduating from high school, obtaining their driver’s licences, contemplating entering into university and the like was shown with the words “DENIED” interspersed throughout, to represent the thousands of 17-year-olds who have been deprived of life with state sanction. This video was produced by 18 year old Win Marie Viljoen.
After that, Dwight introduced 18-year-old Cameron Macormic who spoke to the gathering:
I’m Cameron. I am a high school graduate of 2014. I’m working at my first job, and I’m excited about going to university next year. There are so many possibilities available to young adults in WA such as myself.
But for the past 17 years, WA has determined that abortion should be legal. So while our state has given opportunities to this generation of kids and young adults, by allowing abortion procedures to continue, our government has denied lifetimes of opportunity to countless others.
It’s been nearly two decades since abortion was legalised. As it continues, people from not only this generation, but the generation to follow will never be born. It’s appalling that this is how long abortion has been allowed to halt the potential of hundreds of thousands of children. Many of them would have been my age or close to it. They would be students, members of our communities and of the workforce, and they all could have been given the opportunities that life can give.
All that’s needed to keep this legislation from harming our state even more is our collective voice. There are so many ways to provide potential to our youth that don’t involve the ending of innocent lives.
Then, 18-year-old Emily Schinkel spoke:
Seventeen years ago in May 1998, abortion was legalised in Western Australia. Since then, over 141 thousand babies have been killed with the approval of the state. More than 4000 of these children would have been turning 17 this year in 2015.
At 17, teenagers are entering the world as young adults. Their strengths and talents are developing and they often begin to plan their journey in life. At 17, young adults begin to pursue their dreams, either in the workforce or in further study.
My name is Emily Schinkel and I am 18 years old. I am currently enjoying my studies at the University of Western Australia as a first year music student. After I finish my studies at university, I would like to become a teacher in order to encourage students to follow their own passion in music.
It deeply saddens me that thousands of young Western Australians about my age have not been given the same opportunity to realise their potential in life. Many of these young people may have had special skills that would have greatly contributed to our society.
Although it is sad that so many lives were lost, it is even more devastating that lives continue to be taken. Every day, the number of lives taken through abortion rises. It should be of utmost importance that every unborn child is given the same opportunities that we have been given, opportunities to learn, grow, love and give.
Those of us who have been given these opportunities should use them to encourage and love others who are struggling with thoughts about abortion or feeling grief over past loss. We should also use these gifts to speak out and be the voice of many young children not yet able to use their own.
Talitha Dall then addressed the gathering. Talitha’s talk entitled, “Incompatible with Life” is printed in full as a separate article of this edition of Life News.
The Hon Nick Goiran, MLC, Member for South Metropolitan Region, was the rally’s keynote speaker.
He encouraged the gathering by reiterating his belief that…
the “Rally for Life remains the single best tool for sending a very clear message to Members of Parliament in Western Australia that the state sanctioned killing of babies is intolerable and will not be forgotten. It is one of the few opportunities to collectively express a desire to see the law changed, but also a source of great encouragement to myself and my other pro-life colleagues.
Nick provided an update on the post-20 week abortion issue. He reported that Health Minister Kim Hames reported to him that late last year he had a productive meeting with the panel of six doctors (“the Panel”) who authorise late-term abortions at King Edward Memorial Hospital. He noted that while we should rightly be outraged by the poor reporting in the past, we should be encouraged that the Minister has demanded a new reporting regime which will see the first comprehensive report on post-20 week abortions delivered in August this year.
Nick stated that it was pleasing to learn of the drastic reduction of late-term abortions in 2014. He said:
Almost like clock-work we can expect 50 late-term abortions every year in WA. However, last year this has inexplicably dropped to 36. Whilst we grieve the 36 children lost, we celebrate the life of the 14 children saved in 2014.
In closing, he encouraged people to sign a letter requesting an investigation by the parliamentary Standing Committee on Education and Health relating to the abortion of unborn children at 20 weeks or later in pregnancy.*
Other Members of Parliament who spoke to the gathering included Margaret Quirk, MLA, Girrawheen; Frank Alban, MLA, Swan; Peter Abetz, MLA, Southern River; Matt Taylor, MLA, Bateman; Graham Jacobs, MLA, Eyre; and Bill Johnston, MLA, Cannington.
Members of Parliament who were present and supported the rally, but did not speak included Hon Kate Doust, MLC, South Metropolitan; Glenys Godfrey, MLA, Belmont; Hon Martin Pritchard, MLC, North Metropolitan; Hon Peter Katsambis, MLC, North Metropolitan; Libby Mettam, MLA, Vasse; Hon Liza Harvey, MLA, Scarborough; and Hon Alyssa Hayden, MLC, East Metropolitan.
Apologies were received from several Members of Parliament including Vince Catania, MLA, North West Central; Hon Liz Behjat, MLC, North Metropolitan; Michelle Roberts, MLA, Midland; Ian Britza, MLA, Morley; John Castrilli, MLA, Bunbury; and Senator Joe Bullock, Senator for WA. All told, fourteen Members of Parliament attended the Rally, with another six MPs sending apologies. This is one of the largest gatherings of pro-life MPs in defence of life in recent years.
*Life Ministries has included this letter in this edition of Life News. Please sign it and encourage others to do so. Then please return it to Life Ministries, 4/334 Wanneroo Road, Nollamara, WA 6061, by 31 July 2015.