London delivered glorious sunshine and the biggest ever turn-out for this year’s March for Life UK – an estimated 4000 people joyfully witnessing to their belief that every life deserves love; from womb to tomb and from conception without exception.
Christian faith is at the heart of today’s pro-life movement, just as it was in the struggles of previous centuries to end the slave trade and secure universal civil rights. The story of the faithful Hebrew midwives in the Book of Exodus, which featured in the opening prayer service at the Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden, has a special significance for Mary Doogan; one of the two Glasgow midwives who spent seven years battling for their right to exercise conscientious objection to involvement with abortion. At one of the morning workshops, Mary stressed that
“It’s an insult to people who don’t believe in God, to say that they don’t have a conscience.”
She also mentioned however that the final 2014 appeal case fought by her and her colleague Concepta Wood began at the UK Supreme Court on Parliament Square on Armistice Day, 11th November; a date which cropped up again when the March had made its way to that same place, later in the day. Claire McCullough of the Good Counsel Network told of a woman who came to her, in desperate need of support, who was pregnant after being raped. The marchers had all heard the inspirational testimony of Christie Spurling, CEO of N-Gage, who was conceived in rape; but it’s not unheard of for police to tell women in such circumstances that their assailant will escape prosecution unless they abort their child. Yet this mother of two girls felt a maternal love for the life within her; and moreover had always wanted a boy, who she would call Martin. Thanks to the support of the Good Counsel Network, her son was born on St Martin’s day, 11th November. Raising an issue of vital importance to the pro-life movement in our own time, Claire warned that
“Pro-Life apathy is the ‘buffer zone’ we have to fight hardest, and for the sake of the unborn it’s a fight we have to win.”
A special highlight of the day was the magnificent and courageous testimony of Charlotte Fein. Referring to the upcoming referendum in Ireland which could have such awful implications for infinitely precious people like her, with Down’s Syndrome, she said:
“Ireland is not like Iceland, Denmark or the UK. Ireland is a moral country.”
Bishop John Wilson quoted Pope Francis:
“Let us say yes to love and not selfishness. Let us say yes to life and not death”; and Bishop John Keenan pointed out that
“There’s always a better choice than abortion. We are “pro-choice” because there’s always a better choice than abortion.”
Just as memorable and important though, for the first time an Anglican Bishop, Michael Nazir-Ali, gave the closing remarks and prayer:
“Lord, make us worthy Apostles of the Culture of Life in our day!”
No one was left unmoved by CBRUK’s Aisling Herbert, meditating on the battleground which is the hearts and minds of our nation; and Joy Villa, whose pro-life dress caused such a stir at this year’s Grammies, spoke powerfully about her decision to go through with a crisis pregnancy and have her child adopted. Rachel MacKenzie from Rachel’s Vineyard has dedicated her life to the priceless service of post-abortive ministry. Her candid testimony made a tremendous impression not only on the marchers, but also on some of the protestors who greeted us on Parliament Square.
Joy Villa, though, encapsulated this wonderful day for many of the participants:
“We’re providing light in these dark times. We are not protesting – we’re CELEBRATING that life begins at conception. A baby’s life doesn’t end when the government says it ends – babies deserve just as much right as we do, to LIFE. Let’s be the light and love for London today.”