Candlelight Vigil marks half-way point of 40 Days for Life

by Michael Loretz

Despite the wet weather, more than 150 people gathered on the street outside Auckland’s AMAC abortion facility to pray and bear witness on Sunday evening (28th February). “Be my Light”, a special vigil hour for the unborn, was organised by Family Life International NZ to mark the halfway point for the annual 40 Days for Life prayer vigils being held in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch throughout Lent and up to Palm Sunday.

People from different walks of life, priests, seminarians, mothers, fathers, children, people of different ethnicities and ages, gathered together for an hour on one of Auckland’s busiest streets, praying, singing and standing in moments of silence to ask God for Mercy and healing in the hope that a new culture of respect for life will grow and thrive in New Zealand.

In Wellington, a similar special vigil, “Be a Sign of Hope” was held outside Wellington Hospital in the mid-afternoon and around the country throughout the day many others, including the Carmelite Sisters in Auckland, prayed in solidarity for the success of 40 Days for Life.

Michelle Kaufman, the Communications Director of Family Life International NZ addressed the Auckland gathering saying, “This is a spiritual battle and we already know the victor, it is Christ – he won the victory on the Cross. But we need to do our part too and be for others his hands and his feet.” She encouraged the gathering to continue to support practical initiatives that offer hope to the vulnerable and help build a culture of respect for all human life from conception to natural death.

Family Life International NZ run Crisis Pregnancy Centres in Auckland and Wellington and offer women throughout the country practical help and support including pregnancy counselling, post abortion healing and recovery, and education.

The 40 Days for Life vigils in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch will continue until the 20th March. Please visit www.fli.org.nz/40daysforlife to find out more and sign up.

Help save lives: praying for an end to abortion

A great prayer for life JPIIThis week is historic for New Zealand.  For the first time, there will be simultaneous prayer vigils outside abortion facilities in three major cities in New Zealand for a full 40 days!  Not only that, various other cities are holding vigils in solidarity, and thousands more will pray in their homes and in their places of worship to bring about the end of abortion in our land!  Our dream is that all believers will sense the urgency to petition God in all humility, to bring about the end of abortion in New Zealand.

We will join thousands of people throughout the world doing exactly the same thing.  This Lent there will be 273 cities holding an official 40 Days for Life vigil in 23 countries!  That is awesome!

In 2014, there were 13,137 reported abortions performed throughout the country.  This number has been steadily going down for seven consecutive years.  Our worst year was 2003 when 18,511 innocent children lost their lives before they were born through surgical or medical abortion.

But while we have cause to celebrate, we cannot be complacent.  Any life lost through abortion is one too many.  We cannot rest until abortion becomes unthinkable!

We must also be aware that while the reported surgical and medical abortions decline, very early abortions caused by abortifacients:  the Pill, the Morning After Pill, Jadelle and Implanon implants, NuvaRing, Depo Provera, Copper IUDs and the Mirena hormonal IUD are on the rise.  The push by Family Planning and other agencies for women to be fitted with so-called Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives has been underway for a few years now.  IUDs are routinely fitted as a form of emergency contraception, and women who have had abortions are encouraged to have either an IUD or implant inserted.  We will never really know how many lives are lost through these drugs and devices.

There are many ways we can fight against abortion.  All of them are important.  However, the fight is fundamentally spiritual before anything else.  Satan loves nothing more than to see tiny human lives, made in the image and likeness of God, destroyed.  He enjoys watching the aftermath as women and families are broken by abortion.  He revels in the blindness of those who work in abortion facilities.  And he delights in the silence of Christians.

Be strong and courageous!  This Lent your prayers and your presence outside abortion facilities throughout the country is absolutely vital!

Today a woman will discover that she is a mother.  Because of her circumstances she is going to be tempted to have an abortion.  She may feel pressure from the father of the child or her family.  She will think she has no other option.  She will make an appointment to have her child killed.  She will turn up for that appointment – but you will be there.  Your prayers and your presence may save her and her baby’s life from abortion – just from being there.  And if not, your presence has been a sign of hope to her.  Your love the only love that her pre-born child will know on this earth.

