Despite the 27th April being a weekday evening, and a very wet and inhospitable one at that, hundreds gathered at Westminster Cathedral Piazza to remember those who had their lives ended or wounded by the implementation of the Abortion Act in the UK 55 years ago.
Mercifully the weather eased off as the prayer vigil began and those present each lit a candle creating a sea of lights in the darkening evening. Madeline Page from the Alliance of Prolife Students introduced the first religious leader who was to speak; Lynda Rose, an Anglican priest.
Lynda spoke of the severity of the issue of abortion, saying ‘In the ancient battle between good and evil, between the devil and God, abortion is a weapon of mass destruction.’ She continued ‘Friends – brothers and sisters – whether you’ve had an abortion yourself, been wounded by the abortion of another, or simply weep for the deaths of the innocent, who can’t defend themselves – make your voices heard, and refuse to be silenced.’ Lynda ended by speaking to those who have been personally affected by abortion, telling them ‘There is nothing more powerful than the testimony of those who literally bear the scars, whether visible or hidden. So refuse now to be silenced. For the sake of those already sacrificed, and those who face sacrifice today, tomorrow, for the salvation of humanity, make your voice heard.’
The second religious leader to speak was familiar to many for his work in broadcasting: Rev Calvin Robinson from the Free Church of England. Calvin shared his concerns about the recent restrictions on praying near abortion centres, particularly regarding silent prayer. He stated ‘By praying in one’s head one is not obstructing anyone’s right to do anything – The right to pray, freedom of expression, freedom of thought, freedom of worship, that is what is being threatened in this country right now! The opportunity to end human life is not at risk at all unfortunately.’ Calvin went on to praise the work of those who pray and offer help and alternatives outside abortion centres. He explained ‘We owe every mother the opportunity to make an informed decision whilst we still have the option of legalised death in this country . . . abortion is not healthcare it is legalised death.’
The final religious leader was Fr Pius Collins, a Nortbertine priest from the Roman Catholic Church. Fr Pius began by noting how ‘we have seen the onward march of societal forces determined to ensure that this culture (or rather “anti-culture”) pervades almost every level of society, in which the strong oppress the weakest members of our society and call it choice and freedom. Whose choice? What freedom?’ Many in the crowd nodded in assent as Fr Pius added that ‘Abortion does not free women from being a mother, for only a mother can have an abortion; it does not free men from becoming fathers, it makes them absent fathers. In choosing to end a life so new, all freedom and promise is taken from those we are meant to protect. Abortion is not a sign of freedom, but of our captivity and slavery to sin.’
Fr Pius movingly shared something of his own personal experience ‘I have never been in the position of a mother or father contemplating abortion or having to deal with an unplanned pregnancy, or a child with a severe disability. However, in the course of my ministry I have held in my hands and cradled in my arms the mortal remains of an aborted child. Something that will never leave me as long as I shall live.’ Fr Pius concluded ‘As a society, as a people, as a nation we have all been wounded by abortion. This must change. This will change.’
The crowd then sang the final hymn and all three religious leaders joined together to lead those gathered in a prayer. MC, Madeline, reminded everyone to not be afraid of sharing with others where they had spent their Thursday evening, in fact to use this as an opportunity to start a conversation on the important topic of abortion. As a conclusion, a reminder was given to return to London for the March for Life UK main event on Saturday 2nd Sept. One woman present reported how much the event meant for her, particularly when the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ was sung. ‘I had an abortion some time ago and I came this evening to remember that daughter. I had called her Nancy Grace so when we sang Amazing Grace I felt as though the whole crowd was recognizing how precious my little girl was and is.’
Thank you to all who came along to this event – a particular shout out to those who travelled all the way from Scotland to be with us and thank you if you joined us online too.
If you want to help support events like these then consider making a donation to March for Life UK below.