Emily’s Voice is a pro-life organisation that represents the 80,000 plus “little Australians” each year who won’t be given the chance to experience life outside the womb. SELINA VENIER spoke to their new CEO Paul O’Rourke
AS Catholics prepare to join the Rally for Life in Queens Park, Brisbane city, on February 11, Paul O’Rourke is another pro-life advocate in the fight for the unborn.
The former head of Compassion Australia said “a number of things converged” to lead to his new role as chief executive officer of Emily’s Voice, a Toowoomba-based outreach representing the 80,000 plus “little Australians” who are aborted each year.
“Our son and daughter-in-law started fostering children,” Paul said.
“… Our daughter was working as a caseworker with troubled youth.
“(And) my wife and I joined a mentoring program for youth through our church and I completed a Masters Degree in Holistic Child Development which caused me to research the many pressing issues affecting Australian children.”
Those experiences led to Paul writing Why Satan Hates our Children: How Children are Suffering and Why the Church Should Care.
It was published with support from the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL).
While “once remarking the only charity” he would lead, apart from Compassion, would be Emily’s Voice, prayer and discernment led to its reality.
On prayer, Paul said it’s “vital to touching heaven and earth”.
“Abortion is the physical manifestation of a spiritual problem,” he said.
“As (the Gospel of St) John 10:10 says: ‘The enemy comes to steal and kill and destroy but I (Jesus) have come that we might have abundant life’.
“The apostle Paul also reminds us throughout scripture that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers and world rulers of this present darkness.
“Our weapons are not carnal but spiritual.
“Prayer is one of our core values and a central plank of our strategy (for Emily’s Voice).”
Beginning four years ago, the charities’ directors and volunteers are all Christians and from “various denominations”.
“Emily’s Voice was birthed with the administrative support of Toowoomba City Church and most supporters have a faith,” Paul said.
“(It) has sought funding, prayer and advocacy from among the Church in Toowoomba, although anyone who supports the cause is welcome.”
The outreach has recently launched a new advertising campaign about the short and long-term impact of abortion – Someone’s Missing.
It won an award for the best advertisement under $3000 at the Queensland Multi-Media Awards presented on November 5 in Cairns.
“In Someone’s Missing, Toowoomba mum Madeleine Wiedemann talks of her grief and shame as a result of having an abortion at age 18,” Paul said.
“Now married with a young daughter, Evy, Madeleine said she made a tragic and ill-informed choice which she profoundly regretted.”
The advertisement is one in a series of eight themed Notbornyet.
On the heels of that publicity, future plans for Emily’s Voice are at the forefront of Paul’s mind.
“We want to see abortion as abhorrent, reprehensible, unnecessary and unacceptable as we have made smoking, using many of the same strategies,” he said.
“Who would have thought even a decade ago that we would be able to ban smoking from the public bar of the local pub?
“We want to show Australians that abortion is dangerous, lethal and vile, both for the mother and her unborn child.
“We also want to humanise and personalise the unborn and show women there are alternatives to abortion.”
Emily’s Voice is making such outcomes come about through “clever, positive and provocative television advertising that is educational, disarming and thought-provoking”, Paul said.
“We have been trialling our ads for the past few years in Toowoomba – both to perfect the message and raise support to take our message nationally.
“The ads feature real people sharing about why they did not have an abortion despite having an unplanned or difficult pregnancy.
“We have purposely chosen local people to tell their personal stories … (and) because they are real, we can identify with them.”
Paul said the advertisements aim to help overcome negativity and the “shock” factor often experienced by mothers-to-be.
“It is a shock to find out you are having a child, particularly when the pregnancy is unplanned,” he said.
“(And) you feel ill-equipped to become a parent because of age, financial pressures or circumstances surrounding conception.
“Yet the stories tell of individuals and families who chose to continue the pregnancy and are glad they did.”
The “core message” of the publicity is “we coped and you can too”.
Paul said Madeleine’s story in particular highlighted “the unexpected physical and emotional effects of having an abortion”.
“Various surveys show that most Australians believe women should make an informed choice about continuing a pregnancy, including being told of the risks of abortion, its potential long-term effects, getting independent counselling and receiving information and support when choosing alternatives to abortion,” he said.
“Surveys also show that Australians believe there are too many abortions … (and) we are simply highlighting the beauty, potential and value of the unborn, and stimulating Australians to rethink a vital issue.
“Abortion is the ‘slavery’ issue of our day and therefore requires an unprecedented advertising and social media response.”
For more about Emily’s Voice go to www.emilysvoice.com and to find out about next month’s Rally for Life call (07) 3841 2445 or visit www.rallyforlife.com.au