40 Days for Life is an opportunity to pray, to fast, to repent, to witness to Christ and his great love and mercy.  It is an opportunity to reach out to abortion-minded women and let them know that we do care, that there is another way, that there is HOPE.  It is an opportunity to really love those who work in the abortion facilities and to offer them encouragement to use their skills to promote and preserve life.  It is an opportunity to speak with the public – many of whom have been touched in some way by abortion – about the reality of abortion and the humanity of the preborn child.  It is visiting Calvary.

Please sign up now to pray outside AMAC (Auckland), Wellington Hospital or Christchurch Hospital this week.

 

The dignity of the human person, abortion… and us

Life Rocks!The ongoing scandal in the United States over Planned Parenthood selling aborted baby organs has caused many to sit up and take notice to the tragedy of abortion.  Five US States have defunded Planned Parenthood in the wake of this scandal.  People are now questioning whether they can really say they are “pro-choice” after seeing the reality of the abortion industry, and the harsh truth that abortion kills a human being – a child.

The videos which have been made public are powerful witnesses to the humanity and the dignity of the human person, from the very first moment of existence.   A dignity that many today wish to cast aside in the name of convenience, autonomy, choice…

The rhetoric has become old.

When people wish to seek the truth, they will find it.

I believe that people need to actually see what abortion does to an unborn child to shake us out of our complacency.   Obviously there is a time and a place, and a way to do this that shows sensitivity.

Abortion is horrific.  It is heinous.  Arms and legs are torn off, tiny fingers and toes are visible among the crushed and mangled bodies.  It is a sight that no one wants to see, or even read about, because it is something so gruesome that it cannot be forgotten.  But they are images that give us fire in our belly to speak up in the face of this grave injustice.  It is a reality that cannot be ignored.

So what does this mean for us?

It means that every individual, every family, every Church, every person of good will must seek to make a stand for what is right and true in the face of this grave injustice.  As St John Paul II exhorted us: we must never tire, we must never give up, we must never be discouraged and we must not be afraid.

We have an obligation to speak up for our pre-born brothers and sisters – the most vulnerable among us – simply because they have dignity.

We must recognize the dignity of every human person from the very first moment of existence to the very natural end.  Every life is worthwhile.  Every life is precious.

A final word of encouragement from St John Paul II:

“Life will triumph: this is a sure hope for us. Yes, life will triumph because truth, goodness, joy and true progress are on the side of life. God, who loves life and gives it generously, is on the side of life.”

Let us pray with hope and work with a great sense of urgency for the sake of our brothers and sisters!

Planned Parenthood expose must call us to act

The recent expose of Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion provider selling baby parts reinforces what many in the pro-life field have been saying for a long time.  Abortion has nothing to do with “rights”; it is driven by profit.  Unimaginable to think that human beings would handsomely benefit off a fellow human especially in this so-called age of an ‘enlightened’ society.  To consider that the most defenseless of all is violently torn apart and their body parts sold off, signifies the level of depravity that humanity has descended to.  One could argue that the (outlawed) slave trade epitomized the profiteering off a fellow human though it is undeniable that slaves were not dismembered and their parts sold off for profit.  Abortion is worse.  Much worse.

Whilst many are outraged and rightly so, an obvious question needs to be asked; should we be shocked at the recent expose?  If then people are shocked now, what did anybody think the abortion procedure entailed?  Is it more likely that the human mind finds it difficult to process certain thoughts/images until confronted by the undeniable reality – such as these gruesome videos; or do we wish to be deceived under the guise of “choice”?  What “choice” does the unborn child have?  Lambs to the slaughter indeed.

Although these highlighted atrocities occurred in America, many questions have to be asked about Family Planning NZ who have been working closely with Planned Parenthood of America.  Both organisations are affiliates of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).  Showing the oneness of mind between the two organisations, Cecile Richards, the President of Planned Parenthood was invited to New Zealand as recently as 2013 to speak at the Family Planning conference.

Among all the graphic evidence of profiteering off the wholesale slaughter of the innocents, the New Zealand media remains largely silent. To be fair though, much of the press within the USA refuses to report on these atrocities as well.  Need one ask why?

