By Emilie Ng
ABORTION clinics have always been a place of pain and discomfort for longtime pro-life advocate Daniel Edmonds.
But it was outside the Dr Marie Stopes abortion clinic in Bowen Hills that the 38-year-old husband and father found the incentive to pray for the first time in 10 years.
At an early age, Daniel knew that human life began at conception and saw abortion as “hugely unjust”.
He became involved in the pro-life movement after his wife, Maria, fell pregnant with their firstborn son. He volunteered at Cherish Life Queensland’s Redcliffe branch focusing on political advocacy.
Late on April 3, 2009, the self-employed finance broker was leaving a client in Bowen Hills and walked past the local abortion clinic.
“I knew it was an abortion clinic and always felt very uncomfortable walking past it because I knew what was happening in there,” Daniel said.
“But I saw some people out the front and thought, why are there people here at 8pm?
“I had a chat to them and they said they were there praying to stop abortion here.”
The people praying were members of Brisbane’s 40 Days for Life pro-life campaign and were completing the last day of a prayer vigil outside the clinic.
“I thought, here are people who feel the same passion, the same injustice that I feel about abortion,” he said.
But although moved by the pro-life campaigners outside the abortion clinic, the lapsed Catholic was not about to “buy into the faith part”.
“At the time I was quite agnostic – I was very lapsed – and I was probably really more like an atheist,” Daniel said.
He said he did “what the zeitgeist said you’re meant to do” and was living a self-professed hedonistic, selfish, party lifestyle during his university years, followed by a self-centred career in finance.
“I enjoyed leading a sinful lifestyle that didn’t require me to reflect on what I was doing,” he said.
“It was a decade since I had prayed or had any involvement with my faith.
“When I met the 40 Days guys, I’d been softening my barrier to faith in the months leading up to that.
“I’d been brought up a nominal Catholic – I wasn’t anti-Catholic or anything – but just very lapsed.
“But this was an example of Christians, of Catholics, living out their faith, just simply saying the truth and being a light.
“I asked more questions and I was really impressed by what they were doing.”
Although it was the final day of the campaign, the group was holding a final social event the following Sunday, where Daniel had a “profound experience” of the Holy Spirit.
“I went along to the event and it was awesome, filled with all these people that shared that same feeling that abortion is wrong,” he said.
“The thing that was the most powerful moment was a particular part of this meeting that was prayer, and I hadn’t prayed in decades – I was totally disengaged.
“They started praying and I said, ‘Okay, I’ll say a prayer’.
“‘It’s been a while, I’m a bit rusty, but I’ll do it’.
“And I prayed, I prayed for God to respect life, but also to say I was opening the door again.
“I had an absolutely profound feeling of the Holy Spirit that I hadn’t felt in decades, in a real powerful, powerful experience that absolutely changed my life.
“It totally re-engaged my faith, it switched my faith on.
“From that moment on, I thought there was definitely something here.”
Since making that simple prayer, Daniel has been “intimately” involved in the 40 Days for Life prayer vigils held during Lent each year.
He recalled almost weeping during one prayer session when a dad walked into the abortion clinic with his two sons.
“I’ve got two young boys, and I just had my third child, my daughter, and this guy walked in with his two boys, went in there and picked up his wife or partner, who had obviously had an abortion,” Daniel said.
“My heart just absolutely broke in two. I could have just wept. I couldn’t believe it.
“It really hit home that abortion is terrible.”
Faith in God has also stopped Daniel from reacting angrily to aggressive pro-abortionists, whom at various pro-life rallies have screamed profanities at both him and his children.
“Their tactic of trying to get me angry doesn’t work because I do love them, I do feel a deep sense of sorrow for them,” he said.
“What I’ve then found is prayer has helped me to say, ‘Lord, give me the right words to say’.
“It was the love of pro-life people and being a light that saved me, this lapsed Catholic, so it can save these people too.
“There are people that come here that want our help – I’m here for them.”