Saturday, 26th May 2018 marked a very sad day—the 20th anniversary of the legalisation of abortion in Western Australia. In spite of extremely wet and blustery weather in the days leading up to the rally, and on the day of the rally itself, approximately 1,500 people braved the weather to attend one of the most memorable rallies to date. Upon arriving at the Supreme Court Gardens, people were confronted with a visually moving reminder of the terrible loss of life—3,300 white crosses in the form of a giant cross, each cross representing 50 unborn children legally killed since 1998. The following is a slightly edited version of the 20th Annual Rally for Life. Dwight Randall welcomed everyone. He said:
Dwight: 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; Family-Voice Australia; Helpers of God’s Precious Infants; Life Ministries; Medicine With Morality; National Civic Council; Pregnancy Assistance; and Westminster Presbyterian Church. On behalf of the Coalition, I thank each of you for attending tonight.
It is a pleasure to be co-chairing the Rally for Life tonight with Maryka Groenewald. Maryka is the West Australian State Director of Australian Christians, but more importantly, she is a devout Christian woman who is deeply committed to the understanding that every human life is precious and should be protected by any society that is just and compassionate. Please welcome Maryka.
Maryka: Thanks Dwight. What a great gathering! We had fully intended to express heartfelt thanks before this gathering to many people who have contributed in a significant way to making this rally a success. But we were informed that they would prefer to remain anonymous, including the young man who proposed the idea of the crosses and then worked so hard to see that vision become a reality. While not being too specific, we thank the Free Reformed Churches of the Perth Area who donated the cross display. It was put together by various youth groups of this church association, with the assistance of a number of cabinet making and construction businesses. Please join with me in expressing thanks to these people.
It is my pleasure to introduce Isabelle Lindsey, who will briefly talk about LifeChoice, a pro-life group that has been recently established in WA and is active in universities.
(Isabelle’s edited talk, “Calling University Students” can be read on this site.
Maryka: We welcome each of the Members of Parliament who have joined us this evening. Please put your hands together for The Hon Michelle Roberts, MLA; the Hon Kate Doust, MLC; Margaret Quirk, MLA; and Bill Johnston, MLC. In addition, although he is no longer serving in Parliament, please welcome our faithful former MP and pro-life friend, Peter Abetz.
We have statements from several Members of Parliament who, due to conflicts in scheduling, are unable to join us tonight. They include the Hon Nick Goiran, MLC; the Hon Simon O’Brien MLC; the Hon Michael Mischin, MLC; the Hon Donna Faragher, MLC; the Hon Colin Holt, MLC; the Hon Dr Mike Nahan, MLA; and the Hon John Quigley, MLA.
Dwight: Shifting from Members of Parliament to members of the clergy, we have received an apology from a person who has attended many of our rallies. Archbishop Emeritus Barry Hickey has written a statement for us. Tonight, we are recognising several people who have faithfully opposed the killing of unborn children over the past 20 years since abortion was legalised in this state, and sometimes well before that time, but more than that, who have offered compassionate assistance to pregnant women.
Archbishop Emeritus Hickey is such a person, and tonight we welcome Brian Peachey, a co-founder of the Coalition for the Defence of Human Life, the President of the coalition for several years, the founder of Pregnancy Assistance and a dear friend of the Archbishop to read his letter to this gathering. Please welcome Brian.
Brian, reading the Archbishop’s message:
I greet you all in the name of Jesus our Lord and Saviour.
I am very sorry I cannot join you tonight and stand with you here at the Supreme Court Gardens to give strong witness to the sanctity of all human life.
We live in difficult times when anti-life lobbies, with their privileged access to the media, pursue their agenda with relentless force, seeking to claim the victory and silence all others.
We may not have the same access to the media, which is often unsympathetic to our cause, but we do have a truth to give and the power of the Holy Spirit to help us proclaim it from the rooftops.
