To mark the tenth anniversary of the legalisation of abortion on demand in Western Australia, the Coalition for the Defence of Human Life held a Rally for Life at Parliament House at noon on Thursday, 22 May.
The keynote speaker was Denise Mountenay, the founder and president of Canada Silent No More, a Christian support group for women who have suffered grief and guilt after having abortions. Other speakers included Karina Felton, Archbishop Barry Hickey, Senator Guy Barnett, Richard Egan, Andrew Lansdown and Dwight Randall.
Towards the end of the rally, the inaugural William Wilberforce Awards were presented to pro-life politicians in recognition of their outstanding efforts to safeguard the sanctity of human life.
Below is the text of Dwight Randall’s speech to open the rally, and his comments as he presented the William Wilberforce Awards to the prolife parliamentarians. Andrew Lansdown’s introduction to the William Wilberforce Awards is also included below.
Opening speech – Dwight Randall
Next Monday, May 26th2008 will mark ten years of legalised abortion in Western Australia. On May 26th1998, the Governor of Western Australia informed the Legislative Council that he had given royal assent to the Acts Amendment (Abortion) Bill 1998 (also known as the Davenport Bill).
The act gave state sanction to the killing of unborn children for any reason whatsoever during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, and in some cases, even beyond that. Since then—over the past decade—80,000 unborn children have been killed.
While the 20th century had afforded considerable protection to unborn children in Western Australia, the 21stcentury thus far, has afforded none.
The old law, which was based upon the 1867 British Crime Statutes and codified into Western Australian law in 1913, reflected a more compassionate and just society where the unborn were granted considerable protection. Throughout much of the 20th century many doctors who performed illegal abortions were prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned.
But in the 1960s, the laws prohibiting abortion were increasingly overlooked and prosecutions ceased. Successive governments from both major parties ignored the plight of the unborn and remained inactive while unborn children were killed in their thousands each year.
But even then, the old law was not without effect, for most pregnant women understood that abortion was illegal. Doctors still worried about prosecution. The law still had an educative function in the community, helping people to understand that abortion was no misdemeanour, with penalties of up to 14 years imprisonment for those performing them. The old law, then, was compassionate and just.
The new law that came into effect ten years ago also reflects society. But, instead of reflecting a compassionate and just society, it reflects a brutal and excessive society where the killing of unborn children is endorsed by the state, and where doctors who kill them are granted legal protection and financial reward.
The new law marked a deadly watershed in the history of this State. It marked Western Australia as a barbaric society—a society which has lost its most basic sense of justice and entered a very dark era.
We are gathered here today to remember the 80,000 unborn children who have been robbed of life under the merciless legislation that was passed ten years ago. But how can we adequately remember them? What would these children say to this parliament if they could speak—the 40,000 girls and 40,000 boys who would now range in age up to nine years old—what would they say?
I am confident that they would say to the MPs who voted for the legislation, “You betrayed us. You didn’t care that we would be killed by the tens-of-thousands. You heartless people. We just wanted to enjoy life as you do. We wanted to gaze into the eyes of our mothers. We wanted to hear them say that they loved us, and we wanted to tell them that we loved them too. We wanted to be held in their arms. We wanted to play with other children, to breathe air, and look at the sky. But you didn’t care about us at all. You gave doctors permission to slaughter us with scalpel, suction and poison. God is our witness to your mercilessness.”
Dear friends, we pledge never to forget these 80,000 children who were forsaken by this parliament. Will you please join with me in a minute of silence to remember these 80,000 children who have been robbed of life under this legislation over the past
10 years? 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 remember them …
Introduction to the William Wilberforce Awards – Andrew Lansdown
In a few minutes we will be presenting the inaugural William Wilberforce Awards to certain members of parliament “For consistent service in the defence of human life and the protection of unborn children in the Parliament of Western Australia”.
The Coalition for the Defence of Human Life has named the awards after William Wilberforce because of the parallels between his fight to end slavery and our fight to end abortion. Slavery and abortion both depend upon the dehumanising of certain classes of human beings. Both devalue human life and subordinate it to the personal whims and economic interests of the powerful. And like abortion today, slavery in its day was so widely supported in the community that opposition to it seemed futile.
William Wilberforce dedicated himself to the abolition of slavery in 1787, seven years after entering the British parliament and two years after becoming a Christian.
Year after year Wilberforce put up a bill to abolish the slave trade, and year after year his bill was defeated and he himself was mocked and vilified. Twenty years passed before his bill passed through the parliament in 1807. Wilberforce then laboured for another 26 years to abolish slavery itself. Think of it: 20 years to abolish the trade of slavery and a further 26 years to abolish the practice of slavery; 46 years in all. That’s dedication! That’s perseverance!
The film Amazing Grace was released last year to mark the 200th anniversary of the enactment of William Wilberforce’s bill to abolish the slave trade. One scene in the film is particularly poignant. The secretary of Wilberforce’s anti-slavery society had returned from the West Indies, where he had witnessed the brutality of slavery firsthand. He reported that the slaves knew about, and took hope from, Wilberforce’s struggle on their behalf. Then he said, “I saw a woman and her child being beaten in a coffee field. And afterwards I heard the woman tell her daughter that someone was coming across the sea to save them. She said it was King Wilberforce.”
