When a great tragedy occurs in a community, caring citizens often come together to grieve, pay their respects to the victims and to show support for those left behind. Flowers are laid at the site and often candle light vigils are held in order to grieve and pray. As a people we recognise the injustice of what has occurred and we reach out in compassion and charity.
It doesn’t take much reflection to recall the numerous occasions this has happened in recent history. In the past twelve months there have been two tragic events in New Zealand which elicited such an outpouring of grief, compassion and due respect from people throughout the nation and abroad. The two events: the Christchurch shootings, and the murder of the British tourist, Grace Millane.
It is this same motivation, that many will relate to, which draws people of good will to be present outside facilities where abortion takes place.
Where it is commendable for people to gather in the aftermath of the tragic events mentioned above, the opposite is true when the vigil occurs to remember the deaths of those who never had the opportunity to live outside their mother’s wombs.
The simple act of peacefully standing outside an abortion facility has become so deplorable for some that active measures are being taken to remove the rights of responsible and caring citizens to do so.
A great tragedy occurs in abortion facilities because abortion intentionally takes the life of an unborn child
Induced abortion is the intentional and direct ending of a human life through a violent “surgical” procedure or by the use of lethal drugs.
Attempting to sanitise the practice by calling it “health care” and the removal of “pregnancy tissue” or “products of conception” doesn’t change this fact. Neither can claiming a right to access a procedure that apparently allows women the freedom to be in charge of “her” own body.
The authors of the volume Before we are born: essentials of human embryology are clear about the humanity of life from fertilization stating:
“the scientific answer is that the embryo is a human being from the time of fertilization because of its human chromosomal constitution. The zygote is the beginning of a developing human.”
Former abortion workers also attest to the humanity of the unborn children in whose demise they have played a part. One such former abortion provider, Dr Anthony Levantino, describes viewing the living child through ultrasound:
“As a doctor, you know that there are children; you know that these are human beings with arms and legs and heads and they move around and are very, very active. But you get reminded. Because you see the children in there—hearts beating, arms flinging.”
Reality cuts through the efforts to dehumanise the most innocent and vulnerable among us.
The philosophy of a peaceful presence outside abortion facilities
Oftentimes a peaceful, prayerful vigil is mistaken for a protest of abortion law. We abhor the practice of abortion and desire a culture that protects human life from the first moment of its existence, however, our purpose is not to protest the civil law. That kind of protest is far more beneficial at Parliament or other public places where such demonstrations take place. Outside abortion facilities a certain sensitivity is required.
Our purpose is to be at the physical place where babies are dying. We are there to pray, to make reparation for the shedding of innocent blood and to offer hope and healing to mothers, fathers and abortion workers.
Monsignor Reilly, the founder of the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, explains perfectly the philosophy of a prayerful presence outside abortion facilities.
“…we make visible to society that there is a victim and we make visible to the victim, the merciful love of Jesus Christ. We must go to the place where the victim is being crucified. The unborn child cannot speak. Our presence is needed at the abortion mill. We are the voice of the unborn on the public sidewalks. It gives a general witness to the community that there is a killing center in the neighbourhood. We unite ourselves with these victims in solidarity with their pain, as they die. We pray in reparation for the injustice that is being performed on their tiny bodies. Just as Mary and John lovingly stood and prayed beneath Jesus’ Cross as he died, we wish to remain with these children in the hour that they too are crucified.”
Our peaceful presence becomes a sign of contradiction to the violence that occurs within the four walls of the building we stand outside of.
Offering hope and concrete solutions
For all the pro-abortion rhetoric about “choice”, the only real choice which is offered to women who enter an abortion facility is abortion.
While it is true that many women have already decided to go ahead with an abortion when they arrive for their appointment, some are looking for alternatives. It has been reported by former abortion workers in the United States that as many as 75% of women don’t show up for their appointments when there is a prayerful presence. We have heard of New Zealand women who have chosen life for their babies just because people sacrificed their time to be a peaceful witness to life.
It is essential that we offer real choices – concrete solutions – to women who are trying to navigate the difficulties that life is presenting at this moment. Each woman’s situation is unique to her, yet a common desire is to not feel alone. A peaceful presence offers hope in that tragic moment.
For those who have experienced abortion, both women and men, there is an opportunity to face the reality of what they have participated in. This reality is a heavy burden to bear, but there is hope and forgiveness for all those who seek it.
Love for abortion workers
Many people are involved in the provision of abortion. LabTest drivers, those who pick up medical “waste” or pick up the dirty laundry, cleaners, office workers, nurses and abortion practitioners.
Our presence is an important reminder to each of them, no matter how small their involvement, that they participate in a grisly business masquerading as health care. Despite this, and while we can never condone what they do, we extend love to abortion workers. We must love them just as much as the mothers and babies and give them opportunities to turn to us for help and healing.
Prayer really is the answer
There are so many important activities that we, as a people of life must undertake to truly build a culture that embraces the gift of life. Of all of them, being there at the site where babies die is of significant importance. If a peaceful, prayerful presence is of no use, why does the government see the need to try and restrain peaceful citizens from praying on the pavement?
Speaking of his presence at a prayer vigil, the late Cardinal George of Chicago eloquently explains the importance of this peaceful, prayerful activity.
“I was there because it must be said again and again that our society cannot indefinitely sustain the playing off of a mother’s freedom against the death of her child. The country itself will eventually come apart. And I was there because no mere argument, no matter how well crafted, will convince those who sincerely believe in a civil right, to abort a baby. What is left, along with peaceful and respectful discussion in the public forum, is prayer, in season and out of season.”
Will you join us in prayer outside abortion facilities? Will you stand as a peaceful witness to life and lovingly offer hope?
Every Wednesday 9:30am to 10:30am outside Auckland Medical Aid Centre
283-289 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden
This small, faithful group gather on the opposite side of the road by the ASB and follow the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants prayers.
Vigil for the Unborn
Saturday 16 November at 10am
St Anne’s Catholic Church, Emmett Street, Newtown.
Begins with Holy Mass. Eucharistic Adoration and Rosary Prayer Procession to Wellington Hospital.
For more information about this vigil please contact Clare 021 231 7954
40 Days for Life
The next 40 Days for Life vigil will be held in 2020. This is an ecumenical vigil suitable for all people of faith to participate in. Details about vigil dates, sites and how to register will be announced shortly.