More than 1000 people walked through the streets of Wellington city to Parliament in the fourth national March for Life on December 5.
Many of the marchers had pink and blue balloons, and carried banners, with a variety of messages emphasising love and life — for mother and baby.
A 60-strong Mother of Divine Mercy group from Auckland sang and chanted throughout the march, and their enthusiasm was said to be contagious. The group raises its own funds to travel to the
marches each year.
At Parliament grounds, there were speeches from political and pro life figures, including Lila Rose, president and founder of Live Action in the US, who spoke by video-link.
Ms Rose congratulated and encouraged the marchers, stating that “. . . how we treat the most vulnerable, what our laws fail to do, or what they do do for the most vulnerable, is the true measure of our greatness and our justice as a society”.
“. . . [I]f our laws do not protect that first human right, which is life, then we cannot have peace or justice in our society,” she said.
Ms Rose acknowledged that such pro-life public initiatives are carried out with grief in people’s hearts, because of the loss that abortion entails to many people involved.
“As you march now,” Ms Rose added in encouragement, “know that you are not marching alone. You are one of millions across the world . . . that are marching together for life.”
“Our movement is a winning one — this is the good news. Change is possible. I have seen this in the US,” she added.
Courage is required, voices have to be raised but, at the same time women facing abortion have to be supported, she said.
“Despite the critics, despite the attacks, we can be victorious, because we have the truth on our side and, ultimately, I believe we are on the side of love, love that comes from a God who created all of us in his image and likeness, who created every child in his image and likeness.”
Ms Rose suggested three key activities for marchers when they went home — educating those they know about the reality of abortion, staying involved in the pro-life cause in areas like advocacy and support initiatives, and praying “for a global transformation . . . that people can have a restored vision of humanity”.
Former MP Agnes Loheni, who was on the select committee that considered the Abortion Legislation Bill, told the marchers that, even though she was no longer an MP after both the election and the battle over the bill had been lost, “the battle continues today. I am no longer in Parliament, but I am out in the community, with all of you, because that is where the battle now continues”.
In a report on Family Life International’s website, Michelle Kaufman wrote that Ms Loheni said: “History has never looked kindly on governments that sanction the killing of [their] own citizens, and history will not judge the passing of this abortion legislation kindly.”
The FLI report added that Mrs Loheni concluded by giving a stark warning about anticipated restrictions on speech about abortion. Referencing the miraculous defeat of the “anti-free speech and the anti-freedom safe zones” in the Abortion Legislation Act, she noted that it was “likely that this will be raised again in this term of government”.
It “is only a short jump from banning speech outside an abortion clinic to banning speech that is anti-abortion”, she warned.
MP Simon O’Connor (National — Tamaki) told the marchers that he is “proudly pro-life”.
“I have fought against abortion, fought against euthanasia, fought against hate speech, and will never stop fighting,” he said.
But he acknowledged those women who had “made what is a terrible and hard decision”.
“To those mums who have chosen abortion, we stand with you, we love you, we support you. To the dads and the families who have put pressure, often on those young women, we ask you to actually stand with those women, and to love your child. To the fathers today — support those women, support them and your child, stand with them.”
Mr O’Connor looked forward to a time when people gathered at Parliament, not to lament laws that have been passed, but to celebrate a culture of life returning to this country.
FLI also reported that another speaker at Parliament was Giselle, a young mother, originally from Argentina, whose support network had failed her when she found out she was pregnant. Her boyfriend, family, and medical staff, all told her that abortion was her best option. However, she chose to reach out to FLI’s Gianna’s Choice Pregnancy Options and Support, and was given all the encouragement and support she needed — especially by Dame Colleen Bayer — to give life to her son Noah. She explained that knowing she “was not alone” helped her to make her choice for life.
At Parliament’s grounds, a newly-formed group — ProLove — which provides packs of donated baby goods to mothers in need, explained their mission to the crowd. Situated in South Auckland, in just a few months the group has distributed 500 boxes of goods to mothers and babies in the local community, reported FLI.
A small group of counter-protestors followed the March for Life, as happened in Hamilton last year. They displayed signs at Parliament’s grounds.
Marches for Life are being planned for several places next year, including in Auckland and Hamilton in early March, in Christchurch and Whangarei in September, and in Wellington again on December 4, 2021.
- FLI reported that about 200 people attended Mass at Saint Mary of the Angels in Wellington city on the Friday night (December 4) in preparation for the March for Life.
Both the Saint Mary of the Angels choir, and Mother of Divine Mercy Refuge Choir from Auckland, added to the prayer with their singing. Quoting Pope Francis, Auckland auxiliary Bishop Michael Gielen highlighted the value of every human being. “Human beings have inherent, irreducible value, but when a throwaway culture finds them inconvenient, it deems them ‘inefficient’ or ‘burdensome’; and they are ignored, rejected or even disposed of.”
“Jesus has called you here,” he stated. “It is his work first.”
He reminded the congregation of St Teresa of Kolkata’s words that “we are not called to be successful, but faithful”.
“Let us take hope, he concluded. “Allow him (Jesus) to use us in this March for Life.”
(Photo: The March for Life moves through Wellington’s streets: Photographer – Bianca Jago)