Bernard Moran may have retired as Voice for Life communications manager, but he has not stepped away from the fight to defend life as sacred.
Mr Moran, 75, told NZ Catholic he stepped down from the role to give way to “green shoots”.
“[The communications strategy is] becoming more and more social media and social media isn’t my forte. There are people more accomplished. The people we are trying to reach now [are] younger, so [it is] time to step aside,” he said.
Mr Moran and his wife, Annetta, had been active in the pro-life movement for 50 years, ever since they attended an anti-abortion town hall meeting in the 1970s, sitting quietly in the dark listening to a baby’s heartbeat.
“It was absolutely dramatic and a really spiritual moment,” he said.
Mr Moran said he has been asked by Voice for Life to write about the history of the pro-life movement for their website.
“I’ve lived through it all, so that’s what I’m doing,” he said.
Mr Moran remembered covering – for NZ Tablet – a peaceful protest at an abortion clinic after the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act was passed in 1977.
“I’d been there for an hour and it felt like there was an invisible dark cloud coming down. I realised it was spiritual. This was Satan’s playground, if you like. It was just the most oppressive feeling,” he said.
Mr Moran reflected that the pro-life movement does not go on a straight line. “We sort of zig-zag all over the place in trying to reach our goal,” he said.
In 2011, he broke the glass ceiling and became the first male president of the Voice for Life.
“It was just coincidental I happened to be a male. I was the first male in 25 years,” he said. “Our opponents say we are male-dominated, but it’s actually women that have always been in charge of SPUC (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) or Voice for Life.”
SPUC had been the forerunner of Voice for Life. A purely anti-abortion group, which started in the 1970’s, SPUC had quite naturally been pulled towards other life issues. They rebranded in August, 2004, and became Voice for Life.
“We often have setbacks and we think, oh, gosh, are we making any difference?” he said.
“You keep on doing what you’re doing because it would have been far worse if the anti-abortion movement hadn’t been there. We would have had abortion on demand decades ago. The annual death toll would have been higher.”
When he was VFL president, in 2010, they accidentally came across a document called “Road Map to Abortion Reform Law”.
“It revealed the years of collaboration between New Zealand and Australian abortion activists and their strategy for the future, including the use of the Law Commission as a Trojan Horse,” he said.
He said VFL was aware that a Labour-led government, with the Green Party as its partner, was committed to abortion on demand.
“We were doing everything in our power to effectively prepare for the change in government and the roadmap [being] implemented. At the end of the day, and we were carefully monitoring in Parliament, we didn’t have the numbers,” he said.
“At the end of the day, if the numbers aren’t in your favour, you lose. But you don’t pack up your tent and say, well, that’s it, we’ll walk away,” he said.
He said one of his disappointments is that the conservative voice has been eased out of the public square.
“Over the last few years, it’s really hard to get the pro-life point of view out. You are just blocked. The media used to be a lot more balanced, but now we just get blocked. Binned is the word,” he said. “Our voices don’t get heard.”
This is why, he said, social media is important now.
“The reality is the millennials and generation X, they live in social media. That’s where they are now,” he said.
Mr Moran said he will still work with the executive of the Auckland branch. He co-writes snippets about the movement that appear in parish newsletters. He also wrote a religious education booklet on abortion, which is being trialled at a Catholic girls’ college.
Mr Moran encouraged readers to join Voice for Life.
“You don’t have to storm the barricades. You don’t have to great things. God brings to you, in your extended family situation, somebody who needs support,” he said. “A helping hand just at the right time can be life-saving.”