To mark the fourteenth anniversary of the legalisation of abortion on demand in Western Australia, the Coalition for the Defence of Human Life held a Walk and Rally for Life on the evening of Tuesday, 22 May. It is clear that numbers are increasing, with this rally being the largest since the rallies in 1998 when abortion was being debated in both houses of the Parliament. Approximately 800 people of all ages participated in the event.
The evening commenced at KingsPark with introductory comments from Dwight Randall, President of the Coalition, followed by a Scripture reading and prayers over the city and the state. Dwight said:
Since abortion was legalised in Western Australia in 1998 approximately 116,000 children have been robbed of life. Many of their mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, brothers and sisters carry the hurts and wounds of this massive destruction of human life.
This is a matter that grieves us deeply, and that we are eager to bring in prayer before our Heavenly Father.
Pastor Rex Gabrielson led the gathering in prayer for a culture of life and an end to abortion. He prayed:
Almighty God our loving and gracious Father,
We humble ourselves before You in prayer tonight earnestly seeking your mercy and forgiveness for this State of Western Australia.
For the past fourteen years we have forsaken your commandment “Thou shalt not kill”. We have abandoned innocent children and their mothers to the horror and abomination of abortion – the slaughter of the child in the womb.
Lord we are deeply grieved for the one hundred and sixteen thousand babies who have been sacrificed to the gods of convenience and materialism; whose lives have been willfully destroyed before their eyes could see the light or their ears hear Your word.
Lord, they are, each one of them, children made in your image and likeness; children for whom your son Jesus Christ shed his most precious blood; children who would have loved us.
On behalf of all those who have been complicit in this slaughter of the innocents we earnestly implore your mercy.
For our own failure to do everything that could be done to end the killing and restore respect for human life we ask your forgiveness.
Heal our land; restore our state to a right relationship with you; bring an end to the killing of the innocent; hear our prayers and do not forsake us for you are our only hope.
Father, we make these petitions trusting solely in the merits and mercy of your son our Lord Jesus Christ who with you and the Holy Spirit is one eternal God. Amen.
Prayers were also offered by Mr Gary Kleyn for those in authority; by Pastor Wayne Hollett for the Christian church; by Mrs Michelle Macormic for women and men faced with a crisis pregnancy; and by Archbishop Emeritus Barry Hickey, who led in a blessing for all unborn children.
At the conclusion of the prayers, the crowd walked quietly along beautiful Fraser Avenue overlooking the city of Perth to Parliament House.
At Parliament House, Dwight Randall opened the rally with a minute of silence to remember the 116,000 unborn children killed in Western Australia since 1998. He said:
This Saturday, May 26th, 2012, will mark the fourteenth anniversary of the legalisation of abortion in Western Australia. Fourteen years ago the Parliament of Western Australia robbed unborn children of the most fundamental right of all—the right to life itself. In spite of wave after wave of pleadings to the contrary, laws were enacted by which unborn children would be killed in the tens of thousands.
Since May 26th, 1998, over 116,000 unborn children have been put to death with state sanction. This terrible toll equals over 32 unborn children per second, or almost 2,000 children per minute, for the duration of this rally this evening.
The eldest of these children would now be entering their teenage years: that somewhat awkward stage between childhood and adulthood. They would have been starting to look, even if they didn’t always behave, like young men and women.Some would have been soaring past their mothers in height. They would have been wondering where they fit into the jigsaw of human life, but sadly they were deprived of the opportunity to experience the wonders of life. They would have desperately wanted to be loved and accepted by their parents, their friends and others, but the opportunity to receive and give love was stolen from them.
What would they say if they could speak to our lawmakers? I believe they would say something like this: “You robbed us of life. You passed heartless laws by which we could be killed by the thousands every year. You demand your own rights—you enjoy life to the full, but you have had no compassion on us. Surely God will hold you accountable!”
Not only have these 116,000 children thirteen years and younger been deprived of the most fundamental right of all—the right to life—but sadly tens of thousands of women have been wounded emotionally, physically and spiritually. No woman can submit to having her child killed within her and not be damaged in some way.
We have assembled here today to remember these unborn children who have been robbed of life, and to give public witness to our grief, our heartbreak, our dismay that they could be killed with the sanction of the state.
