Charity and Courage
Transcript of the speech presented by Anna Walsh outside Parliament House on the Day of the Unborn Child 27th March 2022
Thank you, Paul.
My Lord, Bishop Umbers, Reverend fathers, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, good afternoon. It’s an honour to address this year’s March for the Unborn.
I’d like to start with a question.
Do you ever feel like you are living in a nightmare, screaming, but nobody is listening, nobody can hear you? This is often what it feels like to be ‘pro-life’. We all have the experience of being misunderstood and we witness a frustrating lack of logic from otherwise good and intelligent people.
Family, friends, and colleagues can think of us as agitators and religious fanatics, who seek to impose our morality on others, spreading dis-information and in doing so, causing harm and offence, and disrespecting their dignity to choose what they believe is good for them.
As it hurts to be ridiculed by people whom we would otherwise respect, why should we speak truth when it is a lot easier to keep the peace and say ‘each to their own’? Well, one answer is charity, and another is justice.
What is good and what is a person?
Around the world, there are 75 million abortions every year supported by laws which affirm the mantra ‘my body, my choice.’ When there is no primacy given to human beings in view of being human, all notions of society and justice collapse into absurdity. This is where we are at in Australia and in many other places.
The ‘my body, my choice’ advocates are concerned with the personal dignity of the mother. They are concerned with the good of a human life, but they operate under a false understanding of what it means to be good, what it means to be a person – these are deep philosophical issues that are just not spoken about enough in our culture.
Most people will recognise a continuity of identity between themselves and the moment of their conception. Most people will agree that human life is good, and any good enjoyed within this life is enjoyed within the context of a human life. Moreover, anybody who believes that their own life is good, believes that it was good that they were conceived and that they continue to be. They will also agree that it is good that other lives that they cherish, or think are mostly good, were conceived and continue to be.
There is a hypocrisy, therefore, if not an admitted selfishness, in anyone who does not attach the same dignity and recognition of the good to every instance of conception. That hypocrisy is why we have gotten to this point in our society and in our laws where the value of unborn human life is subjectively determined, where abortion is standard health care, and where the mother’s power to kill her unborn child is actually celebrated as a sign of a civilised society.
Abortion is an artificial intervention contrary to the natural function of the human body. It has numerous negative health effects, and it robs a woman of that which makes her uniquely a woman. Deep down inside, she does not want to see her body as a place of death.
Understanding love and sacrifice
God created us out of nothing, from an excess of love, giving us existence, and entering into our existence in an act of self-emptying, to buy back our existence from death and bring us to life in His eternal existence. And all of this is done as a pure gift.
Echoing the philosopher Josef Pieper, Pope Benedict XVI in Deus Caritas Est, points out that when we say we love somebody we say it is good that they exist. In fact, at the very least, everything that we say that we love, we at least say that it is good that it exists.
If we truly loved someone, we would lay down our life for that person, and give up our own existence for theirs. You don’t have to be a Christian to recognise this fact; the ancient pagans deduced the value of self-sacrifice; soldiers give their lives all the time for their countrymen and women; parents sacrifice so very much of themselves for their children and would die for them; and the passionate lover, though sometimes foolhardy, would die for his beloved in a tale that even the sinner would romanticise.
Life is beautifully given, yet perversely taken.
So, who is worthy of this sacrifice? If life is a gift, and humanity itself is good, then it’s not about worthiness. But we can say that the most innocent among us are the most un-deserved of death. Defending the innocent is what makes humanity great for the pagan, the Muslim, the Christian, the Jew and even the secular humanist.
However, doing it in a way that loves the life of the enemies of our lives, is something particularly Christ-like and it makes sense. It makes sense because if affirming the good and loving is synonymous with saying it is good that you exist, then saying it of one representative of humanity should logically lead us to say it of every human being.
Logic aside, we have to also ensure that truth reaches the affective, where people love. ‘Love them both’ has been a popular phrase amongst us in recent years. By it, we mean love the mother, and the child but it must also extend beyond this to love even the abortionist. You must love them in their human dignity and let it be known that no matter how small our numbers dwindle, how large the chorus against us reaches, how corrupt the culture may be, we love all humanity.
To ‘do unto others as they do unto you’ should be an obvious principle of life to all. To love even your enemy with sacrificial love is uniquely Christian. Yet by it, we reinforce the first. We witness to it. Knowing our love, our enemies may then come to approach the little ones as they would have had done unto themselves. They may come to see that nine-month period before their own birth with a renewed dignity, and they may in turn view the good of our common humanity.
The foetal body parts industry
I am going to digress for a minute and talk about the foetal body parts industry. This industry is insidious, disgusting, and pervasive. Unwanted unborn children have now become a product, to be used and disposed of for the benefit of others. Before they die, they are tortured, their organs are stolen, their body parts manipulated, desecrated, and violated, and their remains are generally not buried.
The benefit to us of using another person in this way includes advances in medical research, and the production and/or testing of medications, beauty products and even foodstuffs. It is getting to the point where it is difficult to avoid having anything to do with it.
And herein likes the controversy of moral complicity. I commend to you further reading and reflection in this challenging area. Each individual must form their conscience and be culpable for the steps they take to know more about this situation and their response to it.
I am sure Paul will not mind me saying this, but the prolife movement has been slow to respond to this situation, but we still have time.
We are in a battle
When we do the wrong thing, we need to be around like-minded people and we need to hide in a crowd. The silencing of any dissent against the mantra ‘my body, my choice’ by a confused, emotional, and illogical culture has been effective in stifling the natural desire to speak the truth out of charity and justice, and it has diminished our courage. Stop this nonsense and have the courage of your convictions.
The Holy Spirit may prompt you to be a witness to a certain person or persons about the truth of abortion, through your logic and through your love. God fixes the hour, not you. All your plans, however carefully devised, cannot change God’s plan nor alter His time. Nothing happens without His permission.
You don’t know when God’s grace will touch the heart of a person and leave them open to your witness. There may even be a delayed reaction of years. But at some point, they will remember the things that you said or did, and how much it cost you to do it, but which you did anyway out of charity for them and respect for their humanity.
You might not be the most eloquent of speakers, you might not be gifted with legal and philosophical jargon to engage in debate or even if you were so gifted, you might win the argument and lose the soul because of misplaced emotion. Yet, in knowing that all human life is good, you will know that in your neighbour is enough goodness to make it possible for them to see the truth.
We might think of today as a big display of the prolife movement, but the reality is that we are a very tiny minority, and we must be prepared to be ridiculed and to suffer. We must be ‘battle ready’. So, I’ll give you two weapons you need to go into battle successfully, but which you can’t hold in your hands because these weapons are two beliefs.
The first belief is in your own power which, when you exercise it according to the Divine Will, you can do all things because God will strengthen you. The second belief is in your own weakness because without Him you can do nothing.
I cannot overstate how these weapons have personally helped me in doing prolife work.
Finally, coming back to my initial question: Do you ever feel like you are living in a nightmare, screaming, but nobody is listening, and nobody can hear you: that would sum up a lot of my professional life and my university study life (excepting my current stint at University of Notre Dame). When I was in Boston studying Bioethics and feeling flattened from yet another round of class discussions where I was truly out on my own, a student come up to me and give me a piece of paper with Psalm 118:130 written on it: “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”
Be humble, persevere and have courage!