This was interesting. On 2nd July 2016, Belfast city centre hosted both a pro-life rally and a pro-choice rally. This has never happened before – not in my lifetime anyway – but I’m glad it did, because it gave us a unique insight into how both sides espouse their views.
As expected, thousands turned up (approx. 1,000 pro-choice, 2,000 pro-life), proving that this is an issue people are passionate about. Of course, it’s not about numbers or which side is more passionate; it’s about which view is right. This is why seeing both rallies side by side, especially for those undecided on abortion, helped to point a few things out. Here’s five of them:
1. More people are pro-life than the media will have you know
Ok, I’m contradicting myself here. Numbers do matter. Not in a “we have more people, therefore that makes us right” kind of way, but to dispel the liberal myth that most people in Northern Ireland are in favour of abortion.
If you ever listen to abortionistas like Dawn Purvis or Goretti Horgan, you’ll continually hear the abortion-choice mantra that young people, particularly women, are all for abortion. They’ll tell you that liberal values are tolerant and cool and groovy. They’ll talk about the pro-life movement being the invention of religious old men and crusty politicians, whose only purpose for a woman is to have her sweep the fireplace and clip their cigars.
But then you look at this year’s Rally for Life, and it was jam-packed with hundreds of vibrant, happy, young people – especially women. In fact, the whole pro-life movement in Ireland (and afar) is fuelled and run by women. Yet the media image is of the complete opposite. How strange.
2. Pro-choice campaigners don’t understand science (or at least pretend not to)
It is an established scientific fact that human life begins at conception. This fact is the rock that the pro-life cause is built on. In response, the pro-choicer has two options: accept the humanity of the unborn but continue to support abortion anyway (like this honest pro-choice writer), or simply ignore the science. If the pro-choice placards on display were anything to go by, they choose the latter.
As one anti-science placard profoundly and poetically put it: ‘Not every ejaculation needs a name’. Yeah, no. Somebody wasn’t paying attention during biology class. Sperm cells are not human beings. No pro-life advocate argues that sperm is sacred and in need of protecting (or a name). Sperm is a byproduct of a larger human entity, like skin cells, hair follicles and spit – it is not in itself a human life.
By contrast, the unborn – from embryo to nine months – are confirmed by science to be distinct and whole living human beings. Taking the life of a distinct and whole human being is a radically different action from not naming your sperm. Besides, if you name one sperm, you would have to name them all. And that could take all weekend.
3. Pro-choice campaigners have a fetish for scary symbols and ideologies
One much-photographed banner present at the pro-choice rally featured the hammer and sickle. Another one extolled the virtues of anarchism, while another said: “Making feminism a threat again” beside a big picture of some knuckle dusters.
Maybe I’m missing something, but if your campaign claims to be about freedom, fairness and equality for women, why would you align yourself with symbols of violence, chaos, and, in the case of the hammer and sickle, an ideology responsible for the deaths of millions? It’s not like abortion has ever… oh, wait… abortion has killed millions. Carry on.
The official Rally for Choice poster displayed some interesting design choices, too; an angry fist against an ominous black and white background, with the silhouette of what looks like a baying mob. It looks more like an advert for a Leni Riefenstahl film than a call to do something good and meaningful.
The Rally for Life poster, on the other hand, couldn’t be more different; smiling young people (all female), bright colours, and a clear message – choose life. And what exactly does #TRUSTWOMEN mean anyway? Which women?
4. The pro-choice rally had very few children in attendance
One of the most striking aspects of the pro-life rally was the amount of children present. I mean, there was lots and lots and lots of them. They seemed to be having a great time, too, getting their faces painted and blowing up balloons. It was a proper family-friendly affair.
In stark contrast, the pro-choice rally looked like a scene from a Mad Max film. Any child that had the misfortune of being there looked either lost and bewildered or terrified. Of course, they’re not at all to blame, they’re just kids, but it is telling. What child wants to hang around with humourless communists and anarchists, stomping around with their clenched fists and knuckle dusters, on a Saturday afternoon? And not to mention the overtly sexual placards.
And what exactly do you tell a child at a pro-choice event anyway? I imagine it would go something like this:
“Mummy, what’s pro-choice?”
“Well, eh, you know when you were in my tummy?”
“When I was a baby?”
“No, when you were a foetus. Well, some women choose not to have a foetus in their tummy, so they have an abortion.”
“Is an abortion like giving birth?”
“Sort of. But instead of being born, the foetus gets poisoned by a doctor. Or if it’s too big, dismembered with a giant set of forceps with metal teeth, and thrown in a bin.”
“Mummy, can I have an abortion?”
“… Eh, it’s bed time now. Mummy wants to watch Orange is the New Black.”
5. Abortion sets the stage for every other cultural battle
This is perhaps the most important observation of all. As the huge turnout showed, abortion is one of the biggest defining issues in our society, because it gets right down to the very core of who you are and what you believe.
A person’s position on abortion informs and guides every other position they take on every other subject. This is why one side had militant artwork, anarchists and communists, and the other side had joy, positivity, a hopeful message – and colours other than black and dark purple. If we cannot first establish that life matters, then nothing else matters. Anarchy, in other words.
Make no mistake, juxtaposing a pro-life cause with a pro-choice cause was extremely helpful, because it highlighted just how much the world needs us to be pro-life. People need to know that all human life has intrinsic value. This is the pro-life position. And it’s the right position.