Will you please join with me in a minute of silence to remember the children, to remember their mothers, and others hurt by abortion? You might like to pray for strength to continue this fight until abortion becomes unthinkable in this state. In silence, let us remember them…
After the minute of silence, Dwight continued:
Many of you who have been faithfully attending these rallies year after year will recall that on the 10thanniversary of the legalisation of abortion in Western Australia the Coalition for the Defence of Human Life presented William Wilberforce Awards to dozens of parliamentarians. These awards were given to parliamentarians with a blameless pro-life voting record “for consistent service in the defence of human life and the protection of unborn children in the Parliament of Western Australia”.
More recently the board of the coalition has been discussing giving awards to church leaders and lay people who have given outstanding service in the defence of life.
Tonight, The Von Galen-Bonhoeffer Award for outstanding leadership in the defence of human life is being given to threeworthy recipients. The award is named after Clemens August von Galen and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
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 Coalition for the Defence of Human Life has 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. It is named after two heroes from the Nazi period – one Catholic, and one Protestant. This reflects the ecumenical nature of our Coalition and our Christian fellowship in the cause of defending life.
The award was then presented to Barry Hickey, Archbishop Emeritus of Perth. It read:
“Archbishop Hickey is a worthy inaugural recipient of the Von Galen-Bonhoeffer Award for outstanding leadership in the defence of human life. During his tenure as Archbishop of Perth he spoke out consistently in defence of human life in the face of proposals to legalise abortion, human cloning and euthanasia. He was threatened with being found guilty of contempt of Parliament for his efforts to remind Members of Parliament of their duty to vote in defence of life but continued to do so fearlessly. He pledged that any woman facing a crisis pregnancy would find help from the Catholic Church and supported the establishment of Pregnancy Assistance to give effect to this pledge. He participated in peaceful, prayerful presence outside abortion facilities with the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants. His leadership has been an inspiration for the whole prolife movement regardless of church background.”
The second award was given in absentia to Graham and Elizabeth Preston It read:
“Graham and Liz are very worthy joint inaugural recipients of the Von Galen-Bonhoeffer Award for outstanding leadership in the defence of human life. Graham has for several years acted on his conviction that abortion takes the life of an innocent baby by sitting in the entrance to abortion facilities, thus placing his body between the baby and the abortionist. He has been arrested and fined thousands of dollars. Graham believes that to pay the fines would be to agree that it is wrong to try to save the lives of babies from abortion. He is currently serving an eight month sentence in a Brisbane gaol for this refusal. His wife Liz fully supports his actions in defence of human life and is caring for their seven children, all of whom are very proud of their dad’s courage. Graham and Liz remind us all what is at stake in every abortion – an unrepeatable, unique human being.”
In addition to giving the Graham and Elizabeth Preston the award,the Coalition for the Defence of Human Life also distributed a petition to the Attorney General of Queensland urging the release of Graham from prison, and received an offering to help Liz and the children.
Several MPs addressed the gathering, including the Hon Nick Goiran MLC, Member for South Metropolitan Region; the Hon Michelle Roberts MLA, Member for Midland; Mr Peter Abetz MLA, Member for Southern River; Margaret Quirk MLA, Member for Girrawheen; Mr Bill Johnston MLA, Member for Cannington; and Dr Graham Jacobs MLA, Member for Eyre. Mr Ray Moran, National President for Australian Christians, also spoke briefly.
In addition, the following MPs were either present or sent apologies: Hon Kate Doust MLC, Member for South Metropolitan; Hon Helen Bullock MLC, Member for Mining and Pastoral Region; Hon Ed Dermer MLC, Member for North Metropolitan Region; Hon Helen Morton MLC, Minister for Mental Health; Hon Tom Stephens MLA, Member for Pilbara; Hon Liz Behjat, MLC, Member for North Metropolitan Region; Hon Donna Faragher MLC, Member for East Metropolitan Region; Mr Ian Britza MLA, Member for Morley; Mr Phil Edman, MLC Member for South Metropolitan Region; Mr Tony Krsticevic, MLA, Member for Carine; Mr Vince Catania, MLA, Member for North West; Mr Ken Wyatt, MHR, Federal Member for Hasluck; Mr Jim Chown*, MLC, Member for Agricultural Region; and Hon Alyssa Haydon*, MLC, Member for East Metropolitan Region.
·The last two persons are not necessarily supportive of our position.