This is the edited text of a speech given by Pastor Ron Nugent of All Nations Presbyterian Church at the Rally for Life at Parliament House, Perth, Western Australia, on Thursday 25 May 2006.
I begin by reading from a letter. It was written in 1 BC by a man called Hilarion. He has gone to Alexandria for work and is writing home to his wife, Alis:
“Hilarion to Alis his wife, heartiest greetings, and to my dear Berous and Appolinarion. Know that we are still even now in Alexandria. Do not worry if, when all others return, I remain in Alexandria. I beg and beseech you to take care of the little child, and, as soon as we receive wages, I will send them to you. If—good luck to you!—you have a child, if it is a boy, let it live; if it is a girl, throw it away. You told Aphrodisias to tell me: “Do not forget me.” How can I forget you? I beg you therefore not to worry.”
It is a letter full of affection for his wife and children, yet with a note of callousness towards a child still to be born: “Throw it away.”
Ancient civilisation was merciless to unwanted children. The Roman philosopher Seneca writes as if it was the commonest practice in the world, as indeed it was, “We slaughter a fierce ox; we strangle a mad dog, we plunge the knife into sickly cattle lest they taint the herd; children who are born weakly and deformed we drown.”
And it was not just weak or disabled children whose lives were in danger.Sometimes it was the healthiest and most beautiful children who were put to death. In ancient China it was the annual custom to placate the invisible lord of the Yellow River by giving him a human present. A pretty girl was dressed as a bride and placed on a wooden raft shaped like a marriage bed. The marriage bed was pushed into the rushing river where soon the bride slipped from sight to be united with her husband, the god of the river.
In 1995 in Peru, six thousand metres above sea level a human body was uncovered by the thawing of the snow. The body had been frozen for centuries and dated from the time of the Inca Empire. It was of a girl of about thirteen and she had been in sound health when she died. The historians tell us that she had been sacrificed to the gods of fertility to ensure rain for the crops. She was clinging to a blanket in which was wrapped her doll.
In every age and in every part of the world children have been discarded when they were unwanted or sacrificed to the gods when drought or danger threatened. And our age is no different. The only difference between us and the Romans, the Chinese and the Incas is that we get them sooner and in much larger numbers.
What everyone knows
Let us be clear that abortion kills children. Every first-year medical student knows that abortion kills children for every first-year medical student studies anatomy. And any standard anatomy textbook will tell you that what is in the mother’s womb is a human baby. At three to three-and-half weeks the tiny heart begins to beat. At four weeks, when the foetus is only about a quarter of an inch long, the head and the body, and the eyes, ears and mouth can all be distinguished. At six or seven weeks brain function can be detected, and at eight weeks (the age when the abortionists begin to practice their deadly trade) all the limbs can be seen as well as the fingers and toes and even the child’s fingerprints. At nine or ten weeks the baby can grasp with its hand and suck its thumb. At thirteen weeks, that is, at the end of the first trimester—and remember that some babies in Western Australia are aborted in their third trimester—the baby can move around in the womb, respond to pain and noise and light, and even get a fit of hiccups.
These are little children who are being killed. They are not little pigs, they are little children. They are not just human tissue, they are human children. And everyone knows that they are children. When she first feels her child kicking in the womb, what mother says, “The tissue in my womb is kicking”? No! She says, “The baby is kicking.” Our son and daughter-in-law are expecting their first child. I recently got a birthday card from them. It said “from Jon, Kellie and baby”. It didn’t say “from Jon, Kellie and tissue” or “from Jon, Kellie and foetus.” Everyone—absolutely everyone—calls the unborn child a “baby”. Let us be clear: abortion kills children.
The Romans, the Incas and us
In Australia today we kill our babies for exactly the same reasons that the Romans and the Incas killed theirs: because they are inconvenient and to satisfy our gods. Most babies are not aborted because the lives of their mothers are endangered or because their mothers have been raped. Most babies are aborted because their coming into the world will be inconvenient. Mum will have to put her career on hold. Dad will have to buy a bigger car. The family will have to postpone its overseas holiday. Or the child suffers some disability and will take more loving than Mum and Dad are willing to give. Our children are being sacrificed to the great gods Self and Pleasure. The high priests of these gods are the abortionists and, like the high priests of the past, these high priests are rewarded richly and respected highly, even being regarded as heroes.