The Centre for Medical Progress has released a number of videos in which senior staff of Planned Parenthood nonchalantly chat about the sale of body parts.  In one of the admissions, the director of research at a facility says that abortionists can modify their [abortion] procedure to obtain “intact” fetuses.  Within the same gruesome video, we see a box containing body parts such as arms and legs of a human being – clear enough proof that it is not a “clump of cells” that is being ‘aborted’ but a human, a child of God.

What is striking about these videos is that the employees are ‘normal-looking’ women. In fact, the Director of Planned Parenthood could be described as attractive.  Today, when image has been elevated to an unprecedented level, one wonders whether ‘believ-ability’ or even levels of evil a person is implicated in, is perhaps mitigated by that person’s appearance.  After all, some of the Nazis ‘looked scary’ so it probably is not too difficult to look back and identify evil. On the other hand, many looked like the person next door; a good family man.

Fast forward to contemporary society; a society that is largely media-driven.  Attractive-looking, smart, sophisticated people are probably more ‘believable’ than others who may be less so.  But that is part of the deception; to present an attractive ‘front’, an everyday sort of person; a professional such as a doctor whose profession we still regard (and rightly so) as noble.  In one of the videos released by the undercover investigators, a doctor over lunch in a restaurant, calmly speaks of how she takes the lives of unborn children for profit – harvesting their body parts to order. Underpinning the deliberateness of her actions, she explains how they decide from which mum they will harvest the organs to fulfil customers’ orders for the required body parts.  Mind-numbing indeed.

While calls are underway to defund Planned Parenthood in the USA, it is difficult to imagine that this will happen.  Why might this be so?  Simply because large sums of money are being made from the death of unborn children.  Will the release of these videos turn the tide against abortion; probably on an individual level but not en-masse simply because large parts of society have been de-sensitised and would consider it their ‘right’ to do what they will; so effective has been this ‘rights campaign’, a neat fit within a selfish society.  However, hope is always to be found especially among the youth.  In addition, many women are publicly speaking up about the damaging effects of abortion; they refuse to be silent anymore.

Many of us know that abortion takes the life of an innocent child.  Many choose not to know; to turn a blind eye.  The womb of a mother, a sanctuary; the safest place for any child, has become a place of desecration.  This has not happened overnight.  Rather, it’s been a well-managed campaign of diabolical sophistication to reach the level it’s reached today.  The most natural relationship; that between a mother and her unborn child has been under sustained attack, to the point that too many mothers (and fathers) view their child as the enemy; one who should be destroyed.

We were privileged to have Abby Johnson, a former director of a Planned Parenthood facility in Texas, visit us here in New Zealand.  Abby shared her story of being involved in this industry for many years somewhat oblivious to the evil in which she was submerged.  When constantly asked the obvious question as to how she could not see that what she was doing was plain evil, her answer is simply “I don’t know”.  But through the grace of God, and the commitment of people praying outside the abortion facility, Abby quit the industry and now shares her amazing conversion story to countless people.  Perhaps Abby’s story reminds us of the direction we should be taking to convince mums to keep their unborn children; to convince the abortion workers that they do not have to be working in these death camps.

The answer is education, prayer, fasting, and action.  However, all these ‘activities’ must be underpinned by the virtue of courage.  It takes courage to stand against the tide; against a society that has become somewhat immune to the death of innocent children.  “Every child a wanted child” rings hollow when you consider the horrific alternative to this empty, meaningless slogan.

Claire Culwell: My very personal story of life

Claire Culwell’s powerful story is a reminder that every human life from the moment of conception is precious and how abortion has a devastating effect on not just the child, not just the mother, but on so many people, including future generations.

Claire gave this talk at the Auckland Eucharistic Convention in April 2015.

Welcoming the least in the world’s eyes and the most precious in God’s

I love my life!Recently, Dame Colleen Bayer, the Founder and National Director of Family Life International NZ, gave a presentation “Welcoming the least in the world’s eyes and the most precious in God’s,” at the Auckland Eucharistic Convention.

In her powerful talk, Colleen shared stories of welcoming all people, especially unborn children, who have disabilities – including those whose lives may be very short.

Family Life International NZ has a programme to help promote the acceptance and support of all people with disabilities, that programme is called Missionaries of Love.

