10 pro-life reasons to celebrate 2019!
It has undoubtedly been a year of profound sadness for the pro-life movement in Northern Ireland. However, we must never give up hope. We must remember this. When we remain positive and hopeful, we begin to gain a new perspective.
Although an incomprehensibly unjust and inhumane law will be rolled out on our shores very soon, abortion will, in time, destroy itself and we will take back the culture of life we once had. Although so many women and babies will now be at the mercy of a cruel abortion industry knee-deep in allegations of unsafe and unethical practices, there are thousands of babies destined for abortion whose fate WE can change. All it takes is the courage, commitment, and unfailing determination to not give up and not give in to hopelessness!
In the run-up to the New Year, we have outlined 10 amazing highlights and pro-life reasons to celebrate in 2019 to give you lots of hope for the coming year of 2020!
1. Precious Life and Stanton Healthcare save more mothers and babies this year from abortion!
Precious Life, working together with Stanton Healthcare, a pregnancy centre in Belfast, have been able to save more mothers and babies from abortion – something truly incredible to celebrate. Through witnessing outside Belfast’s abortion referral centre close to our offices, we were able to talk to abortion-minded women, offer them real love, support and alternatives; and ultimately help them to choose LIFE for their babies! Our hard-working, dedicated and passionate volunteers were able to refer these women on to Stanton Healthcare Belfast, a centre which provides women with the life-affirming alternatives to abortion.
This Christmas we celebrate a year of births of babies - including Faith, Martha and Sophie - who were destined to be killed by abortion but were saved because of the many sacrifices you made to protect them.
The Stanton project is continuing to expand and save more lives every year! We had a very successful series of showings, in September and October, of the renowned film 'Unplanned.' This powerful film is about Abby Johnson who becomes the youngest clinic director in the history of Planned Parenthood, America's largest abortion provider. Then a life-changing experience converts her into becoming a pro-life activist.
2. Youth for Life change hearts and minds with more street outreach!
Youth for Life have been on the streets every Saturday this year in Belfast City Centre, as well as Derry once a month, changing hearts and minds and saving lives! We have been able to talk to thousands of members of the public throughout the year about the reality of abortion and the damaging effects on women, babies and our society. When we expose the reality of abortion and advocate for better resources for women and families, we can help change public opinion, build up a culture of life, and make abortion not only illegal but unthinkable!
3. The All-Ireland Rally for Life draws thousands to Dublin City Centre!
What a day it was! We were delighted with the thousands of people who travelled to Dublin on Saturday 6th July for the All Ireland Rally for Life which gave the people of Ireland an opportunity to send 4 clear messages that “I Stand For Life”, “The Future is Pro-Life”, “Abortion Steals Hope” and “Abortion Kills Love.”
The Rally, now in its 13th year, alternates annually between Belfast and Dublin. The speakers included Bernadette Smyth from Precious Life, Niamh Ui Bhriain of the Life Institute, consultant obstetrician Dr Trevor Hayes in Kilkenny and leader of new political party, Aontu, Peadar Toibin.
Niamh Ui Bhriain of the Life Institute roused the crowd with her poignant words: “We may have lost the 8th amendment, but we are far from being a defeated people; we are a people of hope, courage, decency and love; where we want to live in a country where all of our children are cherished equally.”
Bernadette Smyth concluded the Rally with her powerful speech, stating: “”
The next All-Ireland Rally for Life is provisionally booked for Saturday 4th July 2020.
4. 20,000 Lobby for Life petitions presented to NI Secretary of State
Precious Life presented a powerful 20,000 pro-life petitions from the people of Northern Ireland to the then Secretary of State Karen Bradley. The 20,000 signatures, collected over just a few months as part of our crucial 'Lobby for Life' postcard petition, were presented to NI Secretary of State Karen Bradley's office at Stormont. This petition called on the people of Northern Ireland to fight back against Westminster MPs who were hell-bent on forcing a cruel and extreme abortion law on Northern Ireland.
We want to say a massive thank you to the many committed and tireless Precious Life members and volunteers who sacrificed so much of their time and energy into helping us reach our goal of 20,000 signatures – over just a few months. These 20,000 petitions is on top of the 300,000 petitions previously presented to Stormont in 2016.
