Unity but not Uniformity for the Pro-life Movement

Rebecca Gosper recently delivered the keynote address at the Annual Right to Life WA Dinner. Below is an except from her speech.

The pro-life movement is not glamourous. It’s hard work, long hours and not a particularly popular cause. But to people like us, none of that matters. We have the privilege of saving lives. That is huge.

There are many people that I look up to, some are even in this room tonight. One woman I greatly admire is Sophie Scholl. If you haven’t heard of her, you need to read her story. She and her brother Hans started the White Rose, which was the first peaceful anti-Nazi resistance in Germany during World War Two. Sophie was just 21 years old when the Nazis killed her. She was executed for handing out flyers at her university speaking out against the Nazi euthanasia regime.

For LifeChoice students, it hits a little too close to home. Pro-life students are regularly disciplined for handing out pro-life flyers on campus, and face bullying and abuse, to which the universities often turn a blind eye. Thankfully we are not threatened with execution, only possible expulsion. 

My favourite quote from Sophie was when she said “stand up for what you believe in, even if you are standing alone”. And that’s what we’re all called to do. To stand up for the voiceless unborn, for mothers, for fathers, for the elderly and the sick. And what we will find is that as a movement, if every one of us stands up, then no one is standing alone. And that’s unity.

We are facing some very serious threats in Australia right now. Here in Western Australia your parliament is trying to push for state-endorsed suicide. New South Wales just passed an extreme abortion law, and now South Australia is facing similar sanctions.

To combat these attacks on life, unity but not uniformity is what we need right now. And let me explain what I mean. Uniformity is when everyone does the same thing, in the same way, at the same time to achieve a common goal. Unity, on the other hand, is when different people do different things, in different ways, at different times to achieve a common goal. The benefit of this is that we can cover so much more ground. We need unity in our goals and key principles (for example messaging and a commitment to non-violence), but it’s okay if we express these in slightly different ways.

The pro-life movement has many branches. We have the stable Right to Life Associations, such as Right to Life WA. We have the youth movement through LifeChoice Australia. We have people on the frontlines outside abortion clinics through 40 Days for Life. We have pregnancy support centres. We have pro-life politicians and political organisations. There are pro-life medical associations such as the Catholic Medical Association. There are pro-life lawyers, pro-life journalists and media specialists, academics, researchers and the list goes on. The beauty of unity is that we can all work together towards a common goal, using the individual gifts and talents that we have each been blessed with.

And unity is not only important during a campaign, but also after a loss. And that’s something we have had to learn in New South Wales. Losing is hard, especially when innocent lives are the price we pay. It can be easy to fall apart as a movement in these times, but that’s when we need to be stronger than ever. Even though we lost the campaign to stop the NSW abortion bill, it means that now as a movement we have a very clear goal. We need to overturn the law. This is same thing we’ve seen in the US since Roe V Wade. The pro-life movement over there is very focused and strategic because of their shared goal, to overturn Roe. And we can do the same.

If the euthanasia bill here in Western Australia does pass, although I hope it doesn’t, please know that this is not the end. Of course it makes it more challenging for us, but that doesn’t make it the end.

Over the past two weeks the pro-life movement has shown me incredible support. When I was in Melbourne at the March for the Babies I shared for the very first time what was going on behind-the-scenes during the NSW abortion campaign. Some of you may have heard my story already, but for those of you who haven’t I’ll share it again tonight.

A couple of months ago, just days before news broke about the NSW abortion bill, I was targeted online by vicious bullies. My face was photoshopped onto pornographic images and spread online. So just to clarify, it was not a photo of me, but my face was photoshopped onto that image. Along with the image was a link and screenshot of my personal Facebook profile and details of LifeChoice Australia. This is illegal and is known as image-based abuse and was investigated by New South Wales Police.

From the comments that accompanied the image, it’s very clear that I was targeted because of my pro-life stance. It was a scary time for myself and my family and I felt violated in such a personal way. It’s sad and ironic that these pro-abortion activists, who claim to advocate for women, attempted to exploit me, as they do thousands of women, simply for speaking the truth.

I gave that speech at about 3pm on Saturday 12th October and for at least four days afterwards my phone did not stop buzzing. There was a non-stop stream of phone calls, text messages, emails, Facebook comments and voicemails all showing their support for me. That’s the pro-life movement. We genuinely care about women and families, and that’s the level of support that we need to shower on every single woman who is facing an expected pregnancy.

Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don’t dare express themselves as we did.”

Sophie Scholl

There may only be 70 of you in this room tonight, or a thousand rallying outside parliament but the reality is that we’re the ones who are making a start. There are so many hundreds of thousands of Australians that agree with us, they just don’t dare express themselves as we do. And that’s our challenge. To stand unified as a movement and to build a movement. A movement that stands up for the life of every human person. A movement that supports both mother and child. A movement that will not be intimidated, bullied or coerced. Ordinary people don’t want late-term abortions and they don’t want state-facilitated suicide. Continue working hard and continue building the movement. Don’t give up.

This is just the beginning for Western Australia.

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