Colleen and her husband Terry are the adoptive parents of three children with special needs, two are now adults.  They have spent many years providing support to parents and carers of children with special needs.

As the medical profession becomes more adept at detecting conditions such as Down syndrome and Spina Bifida prior to birth (sometimes getting it wrong), Colleen reminds us that God is calling us to love, really love.  That is, to uphold the dignity and right to life of each individual and to nurture, protect and love them for the days they are given on this earth.

 

Why I stand and pray for an end to abortion

Christ holding unborn child in his handsAs I arrived at AMAC (the Auckland Medical Aid Centre – an abortion facility) this afternoon to pray for an end to abortion, for all those involved and most especially for the mothers and babies, I was greeted by a beautiful sight.

A young mother was standing just outside the doors of AMAC, holding her little girl – she must have been about 7 months – and they were delighting in the small world flags flapping in the wind.  These flags are adorning all the buildings down Dominion Road for the Cricket World Cup.

How wonderful it was to see the joy on both of their faces!

But then my heart sunk.  Just above their heads was the theatre where pre-born children are ripped from their mother’s wombs.  I could see the theatre walls and the instrument trolleys.  The sheer number of mothers and babies who would never experience this moment of joy weighed heavily on my heart.

And I wondered why on a sunny Sunday afternoon it was so difficult to get more than one person to turn up and beg God’s mercy for this horrendous act against human life.  (Thankfully a little later, someone else arrived to pray with me).

What would the outcry be if the children being sacrificed in the name of choice and convenience were already born?  Would the Christian Church speak out with force?  Would we see the social justice committees rallying up parishioners to stand outside the facilities where the atrocious act was happening: to beg God’s mercy, to provide help and support for the families who felt they had no other choice, to offer alternatives?

Or would there be silence?

Abortion is the biggest injustice of our times.  Pre-born children are poisoned.  Others are violently sucked through a canulla (tube).  Their tiny bodies are pieced back together to ensure that nothing is left behind.  Some are too big, and so after some suction, they are torn apart with forceps and removed limb by limb as the abortionist blindly pokes around.  Still others will have their hearts injected with a poison so that they are born dead (chillingly this practice is called feticide).

Abortion is brutal.  It is inhumane.  It is catastrophic for families and for society.

I urge you to view these images of aborted children.  This is the reality.  The photos are violent.  The images will make you feel ill.  You will never be the same again.

My heart breaks for the children.  It breaks for the mothers who feel they have no other choice.  It breaks for those who are forced to abort their children against their will.

Mothers who walk into abortion facilities will never be the same again when they walk out.

Studies show that women have a greater incidence of mental health problems after abortion.  They have an increased risk for self-destructive behaviour and suicide.

Women can be physically harmed during the abortion procedure.  Overseas, deaths have been reported.  In New Zealand it is impossible to know through documents if women have died because of the secrecy around the abortion procedure.  What we do know is that a significant number of mothers hemorrhage either during or after their abortion.  Hemorrhage can be a relatively minor complication – it can also be catastrophic.  We also know that in 2012 and 2013 a total of  18 women had their womb perforated during the procedure, potentially rendering them infertile and at risk for serious complications in later pregnancies.

There must be a better way.

We can (and must) work in the political arena; educate whomever we can about the reality of life before birth and the brutal act of abortion, utilizing all the amazing tools available to us; serve mothers and families who are abortion-vulnerable; promote adoption as a very important option; and educate ourselves on the issues at hand.

We must also pray.  We must beg God for mercy.  We can pray in our Churches.  We can pray in our homes.  But one of the most incredible places to pray is outside an abortion facility.  The place where abortion happens.  Calvary.  There we confront evil head on.  There we witness the deception that envelopes all those involved in abortion – the facility workers, the mothers and fathers and finally those who pass by.  There we have the opportunity to be Christ’s hand and feet, to witness to life, to allow him to use us as He wills, despite our fears and inadequacies.

Finally when we pray outside these facilities, especially on abortion days, we offer the pre-born children possibly the only love they will ever know on this earth.

So why do I stand and pray?

How can I not?  It is what love requires.