Be assured that our good news about life, marriage and true love is good news for the whole world. Let us hope and pray that not too much more damage is done before ears are once again open and hearts are moved to accept and live the truth, a truth which comes from the very Creator of the universe.
Today we pray for those who make and change our laws that they will listen to our message and accept its urgency and vital importance.
May God bless each one of you.
Most Rev B J Hickey, Archbishop, Emeritus of Perth
Maryka: Today, Saturday, 26th May 2018 marks a very sad day—the 20th anniversary of the legalisation of abortion in Western Australia. Over the last 20 years 165,000 Western Australian children have been deprived of life with the sanction of the state. But, not all Members of Parliament supported the legalisation of abortion. One Member of Parliament who is present tonight spoke and voted against it 20 years ago. That person is the Hon Michelle Roberts, MLA. We honour her tonight.
Another person who cannot be with us tonight also fought against the 1998 legislation. That person is the Hon Simon O’Brien. In his absence we honour him.
And there are other Members of Parliament with us tonight, including The Hon Kate Doust, MLC, and Margaret Quirk, MLA who have faithfully voted in defence of life. We honour them also.
At this time we will be presenting each of these Parliamentarians with a William Wilberforce Award. In order to provide you with some understanding of the deep significance of the award, we invite Andrew Lansdown, a poet and writer, to speak about the award at this time.
(Andrew’s speech entitled, “Introduction to the William Wilberforce Awards” can be read on this site at https://lifeministries.org.au/william-wilberforce-awards/)
Dwight: The first William Wilberforce Award is being presented to the Hon Michelle Roberts, MLA. “Queen Roberts”, please come and stand beside us! Her award reads:
“William Wilberforce Award. In recognition of 20 years of faithful service in defence of human life and the protection of unborn children in the Parliament of Western Australia this Award is presented to the Hon Michelle Roberts, 26th May 2018, signed by Dwight Randall, President, Coalition for the Defence of Human Life.” The bottom of the Award contains this quote from William Wilberforce in the House of Commons on 18th April 1791, “Whatever may be its success, I have attached my happiness to their cause, and shall never relinquish it.”
Michelle Roberts then received the Award, expressed thanks and spoke for a couple of minutes.
Maryka: The recipient of the second William Wilberforce Award, who has also faithfully defended the sanctity of life for over 20 years cannot be with us tonight. But he has written a statement to this gathering. The Hon Simon O’Brien, MLC, writes:
It is to our society’s continuing disgrace that it permits the lives of the unborn to be terminated because they are judged to be without value or because they are an inconvenience. It is similarly regrettable that this entrenched norm is unlikely to be reviewed in the foreseeable future.
Imminently, we will be asked to legislate a system to kill people “law-fully”, ostensibly as a form of “mercy killing”. This will not be the first time I will stand up to disagree with such a policy (I have literally lost count of how many times this proposal has been put forward) and I hope there are sufficient Parliamentary colleagues of like mind to once again defeat the idea. The fact that this time around the proposal has the full backing of the Premier is particularly concerning.
Please be assured that I retain my firm position in these matters. …
With best wishes,
Hon. Simon O’Brien MLC
Dwight: The recipient of the third William Wilberforce Award is unable to be with us tonight. For over a decade he has been a dedicated and courageous advocate on behalf of life, and those of us who attend these rallies each year have come to admire and to love this wonderful man. In relation to this award, the Hon Nick Goiran, MLC wrote an email to me that is worth sharing:
… I consider the [the William Wilber-force Award to be] the most prestigious award in WA politics. I will remain totally committed to defeating any proposed legislation that seeks to expand doctor’s current licence to kill at the beginning of life to the end of life.
In addition, it remains my highest priority to see babies born alive after an abortion afforded the same level of health care as other infants. There remains an enormous amount of work to be done. I am reminded we can do none of this in our own strength.
Maryka: The recipient of the fourth William Wilberforce Award is the Hon Kate Doust, MLC, who is with us this evening. Over the past 17 years since she was elected to Parliament, Kate has had a flawless voting record on matters relating to the sanctity of life. Please put your hands together for her.
