Respect for human life an absolute and basic principle

“A great prayer for life is urgently needed, a prayer which will rise up throughout the world.”  Saint Pope John Paul II called for this prayer in his great encyclical letter “Evangelium Vitae”.

The fulfilment of this request happens in a very special way during Lent, as people throughout the world gather outside abortion facilities in their local communities to pray for an end to abortion and to stand in witness to the grave crime that happens every day in our midst.


Help save lives: praying for an end to abortion

A great prayer for life JPIIThis week is historic for New Zealand.  For the first time, there will be simultaneous prayer vigils outside abortion facilities in three major cities in New Zealand for a full 40 days!  Not only that, various other cities are holding vigils in solidarity, and thousands more will pray in their homes and in their places of worship to bring about the end of abortion in our land!  Our dream is that all believers will sense the urgency to petition God in all humility, to bring about the end of abortion in New Zealand.


Why I stand and pray for an end to abortion

Christ holding unborn child in his handsAs I arrived at AMAC (the Auckland Medical Aid Centre – an abortion facility) this afternoon to pray for an end to abortion, for all those involved and most especially for the mothers and babies, I was greeted by a beautiful sight.

A young mother was standing just outside the doors of AMAC, holding her little girl – she must have been about 7 months – and they were delighting in the small world flags flapping in the wind.  These flags are adorning all the buildings down Dominion Road for the Cricket World Cup.


Praying for an end to abortion in NZ

40 Days for Life WellingtonAll around the world people are attending 40 Days for Life prayer vigils outside their local abortion facilities.  They know that their presence is vital to help save lives and to bring about the end of abortion through a deep trust in God.

Today is day 9 of the vigil, which lasts for 40 days in succession.  This is the second time New Zealand has officially participated in the world-wide prayer effort.  The vigils are taking place outside Wellington Hospital and the Auckland Medical Aid Centre (AMAC).


Wellington: Reflection on 40 Days for Life

Wellington 40 Days for Lifeby Clare McClean
Co-ordinator of Family Life International NZ’s John Paul II Centre for Life in Wellington and leader of 40 Days for Life in Wellington

With just four days remaining of 40 Days for Life it is time to reflect on some of our experiences at the vigil site.

Fore mostly, the footpath outside Wellington Hospital has been a place of consistent prayer, but it has also been a place of encounter with the public.

We have had some amazing opportunities to pray with, and for, the sick and to also witness to the sanctity of human life. What have been particularly exciting are the few dialogues where an initially angry person has come to understand and accept the need to stand up for our defenceless and innocent unborn brothers and sisters. “You’ve got me,” said one professional hospital staff member who later admitted after a long discussion, “You are right.”

Then there are the public who have stopped to encourage us with statements like:

“Thank you for what you are doing.”
“Keep it up.”
“Hope you are going to have another 40 days after this one.”
“Seeing you here every day has made me consider our duty as Christians to stand up for the defenceless today”
“I am an atheist but what you are doing is right, it’s a matter of logic, and I don’t understand why all Christians aren’t here with you.”
“Can I pray with you?”

We’ve also been made acutely aware of the pain in society inflicted by the culture of death.

People have wanted to come and share their heart wrenching stories with us. Amongst these encounters are someone whose sister committed suicide after two forced abortions; a grandparent who felt helpless to save a grandchild from abortion; and someone who agonises for flatmates who have been changed by abortion and are no longer able to function “normally.”

In these encounters people are able to appreciate what 40 Days for Life is about. They understand the need to stand peacefully and prayerfully keeping watch, waiting for the day when unborn children will be treasured and women will no longer be exploited in our hospital. They ‘get it’.  They know we are there to be a loving presence, support for the dying ; a hand of hope and help for the families of the unborn children and a witness to the truth.  They know that in a just society the right to life is upheld for all.

However, there are still those who wrongly perceive both us and the reality of abortion. Some of the slogans uttered by passers-by are so ironic. Ponder a moment on these two slogans, particularly in relation to the reality of the abortion procedures,

“no unwanted babies” and “no forced labour”.

Are not both slogans in reality a good description of what abortion truly is: a premature forced labour and the abandonment and rejection of children?