A Precious Life team travelled over to Westminster with the clear message that Abortion is NOT in the name of the people of Northern Ireland. The Westminster Government did the unthinkable. No other Government in the world would dare to vote over the heads of another government and another country’s democratic process to completely ignore the democratic will of the people. This Bill was hijacked by abortion extremists to introduce an unthinkably cruel and extreme abortion law.
5. Successful Public Awareness Campaigns
Our ‘Vote Pro-Life’ and ‘Vote for Life’ Campaigns were a huge success for the Council and Westminster elections respectively! Firstly, we want to thank each and every one of you for your tireless help and support with these Campaigns. They wouldn't have been possible without you.
We had our 'Vote Pro-Life' roadshow in May with hundreds of people travelling to various locations - including Belfast, Derry, Newry, Maghera and Dungannon - for our information evenings with our Founder and Director, Bernadette Smyth.
Also, in November, we had 'The Way Forward' roadshow meetings, which included information on voting pro-life, with hundreds of people making the effort to travel to various locations, namely Belfast, Derry, Irvinestown, Keady, Magherafelt and Newry.
As well as our information evenings, our ‘Vote Pro-Life’ and 'Vote for Life' mobile billboards travelled all over NI in the days running up to the two elections. Our campaign messages were also advertised continually on our social media pages and in major newspapers. Finally, tens of thousands of our ‘Vote Pro-Life’ and 'Vote for Life' leaflets - thanks to all of you - were distributed in churches, community centres and door to door. Every border was covered from Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Derry and Newry right back to Belfast in an effort to fight for the voiceless future citizens of Northern Ireland.
Following the announcement of the Westminster elections, we knew this would be a matter of life and death for our unborn children. Our volunteers were in the campaign headquarters keeping our social media and website updated, researching and contacting all the election candidates, and informing the NI electorate of those candidates who have assured us, with a "pro-life promise", that they will work to REPEAL SECTION 9 of the NI Executive Formation Act and RESTORE FULL LEGAL PROTECTION for all unborn babies in Northern Ireland.
Monica Digney, candidate for new All-Ireland pro-life party Aontu, said: “I can absolutely guarantee all those in Precious Life I will fight and lobby for the right of every baby to be born in this Island and beyond, the right to life is the most precious gift we can give and to deny a baby to be born is the worst.”
Gary Middleton, candidate of the DUP, said he will “do everything he can to protect the unborn. This will always be a priority for me.”
6. Precious Life's Schools Campaign gains greater awareness!
It's been a fantastic year on the schools front for Precious Life, with an increased presence for us in secondary and grammar schools throughout Northern Ireland! One teacher described our Schools Campaign as “educational, inspiring and necessary.”
Precious Life’s Director, Bernadette Smyth, spoke to Year 11 students at a school in County Derry on Friday. Thanks so much to all the schools and staff for having us. Every school is a privilege and honour. We have made our presentation as informative, engaging and comprehensive as possible. The aim of the presentation is to touch the hearts and minds of future generations with the truth of the pro-life message – including personal anecdotes of babies that have been saved and women and families supported through the work of Precious Life.
Our presentation for schools is highly visual and allows time for a Q&A session and student participation. This is a message that our young people truly need to hear, and one that is so often suppressed by society and by the media. It was amazing to witness so many young people who were incredibly receptive to the pro-life message. Our presentation is educational and necessary with the aim to inspire the pro-life generation called and equipped to end abortion to take action.
7. 20,000 people bring Belfast to a standstill for the ‘March for Their Lives’
What a day it was! We were delighted with the tens of thousands of people who brought Belfast City Centre to a standstill on Saturday 7th September, as 20,000 people gridlocked the streets for the pro-life ‘March for Their Lives.’ The major pro-life event was organised by Precious Life and other pro-life groups to give the people of Northern Ireland an opportunity to voice their opposition to Westminster’s abortion law and say abortion is “Not in Our Name!”
The ‘March for Their Lives’ served as a clear confirmation that this abortion law is not in the name of the people here, thousands of whom came out in force to express their frustration and disenchantment at Westminster for its use of Northern Ireland as a Trojan horse to force through full decriminalisation of abortion onto the whole of the UK.
The March heard from a number of powerful and brave speakers, including noted public figure and member of the House of Lords, Baroness Nuala O’Loan. In July, Baroness O’Loan co-authored an open letter calling on Theresa May to either pull Westminster’s abortion Act or take further action to prevent the law being imposed. Over 20,000 people in Northern Ireland signed the letter.