But we are much more efficient than the Romans and the Incas—we kill our children sooner. We kill them while they are still in their mothers’ wombs. Let me ask you: why are these babies in their mothers’ wombs? For the same reason that baby birds are kept in the nest and baby kangaroos are kept in the pouch: to keep them safe. God, in his goodness and wisdom, has designed the mother’s womb to protect and preserve her child when it is most vulnerable and most in danger. But we have found a way to get into the womb and a method to kill the baby before it ever sees the light of day. We have a name for it: we call it a “scientific advance.”
And we kill our children in larger numbers than did the Romans and the Incas. We do not know the exact figures, but it is estimated that over 80,000 children are aborted in Australia every year. Some reckon the number to be as high as 100,000. That is the same number as all the Australians who have died in all the wars in which our nation has fought, from the Boer War of 1899-1902 to the Iraq War of today, including the two World Wars. Every Anzac Day our nation stops to remember the thousands who have died in war, and every year we kill the same number in their mothers’ wombs. The most dangerous place to be in Australia today is not on the road or in a hospital, but in a mother’s womb.
To finish, I want to say something briefly to three groups of people.
To the pro-abortion MPs
First, I want to say something to the pro-abortion members of Parliament—to those who voted eight years ago to legalise abortion in Western Australia. (I must call you “pro-abortion”; I cannot call you “pro-choice”. The babies get no choice—the decision is made without any regard for them; sometimes the mothers get no choice—they are pressured by their families or their boyfriends; and sometimes the fathers get no choice—they may want to keep the baby but they are told that it is not their body).
To the pro-abortion members of Parliament, I have a question: Where are your principles? Those of you in the Labor Party say that you are the champions of the weak and the vulnerable. Well, the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society are babies in their mothers’ wombs. Why are you silent? Why are you not speaking out for them? Why are you not standing up for them? Those of you in the Liberal Party claim to be the champions of liberty and freedom. Surely the most fundamental freedom of all is the freedom to live. Freedom to live is more important even than free speech or free enterprise. If we are not allowed to live, we cannot speak and we cannot work. Where are your principles?
To the pro-life MPs
Secondly, I want to say something to the pro-life members of Parliament—to all those who, eight years ago, spoke up for those who cannot speak for themselves and voted against the legalisation of abortion. To the pro-life members of Parliament I say this: We thank God for you. We commend you for your faithfulness to your principles in the face of criticism and abuse. You stand in the noble tradition of the social reformers of past centuries, men and women like William Wilberforce, who led the fight against slavery, Elizabeth Fry, who led the fight for prison reform, Lord Shaftsbury, who led the fight against child labour. To begin with they were unpopular people fighting for unpopular causes, but they won in the end. Eight years ago we lost, but we will win in the end. Do not lose heart. Stay faithful. Be true to your principles. Know that we are with you.
To pro-life protesters
Thirdly, I want to say something to those who have come to this rally this afternoon. To you I cannot do better than repeat the words of Jesus of Nazareth to his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount: “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).
In ancient times salt was used primarily not as a condiment but as a preservative. Salt stopped the meat going rotten. When meat goes rotten, the question to ask is: “Where is the salt?” When the night grows dark, the question to ask is: “Where is the light?” As our society descends into a new age of barbarism and darkness, the question to ask is: “Where are the Christians?” It is the Christians who are to act as salt preventing the spread of the rot and as light halting the advance of the darkness. And we do that by speaking and by serving. Let us grasp every opportunity to speak for the unborn—to remind our families, our friends, our neighbours, our colleagues and our politicians that God places babies in the womb to keep them safe and that abortion kills children. And let us grasp every opportunity to serve the needy—to help young mothers who have fallen pregnant and who are afraid of what the future holds, by speaking to their families, by caring for them and their children, perhaps even by bringing them into our homes, so that others may see our good works and give glory to our Father in heaven, to whom all glory belongs.