Why is there such a disconnect with logic and reality on our streets?

Why is it that despite our efforts to explain that 40 Days for Life’s visual presence is a prayer vigil, the media and some of the public insist we are “protestors” holding a “protest.”

Why are there rumours spread about (by people who admit they have not yet seen 40 Days for Life) that we are there arguing with people.

Why is it that the feminist blogger referred to our presence as creating an ideological clash!

After all our signs have positive and life-affirming messages eg. “Saving lives, offering hope” ; “We can help 0800 367 5433” ; “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” and even the one that reads “Pray for an end to abortion” simply informs the public of our mission while inviting them to join in. Most of the time we are praying but if we are asked questions we answer them. We have been on the other end of all sorts of loud, rude and annoying retorts. Yet we come to be called the ones described as harassing, argumentative and ideological. What we are doing is being deliberately distorted and misrepresented.

We can though look to Pope Francis for some light on the matter. In Evangelii Gaudium he says “Frequently as a way of ridiculing the Church’s effort to defend their (= the unborn) lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative.”

We have no ideology to push; no political agenda up our sleeve. We are concerned about a life and death issue affecting the very core of our society: individuals within families. We are standing for what is good, what is true and what is beautiful – the right for everyone to be given a chance at life. The right to life is the most fundamental of all human rights and in fact from the right to life all other human rights spring, including authentic women’s rights.

The difficulty for those who label us as protestors lies in the fact that the truth we speak and the goodness we pray for is at variance with the current ideology of New Zealand’s political parties and those accusing us falsely, that is, secular democracy. Having done away with absolute truth and fallen upon the way of relativism, New Zealand politics fails to recognise absolute truths like the right to life. They fail to look outside of their own wishes and thoughts to seek what is true. Truth changes in a secular democracy according to the current whim of the sitting parliament. If we vigil prayers put our trust in politics alone then we would be protesting!

However, a lie cannot last forever! The humanity of the unborn child will again one day be recognised; the dignity of women will again be upheld and abortion will no longer be classified as healthcare. In this we hope and pray during all 40 Days and beyond.



Men have a critical role in ending abortion

Last week Auckland 40 Days for Life vigil attendees witnessed a heartbreaking story unfold before their eyes.

A distraught father exited AMAC, paced up and down the footpath before approaching our co-ordinator, Mark. This man did not want his girlfriend to undergo the abortion she was booked in for that day. Mark was able to talk to the man offering the practical help that was needed. He walked off with our Pregnant? Worried? card which explains what help we can offer. Shortly thereafter the Police were called into AMAC (we presume by the staff). They stayed for some time, then left. Later on that day, when the abortions were about to take place, the Police arrived again. It is our belief that this man, who had no say in the fate of his child, was causing trouble in his distress. The Police no doubt were called to restrain him while his girlfriend underwent the “procedure”.

Men have been pushed aside. Abortion has been marketed to society as a “women’s issue”. The bait has even been taken by good Christian pro-life men.

But abortion doesn’t just effect women.  Abortion effects men too.

It is vital that as we work to end abortion people see and hear good strong men speaking up for women and for children.  Strong pro-life men need to be there for the men who have no say in the fate of their unborn children.  They need to be there to send a peaceful message of disapproval to the men who gladly bring their girlfriends and wives to the abortion clinic.  Women need to know that not all men abandon them.

Post-abortive men need to share their stories, so that their experiences can be heard too.

Men are critical to ending abortion because they have a vital part to play in the continuance of abortion.

It suits many men that they can sleep around without the commitment that parenthood or marriage brings.  Abortion allows a man to objectify a woman, gives him permission to have an affair, and grants him the ability to wash his hands of the situation when a child is conceived.

The presence of men at our 40 Days for Life vigil outside AMAC has brought both criticism and praise.  The criticism comes from those whom you would least likely expect.  The praise from women passing by, glad to see men being a voice for women and unborn children.

Would the distraught father mentioned above approached our small group if there had been no man present?  Maybe, maybe not.  But he needed another man that day to walk with him.  It will be a day he never forgets.

Now is the time for our men to speak up, to promote life and to uphold the dignity of women and children.  You have a right.  Society has a need for your voice.  Together we will end abortion.