My dear life-loving members of parliament, can you hear them, the little children in the waiting rooms of the abortion clinics in Perth? One is saying, “I’ve heard that someone is coming across the city to save us.” And another is replying, “Yes, I’ve heard it too. I’ve heard that King Omodei and King Dermer are coming, and Queen Roberts and Queen Scott, too.”
Of course, this is a fantasy. Unborn children snuggled in their mothers’ wombs in the abortion-clinic waiting-rooms cannot speak, nor do they know of attempts to save them. But I know and I can speak. And I want to say this to you regal parliamentarians who are about to receive the William Wilberforce Awards:
I saw many of you in action during the abortion debates in parliament over those terrible weeks in 1998. I saw your dedication, your sacrifice, your integrity, your valour. Well done, your Majesties!
Oh, may you continue to be to the unborn children of Western Australia what William Wilberforce was to the enslaved peoples of the British territories! Regardless of the waves and the currents and the winds, keep crossing the seas of cruelty until you reach the children and save them. Be their Wilberforces. Be their liberating kings and queens. May the High King of Heaven help you in this great endeavour!”
Presentation of the William Wilberforce Awards – Dwight Randall
Over the past 10 years we have lost two battles, and won one. We lost the great battle against the legalisation of abortion in 1998. We lost the battle against embryo research in 2004.
But just last month we celebrated the defeat of the human cloning bill by 18-15 in the Legislative Council. We are encouraged by this, and hoping and praying for further victories in the future.
We now want to honour those MPs who since 1998 have consistently used their vote in the defence of human life and for the protection of unborn children from abortion, embryo research and human cloning.
It is with great pleasure that we now present a number of these MPs present with us today awards named after William Wilberforce, whose perseverance over many years as a member of parliament led to the abolition of the slave trade and ultimately the freedom of all slaves throughout the British territory.
The Award reads, “William Wilberforce Award. For consistent service in the defence of human life and the protection of unborn children in the Parliament of Western Australia this Award is presented to (with the name of the MP) 22ndMay 2008.” It is signed by me as the President of the Coalition for the Defence of Human Life, and at the bottom contains this quote from William Wilberforce given in the House of Commons on 18thApril, 1791, “Whatever may be its success, I have attached my happiness to their cause, and shall never relinquish it.”
Now to the Awards:
Mr Ted Cunningham – a posthumous award – Ted played a key role in the battle against the legalisation of abortion in 1998. His award will be received by the Hon Michelle Roberts.
Hon Michelle Roberts – opposed abortion in 1998, opposed human embryo research in 2003, opposed human cloning in 2007.
Hon Paul Omodei – opposed abortion in 1998, opposed human embryo research in 2003, opposed human cloning in 2007[Paul was unable to attend the rally].
Mrs Katie Hodson-Thomas – opposed abortion in 1998, opposed human embryo research in 2003, opposed human cloning in 2007 [Katie was unable to attend the rally].
Hon Ed Dermer – opposed abortion in 1998, opposed human embryo research in 2004, opposed human cloning in 2008.
Hon Barbara Scott – opposed abortion in 1998, opposed human embryo research in 2004, opposed human cloning in 2008.
Hon Phil Pendal – opposed abortion in 1998, opposed human embryo research in 2003.
Hon Kate Doust – opposed human embryo research in 2004, opposed human cloning in 2008.
Dr Graham Jacobs – opposed human cloning in 2007.
Mr John D’Orazio – opposed human embryo research in 2003.
Mr Paddy Embry – opposed human embryo research in 2004.
Mr Troy Buswell – opposed human cloning in 2007. [Troy was unable to attend the rally].
Awards have also been accepted by the following MPs, who regretfully were unable to attend today’s rally and have tendered their apologies: the Hon Nick Griffiths; the Hon Margaret Quirk; the Hon Muriel Patterson; Mr Chris Baker; Mrs Monica Holmes; Mr Bill McNee; the Hon Eric Charlton; the Hon Murray Montgomery; Mr Paul Andrews; Mr Tony Dean; Mr Tony Simpson; the Hon Helen Morton; the Hon Vince Catania; the Hon Wendy Duncan; the Hon Simon O’Brien; and the Hon Cheryl Edwardes.
When we reflect on the actions of these pro-life politicians, we should be greatly encouraged to continue the fight for life until together, we on the outside and MPs on the inside, we Make Abortion History in this state.
Recipients of the inaugural William Wilberforce Awards
Hon Phil Pendal (who sadly passed away a few days after the rally), Hon Michelle Roberts, Hon Ed Dermer, Mr Paddy Embry, Hon Barbara Scott, Hon Kate Doust, and Dr Graham Jacobs.
Action: Write to these politicians to congratulate them on receiving a William Wilberforce Award and to urge them to continue with the struggle in the parliament to preserve the sanctity of human life from fertilisation to natural death.