The 23rd annual Rally for Life, an annual event hosted by the Coalition for the Defence of Human Life, took place at the Western Australian Parliament House on Wednesday, June 16th. After chairing or co-chairing every Rally for Life since 1998, I stepped down from chairing this rally. Instead, Darryl Budge, State Director of FamilyVoice, and Maryka Groenewald, State Director of the Australian Christians Party, co-chaired the rally. They did a commendable job, leading me to conclude that passing leadership of the rally to a younger generation is the right course of action.
Around 2,000 people attended the rally, making it the largest rally held at Parliament House this year. And a very significant proportion of those attending were young people. This bodes very well for the future.
A posthumous Von Galen-Bonhoeffer Award “for outstanding leadership in defence of human life” was received by two of the late John Barich’s sons. The award was also presented to Dr Lachlan Dunjey, a courageous Christian medical practitioner.
Abortion was legalised in Western Australia on 26th May 1998. The Coalition for the Defence of Human Life made a solemn promise at that time to never forget the unborn children robbed of life with state sanction, and so a minute of silence is held in remembrance of them each year at the time of the passing of the legislation. The purpose of the rally is to remember the children, to remind the parliament of its brutal legislation, and to urge the parliament to enact laws that will once again protect children.
I was invited to speak about strategies for the future. I said:
The most brutal law in the history of WA came into effect in May 1998. It violated our government’s primary obligation to ensure the right to life and liberty for every West Australian.
The Coalition proposed a strategy to reverse the law. At each election cycle we determined to make it our highest priority to elect more pro-life MPs until there were sufficient numbers to amend or reverse WA’s abortion law.
For a period of time it seemed like we were moving in the right direction. But, sadly, the last election obliterated the gains of the past two decades.
Labor won by a landslide, and now governs with an absolute majority in both houses of parliament. The vast majority of Labor MPs, with few exceptions, are committed to abortion on demand.
And the Liberal Party, which previously contained the highest number of pro-life MPs, has been reduced to a mere shadow of its former self.
Thus, there are now fewer pro-life MPs across all parties than at any time in the past 23 years.
That does not mean that we should give up fighting for justice for the unborn—we should continue to do that—but it does mean that we must enlarge our approach.
It is extremely unlikely that Labor will give pro-lifers a crumb over this term of government. Instead, it is likely that the government will enact laws that will stifle and punish some people who would offer help, as evidenced by legislation about to be introduced in parliament.
In view of this, how do we respond?
Our unjust laws will not change until our culture changes. And our culture will not change unless we bring about that change—unless we as Christians re-commit ourselves to the task before us. In order to effect change we must:
1. Pray earnestly. This is a battle that we will not win without God’s help.
I urge you to make the killing of innocent children in our state a matter of daily prayer.
Pray for our Premier, the Hon Mark McGowan. I have observed that he loves his wife and children. I would like to think that if he had to, he would lay down his life for them. Pray that he, and his party, will come to value other mother’s children as they value their own.
Pray for pro-life MPs, that they might not become discouraged, but faithfully and valiantly stand for life.
But, also pray for MPs who support abortion, that God might soften their hearts, for unless God does, there is little hope of change.
And pray that God might soften the hearts of the people of this state, and give them courage to stand in defence of the unborn.
2. Become a pro-life advocate. In order to change our culture, each one of us must commit ourselves to talking with family, friends, and colleagues about the reality of abortion.
I remember that when I was a young man I talked with a male colleague who believed that abortion was a woman’s right. After talking with him I gave him a book written by Dr John Willke on the topic of abortion. He read it and overnight his position flipped 180 degrees. We must speak with others if we are going to change our culture.
3. Encourage our pastors and priests to address this, the greatest moral evil of our time. This is essential. We need courageous leaders.
4. If some pastors and priests refuse to address this matter, then work from the bottom up in our churches. Top to bottom, or bottom to top, we can win our churches over if we will be faithful advocates for the unborn.
5. Promote Christian morality, i.e. sexual abstinence prior to marriage and fidelity within marriage. This is the surest way to experience a life filled with happiness and security, and to be a wonderful example to others.
6. Decide right now that you will never resort to abortion under any circumstance, whether for a partner, or a child of yours, or a family member. If you make up your mind now, you won’t fail later.
7. Support pregnancy support agencies that are providing help to pregnant women. These agencies are making a significant impact for good on our culture.
8. Support organisations like the Coalition for the Defence of Human Life and its affiliates that are addressing this issue in public.
In conclusion, we can achieve change with God’s help. Jesus sent out a dozen imperfect followers, and with God’s blessing they changed the world in one generation.
This parliament is not going to bring about change. It’s up to you and me, dear friends. We are the ones who must effect cultural change in this state. If we don’t do it, then no one will. It is that simple.
In a moment, each of us will be encouraged to make a pledge along these lines.
Dylan Twiss and several other young people led the gathering in the concluding pledge:
Tonight, we renew our commitment
to the defence of life in all its stages;
We pledge to love and care for the unborn;
to be a voice for the voiceless.
We pledge to love and support the vulnerable;
to help mothers, fathers or families who face tough decisions.
We pledge to help the elderly and frail;
to provide hope in a time of failing health.
We pledge to ensure proper funding for end-of-life care;
so that no West Australian should suffer alone.
We ask God for courage to confront our State’s shame
and to offer life-affirming help in its place.
So help us God.