40 Days for Life: inspiring stories of hope

Day 6 of 40 Days for Life is just beginning.  Because it is a new week, I thought it might be worthwhile to reflect on a few of the things that have inspired and encouraged me so far.  I am sure that others have incredible stories to tell too (please let me know, I would love to share them).  Maybe my experiences will inspire and give hope to you too.

1.  A woman turned away!  On our very first morning outside AMAC, our vigiler’s noticed that a woman went to open the door of AMAC (it is the only door in and out), she hesitated and turned away.  After waiting for some time, looking distressed, the woman walked away from this place of death.  No one has seen her return.  We continue to keep her very close to our hearts as we pray for her and the situation she is experiencing right now.

2.  Mark, the co-ordinator of 40 Days for Life in New Zealand, spoke to the abortionist.  On the very first day, a man (whom we believe to be the abortionist) walked out of AMAC and approached Mark.  He said that we “embarrass” the girls, he also attacked the faith of those gathered.  While this may seem like a negative, it is unusual for anyone to come out across the road and engage with people standing outside of AMAC.  It shows our presence has an impact on the staff.

3.  Committment.  So many wonderful people have taken time out of their very busy days to stand at this place of death and pray for the unborn, their mothers and fathers, the staff, and for an end to abortion in New Zealand.  A number of people have stood literally for four, five or more hours a day, every day since Wednesday.  Others, like Peter, have had to navigate the buses to get there.  Still others arrive for an hour, but linger on…  Thank you.

4.  Random acts of kindness.  It can be a little disconcerting standing outside the clinic.  Abortion after all is one of those silent issues that you don’t speak about, who knows what people will say or do.  While there’s been the odd angry person walk or drive past, and people do like to express their opinion (often in foul language), in my experience the good far outweighs the bad.  Here’s a few examples:

  • a woman stopped to say how she walks past often and admires those that stand here and asked us to please keep it up (we have a group that keeps a weekly Wednesday morning vigil throughout the year too);
  • another woman had just been to the supermarket and had a big bunch of fresh grapes, she walked past, saw the signs, stopped and gave us the grapes – it was her way of supporting us;
  • a security guy approached me while I was standing alone with the signs wondering what I was doing – it turns out that 13 years ago, he and his now wife almost aborted their daughter.  “We were young he said, we didn’t know what to do”.  But they didn’t have her aborted.  They gave life to their baby and now she is a pre-teen with two siblings. “Keep it up” he said as he went on his way;
  • a Christian man stopped (while I was alone) to talk about how his wife had had an abortion before they were married.  I could see how deeply this had affected their lives, the love he had for his wife and his sorrow at the pain she suffered.  “We were young” he said, “we didn’t know, but we do now”.  He prayed for me.  I appreciated his story, his honesty.  I can’t help but wonder, if there had been people standing witnessing when his wife went for her abortion, would they have gone through with it?

5.  Universal Prayer.  It has been incredible knowing that this isn’t just a small group of people in Auckland making an effort for Lent.  40 Days for Life is universal.  There is another vigil outside Wellington Hospital, where I know they are experiencing all sorts of blessings and graces.  There are thousands of people praying throughout New Zealand for the end of abortion.  These prayers support those who vigil outside the places of death.  They are very necessary.  But what I find truly amazing is that there are thousands of people storming heaven, asking for God’s mercy and being a sign of hope in 253 locations in 12 countries.  So far 38 babies and their mums have been saved from abortion because people have been there at that greatest hour of need.  This is a time of great grace.

6.  God’s Grace.  This was never supposed to be about me.  But standing the few hours I have managed outside AMAC has been filled with unexpected grace for me.  I can feel God working in my heart, changing me, molding me, making me more like Him.  I am more patient at home with my children.  I am acutely aware of my own sins and failings.  I want to reach out and love each person who walks past as I see their pain, their anger, their loneliness and their indifference.  Standing at this calgary, the enormity of the passion of Jesus Christ, is becoming so real, so tangible in a way I have never experienced before.

I wonder what God has in store for this week?

To join the vigil go to 40daysforlife.com/auckland or 40daysforlife.com/wellington