Thousands gathered to voice their commitment to defending the pro-life laws of Northern Ireland on Saturday, July 7th at the All Ireland Rally For Life 2018.
This year, the event was held in Belfast (alternating each year with Dublin) and it was almost ironic the new location for the northern rally was the Stormont parliament buildings — the home of Northern Irish politics which has been without a power-sharing Executive for over a year and a half.
The event began at 2pm with traditional Irish music from a team of pre-teen children, followed by some opening remarks by DUP MLA Jim Wells — an outspoken supporter of preborn life.
A man introduced as Reverend Jack prayed, then Dr. John Littell of Florida Hospital came to the podium and told how he works with a team of physicians in the U.S. to reverse the abortion pill, RU-486. He is a family physician, with a special interest in pregnancy and a passion for protecting the preborn. “‘A person’s a person, no matter how small,’ wrote Dr. Seuss,” Littell said. “And children can see that. If your children can see that, why can your politicians not? Jesus said to let the children come to Him because children see the light, and truth.”
Later in his speech, he expressed gratitude for his President, Donald Trump, telling the cheering Irish crowds, “Donald Trump has done more to help the pro-life cause in a year and a half than previous presidents have done in the past 30 years.” He encouraged everyone in attendance to pray regarding the appointment of the new SCOTUS judge.
Next, a woman introduced as Adele stepped up to the microphone and shared her heartbreaking experience of being forced into having two abortions. She began by giving all the credit, praise and glory to Jesus Christ, her Savior — the One who had healed her from the devastating after-effects of her abortions.
She disclosed how one abortion had been forced by her doctor, and one had been forced by her partner. She regretted that no nurse, doctor, or midwife had taken her aside to ask her if there was any abuse in her relationship, because she would have readily told them and most likely kept the baby. With a strong voice, she shared how she turned to drinking and drugs on a daily basis just to try to function after the abortions. She hated herself, and described how she would physically start shaking and vomiting anytime she saw a pregnant woman or a young child. Any visit to a doctor or dentist would trigger physical tremors as she would experience vivid flashbacks. She told how she had wanted to die, and heard voices in her head telling her to take her own life.
But then she found freedom in Jesus, and shares her story now “to save others from going through what I went through.” She boldly declared, “The abortion industry is pro-cash, not pro-choice.” And she tore through the airfare arguments by saying, “My suffering was not from having to travel to England for the procedure — my suffering came from the procedure itself.”
Then, a woman named Yvonne Morgan took to the stage along with her twin toddler daughters, whose lives had been saved by volunteers at Stanton Healthcare — a life-affirming pregnancy clinic in Belfast. It was a joy to see two little smiling faces which would not have been there if Northern Ireland were under the 1967 Abortion Act the rest of the UK is under. Morgan claimed the current law of the land that does not allow for abortion gave her the time she needed to navigate the initial shock of finding out she was pregnant and allowed her to make an informed decision, instead of an impulsive one.
Vicky from Every Life Counts shared her devastating experience of her preborn daughter being diagnosed with Trisomy 18. She recalled on hearing the news, she asked her doctor, “What can we do?”, her intention being to help or save her daughter. But her doctor replied, “The only thing you can do is pop to England for a termination.” But Vicky refused. She consulted a trusted friend, who advised her to take a leave of absence from work to enjoy whatever time she would have with the baby… her daughter’s ‘first steps,’ in a sense. So she did.
Her testimony highlighted the humanity of the preborn child; even though her daughter died before birth, Vicky learned so much about her. “She loved cake,” Vicky said, “She would always kick more after I’d eaten cake, and a doctor told me that she could taste the cake’s sweetness in the amniotic fluid. She had a mop of curly black hair, a birthmark and long, beautiful fingers.” Vicky also spoke out boldly against those who argue for abortion on the grounds of fatal fetal abnormalities. “My baby was human, and special, and loved.”
Halfway through the rally, Precious Life founder Bernadette Smyth took the stage to a roar of applause. She said it was now time to remember why we were all there. We must remember the unborn. She quoted Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel: “To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.” She described how she had visited Liverpool to campaign for Alfie Evans’ release from Alder Hey Hospital: “Every day I was there, there was a helicopter waiting to take that precious child to the hospital in Italy, but he was denied his right to life. He was even denied a basic right to hydration and water. Alfie was systematically murdered. Every day, children are systematically murdered in their mothers’ wombs. We must remember them and stand in the gap for them.”
A minute’s silence for all those slain by abortion was followed by live performances of two beautiful pro-life songs, before Tim Jackson of Donegal Pro-Life gave a rallying speech on the importance of showing pictures of aborted babies and exposing what abortion actually does. “We need to step up and use photos and videos to show the reality of abortion.” He also mentioned that news on a court challenge to the 8th Amendment vote would be announced the following week.
Niamh Uí Bhriain, leader of the Irish ‘Save the 8th’ campaign, strode onto the stage next, her passion undiminished after the shock of the Referendum on May 25th. “Nothing — absolutely nothing — is made better by the killing of a child,” she said. “Time will show we are on the right side of history.” She quoted J.R.R. Tolkien: “So much death. What can man do against such reckless hate?” as she encouraged all in attendance to keep standing for life and keep fighting against abortion. “Real compassion doesn’t kill an unborn child. Real compassion offers mothers better. A child's life is worth fighting for, a mother's heart is worth fighting for, and there is still some good in this world and it is worth fighting for.”
A few more pro-life songs and then Bernadette Smyth took the stage again for a closing call to action. She, too, quoted Tolkien: “I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo. "So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Then, she quoted the abolitionist, Frederick Douglass: “It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.” She insisted that the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed and indicated those gathered had been called to take action. “We need to get active and use our resources, gifts, and talents. We are not couch potato pro-lifers. We are active pro-lifers. We need to bring graphic images — we must use every opportunity to expose this bloody horror. New scientific evidence shows that preborn babies can cry in the womb. They show a pouting lip when they’re tired and there is evidence of them crying. It’s time to throw off the apathy that the enemy of life has sown through this land,” she declared. “We will only lose if we give up and do nothing. We must rise up as people of faith that God has called for such a time as this. We will work and pray to end abortion. The north is next? I don't think so!”
The rally ended with a prayer in which those gathered were reminded they were not called to be popular, but to obey the words of Jesus.
It was a powerful rally, well attended by everyone — except the local media. Though invited, none of them showed up. There were no news crews, film cameras, or reporters. Just an army of Irish citizens from the island’s north and south, from both Catholic and Protestant backgrounds, standing united for the sanctity of human life.