Rain and protesters didn't damp spirits at the March for Life
22 May 2017
Keynote speaker Lila Rose of Live Action. All images courtesy of March for Life UK.
Protesters tried to block the route and the weather was far from ideal, but that didn't stop the 2017 March for Life being a joyous celebration of life.
Thousands descended on Birmingham's Victoria Square for Lifefest 2017, which has grown from a simple march to a fully fledged pro-life festival, with amazing speakers, live music and stalls representing organisations from across the UK and Ireland.
50 years of abortion
Bernadette Smyth of Precious Life, Northern Ireland
The theme this year, 50 years on from the 1967 Abortion Act, was "50 years too long, 8.7 million lives too many". To highlight the damage this act has had across the UK, a speaker from each nation, as well as from the Republic of Ireland, spoke on the 50 years of abortion. SPUC's Rhoslyn Thomas represented Wales, Aisling Hubert, who took doctors who participated in gender-selective abortions to court, spoke on behalf of England, Sr Roseann Reddy of the Sisters of the Gospel of Life for Scotland, Bernadette Smyth of Precious Life was there for Northern Ireland, and Rebecca Roughneen of Youth Defence detailed the situation in Ireland.
The keynote speaker was Lila Rose, the founder and president of Live Action, a human rights organisation dedicated to ending abortion and inspiring a culture that respects and protects life. Lila founded Live Action when she was 15 years old. She spoke powerfully on how educating people on what abortion actually does to the unborn child, as well as the lies the abortion industry tells women, can really change people's minds. The video she showed certainly seemed to make some of the pro-abortion protesters watching from the side, very uncomfortable.
Catherine Adair is a former Planned Parenthood employee who now runs the Respect Life Ministry at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Massachusetts. She gave very moving testimony on how her own experience of abortion, and having to assist in performing second trimester abortions led to her quitting her job and converting to the pro-life cause. It was a shame that the pro-abortion protesters had dispersed by that point - her message that "no one was in Planned Parenthood because of choice, they were there because they felt they had no choice" - was exactly what they needed to hear.
Doing something right
The police had to protect pro-lifers from protesters who were blockading the March.
If we needed any confirmation of the impact the March for Life (and indeed the whole UK pro-life movement!) is having, it was there in the level of opposition this year. Before the speeches had started, a group of them broke into the enclosure and tried to invade the stage. They set off a smoke bomb before the police forcibly removed them. Later, they broke the agreement they had made with police to keep their demonstration separate from ours, and blockaded the route the March was taking. Police had to wait for reinforcements to arrive before they could remove them. Many commented on the irony of "pro-choicers" trying to prevent people's choice (and democratic right) to come together and peacefully witness to life.
Couldn't dampen our spirits
This little girl was loving life, despite the rain!
As well as protesters, the March was interrupted by driving rain - but that didn't dampen the spirits of the thousands who had gathered to remember the 8.7 million lives lost to abortion, and to celebrate the importance of every human life. As Ben Thatcher, one the March's organisers, said, "Our message is one of joy and love", and the contrast to the angry pro-abortion demonstrators was clear to all. Everyone went away reinvigorated to fight for life, and to remind the world that "Life is from conception - no exception!"
Here are some more photo highlights from the day!
The theme of the March
Pro-woman, pro-child, pro-life
March for Life organiser Ben Thatcher: "Our message is one of joy and love"
Thousands witnessing for life
The future of the movement is in good hands!
Marching through central Birmingham
Paul and Katherine manning the SPUC stall!
Our communications officer not letting the rain get her down.