Kate Doust then received the award, expressed thanks and spoke to the gathering for a couple of minutes.
Dwight: The recipient of the fifth William Wilberforce Award is Margaret Quirk, MLA. Like the Hon Kate, over the last 17 years Margaret has had a flawless voting record on matters relating to the sanctity of life. Please put your hands together for her.
Margaret Quirk then received the Award, expressed thanks and spoke for a couple of minutes.
Maryka: The recipients of the remaining William Wilberforce Award will be presented in person to the Hon Donna Faragher, MLC. Donna also has a flawless voting record. We will be presenting her award at a later date. That concludes the giving of these awards. Please put your hands together and express your heartfelt thanks to each of these Members of Parliament.
Dwight: As mentioned by Maryka, today marks a tragic day in the history of Western Australia—it marks 20 years of state-sanctioned abortion.
This is therefore, an appropriate time to reflect back in time. Please welcome Andrew Lansdown once again as he shares a little about what led to the legalisation of abortion 20 years ago. Andrew not only wrote about that terrible period, he is another person who has engaged in the battle for the unborn, well before the legislation, during the time when it was debated, and since that time.
Andrew then read his article, “A baby in a bottle”, which can be read on this site at https://lifeministries.org.au/a-baby-in-a-bottle/
Dwight: Thank you Andrew for telling a tragic story that many will never have heard. When Andrew speaks of the opposition to the two abortion Bills 20 years ago, he is speaking about the work of the Coalition for the Defence of Human Life. It was the Coalition for the Defence of Human Life that fielded a petition that tens-of-thousands of people signed. It was the Coalition that ran two public rallies, each attended by approximately 2,500 people. It was the Coalition that urged pro-life MPs to oppose the legislation, and supported them in their efforts to do so. I say these things because it is appropriate to recognise the faithful work of the Coalition for the Defence of Human Life and its affiliates over the past 20 years.
I chaired our first two rallies opposing the legalisation of abortion in early 1998, and have chaired every subsequent rally over the last 20 years. I say this because I believe that after 20 years of doing so, and growing a generation older, now may be the time to pass on this responsibility to a younger generation who will enthusiastically carry on this great battle for life for the next generation.
(A letter from the Hon Nick Goiran, MLC, was then read to the gathering. The letter entitled, “Letter from Hon Nick Goiran read at the 20th Annual Rally for Life” can be read on this site.
Maryka: We are gathered here today to remember 165,000 unborn children who have been robbed of life under the merciless legislation that was passed exactly twenty years ago today. That law marked a deadly watershed in the history of this state. It reflects a society which has lost its most basic sense of justice and entered a very dark era.
In 2017 there were 7,827 abortions in Western Australia. Included in that total were 78 children at 20 weeks gestation or later who were aborted at King Edward Memorial Hospital. Some were beyond the age of viability. Look at the 3,300 crosses that are laid out before you in the form of a giant cross. In order to represent each child who was killed by abortion last year, another 4,527 crosses would need to be added to that number.
It is difficult to fully comprehend the deaths of 7,827 children, never mind the deaths of 165,000 children. Look at the thousands of crosses before you once again. Those 3,300 crosses each represent, not one, but 50 unborn children, children created in the “image and likeness of God” who have been robbed of life over the past 20 years. These children were never given the chance to love, or to be loved in return.
Try to picture what over 80,000 girls and over 80,000 boys ranging from birth to 19 years of age would look like. The loss of these children should break our hearts.
It should cause us to redouble our determination to demand that our State’s brutal abortion law be reversed and replaced with a compassionate law that provides protection for both mother and child. Tonight, on the 20th anniversary of the legalisation of abortion, every one of us should vow to fight on with the same determination, perseverance and trust in God that William Wilber-force demonstrated.
And we should not allow ourselves to become discouraged. We are having an impact. The abortion rate in Western Australia is steadily dropping. It is at 18 per cent, down from the high of 26 per cent in 2001. While we should never be satisfied, even if one abortion is taking place per year, this is a significant drop.
