by MINA AMSO
More than 1000 people took to the streets of Christchurch on a sunny Saturday afternoon (August 15) for the first time to march for life. Men, women and children marched from Cathedral Square to Victoria Square in the CBD, and their message was clear: “Love them both”.
Co-organiser Jason Winslade said he was happy and thankful they were able to go ahead, despite the Covid-19 restrictions being put in place.
“Everyone was sitting on the edge of their seats waiting to see what was going to happen on Friday night,” he said.
“It was great to see so many people.”
He said he would have expected to see around 2000 people turn up under alert level 1.
His team complied with level 2 health and safety precautions, including sectioning people off in groups of 100, and leaving a two–metre distance between individuals.
Mr Winslade said this March For Life was “unashamedly and openly Christian”, as distinct from others held elsewhere in the country.
There was prayer, Gospel messages were spoken out, and there was some praise and worship.
People of different Christian denominations were present, including Catholics, Anglicans and other Christians.
“The issue of life goes across denominations, its core to humanity. It’s a mark of maturity and urgency,” Mr Winslade said.
He said the march had a three-fold focus – political, pastoral and being proactive.
Director of LifeNet New Zealand Brendan Malone said he’s never seen the prolife movement this “invigorated” in the 16 years he’s worked in this movement full–time.
He criticised the current parliamentary system for the way it saw the End of Life Choice Act and the Abortion Legislation Act passed into law. He was especially critical of the fact that many MPs were not present in the House to engage with important safety clauses that were proposed for both pieces of legislation. Rather, they gave proxy votes to other MPs.
Openly pro-life Members of Parliament Simon O’Connor and Agnes Loheni were scheduled to be at the march, but could not be there, due to level 3 restrictions in Auckland.
Proactive pregnancy help groups, such as the John Paul II Centre for Life, were present at the march, and talked about their ministry in helping women who find themselves in a crisis pregnancy.
At the march, there was an emphasis on prayer and fasting being a key element in fighting for the lives of the unborn, and on the importance of providing women facing unplanned or unwanted pregnancies with options for support and care.
Other speakers touched on topics like post-abortion trauma, the pressures placed on young women who are pregnant, and the issue of abortion and disability.