I think March for Life UK 2017 will be one of those days that I’ll never forget – I felt so proud to be pro-life! If someone had told me beforehand that it was going to pour with rain and that hundreds of protesters were going to try and disrupt the event I would have thought ‘that’s not how I want to spend my Saturday’ but by the end of the day I felt that if I was standing amongst people such as these I could face anything joyfully.
The theme of the day set by the speakers seemed to be ‘choice’. Both Lila Rose and Catherine Adair homed in on this key word in the abortion debate. Lila spoke commandingly over the abortion supporters’ shouts before sharing a video featuring women contacting abortion providers asking about pre-natal care only to discover that there was just one type of ‘help’ they could be offered – abortion. No health checks, scans, counselling or advice about adoption etc, no real choices were laid out for them, only the offer to end the life of their child. As the video played even the protesters quietened. One of them laid down his placard and walked away.
Catherine Adair too picked up on this message letting people know that in all her years of working in the abortion industry she never encountered one single woman who felt she had a choice. Again and again she heard the same words ‘I need an abortion, I have no choice”.
This stood out glaringly against the mantra chanted by those who opposed our presence, their slogan of ‘My body, my choice’ seemed hollow when we realised the only ‘choice’ they respected was one which conformed to their own beliefs.
This was echoed in their behaviour too as they only seemed to obey the laws that suited them. Not content with pushing over a barrier to enter the event area armed with red smoke ‘bombs’ because they disapproved of our beliefs, they decided to blockade our way on the march because they disapproved of our choice to process through the streets. They barred the pathway bringing the thousands of marchers to a temporary halt. As I walked along the line of marchers apologising for the delay and explaining that since protesters had blocked our way we had to wait for police to move them, not one complaint did I hear despite the fact that people were drenched from the torrential rain. One priest was spat on but showed Christ-like serenity and refused to be provoked. People waited patiently, a young man eased himself out of his wheelchair and dropped to his knees to pray, others sang joyfully in the face of a baying mob who were shouting at the top of their voices ‘You’re not going to march, you’re not going to march!’ . . . but God was with us and we did.
While the police forced the protesters to move I turned to one attendee and told him how sorry I was if it was not what he had expected, wondering anxiously if he had been put off pro-life work for good. He replied ‘I found my calling today. I want to get my whole community involved in this work”.
The day ended with Bishop McKinney leading us in prayer, then as I listened to the beautiful voice of Martin Aelred singing I reflected on what I’d learnt about pro-lifers that day: no matter how long it takes, no matter who tries to shout them down, they would be patient but they would win this battle. With the future in the hands of pro-lifers such as these, the tide will turn.