Tonight, we are gathered here to re-member the unborn children who have been robbed of life under the heartless legislation that was passed twenty years ago. Will you please join with me in a minute of silence to remember these 165,000 children who have been robbed of life under this legislation over the past 20 years, 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 pray for strength to continue this fight until abortion is brought to a halt. In silence, let us re-member them.
After the Minute of Silence a musical item was presented by Pastor Joe Vermeulen and the music team from Grace Reformed Church in Joondalup.
Dwight: Rev Rex Gabrielson from Girrawheen Baptist Church, a pastor who has faithfully supported these rallies for many years by encouraging his congregation to attend, will now read to us from Genesis 1:26-28, and Genesis 4:1.
Rex: “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ 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.”
“Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, ‘With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.’”
Maryka: And now, what you have all been patiently waiting for. Our first keynote speaker tonight is Megan Ngatai. The theme of this year’s Rally for Life, as you will have seen on the banners, is “Love Them Both.” Megan is an example of this. Her life has become a wonderful testimony to every-one she encounters.
Megan then shared her experience of facing an unexpected pregnancy at just 17 years of age. Megan was pressured by many people to procure an abortion, but found help and support from staff at Pregnancy Problem House and people in her church. She talked about the sheer joy of motherhood, of falling in love and getting married. Megan is pregnant and eagerly anticipating the birth of her fourth child.
Maryka: Our second keynote speaker is the Executive Director of Living Alternatives Ltd., which operates five pregnancy crisis centres under the name Pregnancy Problem House. As I mentioned, our theme this year is “Love Them Both.” Michelle Macormic is going to provide some helpful suggestions about how each of us can do exactly that when we encounter young pregnant women who don’t know which way to turn.
(Michelle’s edited speech entitled, “Love Them Both” can be read on this site.
Dwight: We are going to conclude tonight by giving those who wish to do so an opportunity to place a beautiful deep red rose at a cross in remembrance of an unborn
Obviously, this is open to women who have had abortions, whether by their own choice, or whether under pressure to do so. I
t is open to all women who mourn the loss of their child.
There are 160 red roses, and these roses are not for them alone. They are also for others, for example those who may have pressured a wife or partner or child to abort, and now deeply regret doing so.
There are roses for those who were innocent of any wrong doing, but grieve at the loss of their child or grandchild, or nephew or niece, or whoever.
For those who are troubled by guilt as a result of wrong doing, as a Christian-based coalition, we believe that the only way to find true and lasting peace is by seeking forgiveness from the One who suffered in our place. The brutal truth of the matter is that we are all sinners—we have all fallen short of the mark, and if it were not for our Saviour, we would all be without hope. Every person needs forgiveness so that they can live their lives in happiness and peace, and with eternal hope.
Are there any here this evening who are mourning? Does the thought of what you have done break your heart? Then listen to the words of Jesus: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). Our Lord can take sorrow for wrongdoing and make something positive and healing out of it.
“…they shall be comforted.” Paul says much the same thing. He writes, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret” (2 Corinthians 7:10).
Our Saviour is gentle and sympathetic. We read of him, “a bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out, until he leads justice to victory” (Matthew 12:20). If you haven’t yet, be honest with God about what you have done and put your hope in the gentle Saviour tonight.
God offers you peace. With yourself. With him. He offers you forgiveness. He pleads with you to be reconciled to him. He yearns to give you a new beginning. He desires that you live a life of peace and joy and hope. He wants you to be an example of his abounding mercy and grace. And he freely offers all of this to you. Will you cast your burdens on him, for he cares for you?
Please feel welcome to place one of these beautiful roses at the foot of a cross as we sing, “Amazing Grace”. And as we sing, listen carefully to the words. They are words that are true of each of us. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.”
The 20th Annual Rally for Life concluded with the singing of “Amazing Grace” as many people placed roses at crosses.