AN organiser of Brisbane’s annual Right To Life march last weekend reminded the 150 marchers gathered at the rally’s end that in the year since they last met “more than 15,000 lives have been claimed by abortion in Queensland”.
Rally organiser and Queensland co-ordinator for RTL Australia Graham Preston also later told The Catholic Leader it was a tragedy more people did not march to support the pro-life initiative.
Mr Preston’s comments were supported by Cherish Life Queensland president Teresa Martin who took part in the march and who noted “at times as many as six thousand had often marched in pro-life rallies in the ’70s and ’80s and it was heartbreaking that so few were now involved in the issue”.
The Walk for Little Feet protest march on May 8 started at a Salisbury abortion clinic and travelled for more than 12km into the heart of the city.
Mr Preston told last weekend’s gathering that hundreds of thousands of young lives had been lost since the march began 21 years ago.
“It is wonderful to meet and socialise with pro-life people,” Mr Preston told those assembled in the city’s botanic gardens as a contingent of about 20 police looked on.
“However, it would be even more wonderful if the day came when we didn’t need to march because the tragedy of abortion had ended.”
The police were on standby in case of a repeat of the event’s disruption by protesters as had happened at the 2009 march.
The march had been scheduled to finish at Parliament House, but police advised organisers to keep pro-life marchers away to avoid conflict.
The same situation occurred this year and again advice was given to finish the rally away from Parliament House.
The police presence at last weekend’s march proved necessary as a small group of about 12 vocal protesters made their way down from their pro-abortion protest in front of Parliament House to confront the marchers.
Speaking after the rally, Mr Preston said things seemed to have “gone quiet” in relation to the push for changes to decriminalise abortion in Queensland.
“However, it would be wrong to assume that there will not be further attempts to change abortion laws in Queensland as they have done so drastically in Victoria,” Mr Preston said.
“Events such as the Walk for Little Feet are essential to raise public awareness of the issue.
“Society wants to turn a blind eye to this evil, but the goal of Right To Life is to keep the issue in the public eye.”
Mr Preston said despite the inevitable aggressive and abusive responses, public response to the rally had been mainly positive.
“What’s really disappointing, however, is that no matter how hard we seem to push we always seem to have about the same numbers participating in the march,” he said.
“We let churches of all denominations know but we always seem to get around 150 marchers which is about one per cent of what we need to make an impact.
“This is a tiny number when you consider that in San Fran-cisco pro-life people attending this year’s rally numbered about 35,000 – and this is from a city of about 800,000 people.
“Brisbane’s population is much larger.”
Ms Martin was an organiser of this year’s Cherish Life Queensland Rally for Life which drew more than 1000 supporters to Queens Park in the CBD on February 7.
She said it was “sad that, while many people didn’t think abortion was a good idea, they didn’t want to put their feet where their talk was”.
Noting that as many as 6000 had taken part in anti-abortion rallies in the ’70s and ’80s filling King George Square, Ms Martin said she was not sure why numbers of marchers had dropped so drastically.
“Certainly polls indicate that society in general is becoming more pro-life,” she said.
“If non-involvement in public protests against abortion is a case of busyness that’s really no excuse – we’re all busy.
“Maybe it’s come to the point where people are more afraid of human opinion than God’s laws.
“However, if they’re afraid of being recognised when taking part in the protest they can always wear a hat and sunglasses.
“Pro-life organisations need public support – we can’t do it all on our own.”
Both Right to Life and Cherish Life Queensland are running events to highlight the issue of abortion in the coming months.
Internationally recognised expert in bioethical issues Wesley J. Smith, from the United States, is being sponsored by RTL to present a series of talks around Australia in July.
Cherish Life Queensland will present a movie on abortion, The Silent Scream, next Wednesday night (May 19) at 7.15pm at Legion House in Fortitude Valley.
Five women, including two American women from Operat-ion Outcry in the US, will also speak about their experiences of abortion, adoption and parenthood at the organisation’s annual general meeting and conference in Brisbane on June 26.