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. So, for those undecided on the abortion issue, seeing both rallies side by side, might help clear some things up. Here are five observations worth considering.
1. More people are pro-life than the media lets on
A common abortion-choice mantra is that a majority of young people, particularly women, are in favour of abortion, and that the pro-life movement was the invention of religious old men and crusty politicians, whose only purpose for a woman is to sweep the fireplace and clip their cigars.
But then you look at this year’s Rally for Life — or any pro-life gathering —and it was jam-packed with hundreds of vibrant, happy, young people, especially women. In fact, the whole pro-life movement is fuelled by women. Yet the media portrayal is strangely the complete opposite.
2. Pro-choicers are the real science-deniers
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 activist ), or simply ignore the science. If the pro-choice placards on display were anything to go by, it’s the latter.
As one anti-science placard 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; they are gametes. No pro-lifer argues that sperm is sacred and worthy of rights (or a name). Sperm is a byproduct of a larger human entity – it is not in itself a human life.
By contrast, the unborn — from embryo to nine months — are 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 thing for scary symbols and murderous idelogies
One much-photographed banner 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 hundreds of millions of innocent people? 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, bright colours, and a clear message – choose life.
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 scores and scores 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 who had the misfortune of being there looked either lost and bewildered or terrified. Of course, they’re not to blame, they’re just kids, but it is telling. What child wants to hang around with humourless communists stomping around with their clenched fists and knuckle dusters on a Saturday afternoon? And not to mention the overtly sexual placards.
5. Abortion sets the stage for every other cultural battle
As the large 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 — symbols of death and misery — and the other side had joy, positivity, bright colours, and a hopeful message. 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.