Speaking to the vast crowd, she said: “We’re here because in July, in Westminster, members of Parliament who don’t live here, who don’t represent us, decided that our laws should change. In 1967, we said that we did not want the abortion act. In 2016, we said that we did not want the abortion act…I believe, as do millions of others across the world, that human life exists from the moment of conception and that it must be protected at all times.”
The March for Their Lives was Precious Life’s largest ever pro-life event, with the March even having to reroute to accommodate the incredible crowds! People of all ages and across all different backgrounds, including a huge number of young people and families, united to reject the violence and cruelty of abortion. It was truly a sight to behold.
Our next March – ‘March for Repeal’ – is provisionally booked for Saturday 24th October 2020.
8. ‘Not in Our Name’ Lobby Campaign!
Precious Life travelled to Stormont Parliament Buildings in Belfast on Monday 21st October to protest Westminster’s abortion law for Northern Ireland. At 9am in the morning, the pro-life group marched up the ‘Stormont Mile’ carrying the banner - “Abortion – Not in our Name.”
NI's Stormont Assembly sat for the first time in nearly three years after being recalled in a last-minute attempt to stop the imposition of abortion laws from Westminster. NI has been without a devolved government since January 2017 when the power-sharing parties split. In July 2019, Westminster suspended their normal rules to pass legislation to impose abortion on Northern Ireland if the parties had not formed an Executive by 21st October.
Many politicians did not attend the Stormont Chambers that day and others walked out. Even regardless of their stance on abortion – if they were truly committed to democracy and devolution, they would have been in Stormont on October 21st protesting against Westminster forcing ‘direct rule’ on Northern Ireland. This abortion legislation from Westminster is a shameful and cynical betrayal of the Good Friday Agreement. The hypocrisy of the MLAs who claim they support and defend the GFA was exposed by their silence and absence that day.
Bernadette Smyth said, “The people of Northern Ireland have fought the good fight and will continue to do so. This is our time, this is our battle. The imposition of abortion will be met with opposition from people throughout Northern Ireland. We will increase our campaigns to ensure women are given better crisis pregnancy support. We will step up our ‘Lobby for Life’ political campaigns, and our ‘Youth for Life’ street outreach campaigns to expose the horrific reality of abortion. The battle to protect our most vulnerable citizens – our unborn babies - is far from over and will continue with even greater determination than before.”
9. 23 new members for Youth for Life NI!
Youth for Life NI have welcomed 23 new members this year alone. We want to say a massive thanks to all these young people who have sacrificed their time and energy for this battle in the pro-life movement.
The lovely Rachel has said, “Joining youth for life this year was one of the best things I've done!! Youth for life has given me the chance to meet people who are just passionate about protecting life as me! I've met so many great people, made friendships I know will last a lifetime. It allows me to stand up for such a important issue, but to have the greatest amount of fun doing so. Youth for life is like a family, who are always there for each other with the love of life bringing us together. The opportunities I have received this year have been incredibly and I can't wait to see what 2020 has to hold. I've grown so much as a person this year and I've had grown even more confident in defending life!”
10. The Launch of our Repeal Section 9 Campaign!
This Campaign (as the umbrella campaign including our Fight-Back Campaign) was launched at Stormont Parliament Buildings on December 3rd, with the major objective of putting pressure on political representatives in Northern Ireland to state their commitment to repealing the Westminster-imposed abortion law.
The legislation included in Section 9 of the Act has forced a catastrophic and extreme abortion regime onto mothers and babies in Northern Ireland against the democratic will of the electorate here. This new Campaign has been organised in response to the draconian introduction of one of the most extreme and cruel abortion laws in Europe, and urges politicians to take direct action to restore full legal protection for all unborn children.
Overnight, on 22nd October 2019, Northern Ireland went from the safest place in Europe for unborn babies, to the most dangerous place in Europe for unborn babies. Section 9 of the Northern Ireland Executive Formation Act 2019 allows killing unborn babies, for any reason, up to the 7th month of pregnancy and killing unborn babies, with disabilities, up to the moment of birth.
The ‘Fight-Back’ to ‘Repeal Section 9’ will continue into 2020, until this horrific law is repealed.