The overturning of Roe v Wade in the US on 24 June 24 2022 was cause for great celebration within the pro-life movement but also highlighted the fact we have a long way to go here in Australia. The ruling in the US was met with protests demanding even greater abortion access in Australia, despite the fact it is now legal in all jurisdictions.
All states and territories also have exclusion zones of up to 150 metres around abortion clinics, which make it illegal to communicate about abortion or offer supportive alternatives within the vicinity.
These draconian laws have outlawed the important work of groups such as the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, who were able to save the lives of hundreds of babies and support mothers who felt they had no option except abortion.
Following the overturning of Roe v Wade, the Australian Capital Territory launched a review into abortion access in the territory. As part of the review the ACT government has announced a $4.6 million investment over four years to provide women who are up to 26 weeks pregnant with free abortions, from the middle of 2023.
The Western Australian government has also announced plans to completely decriminalise abortion in the state, with a bill likely to be introduced later this year.
With the opportunities to offer a public pro-life witness being greatly diminished, events like the annual Day of the Unborn Child procession are more important than ever.
El Salvador was the first country to celebrate what was then called a “Day of the Right to Be Born” in 1993. In 1998 the Day of the Unborn Child was proclaimed in Argentina by President Carlos Menem, a Catholic convert from Islam. Other countries followed Argentina’s example and now pro-life groups all over the world celebrate the day in various ways.
The Day of the Unborn Child has been celebrated in Sydney since the year 2000. The procession, accompanied by the Mass and benediction, has been held annually for close to 20 years—except for 2020, due to COVID-19 lockdowns, and 2021 due to wild weather. In 2021 the event remained inside the Cathedral and the procession was cancelled.
The procession is held on the closest Sunday to the Feast of the Annunciation, which is 25 March. This year it will take place on Sunday, 25 March.
The event begins with the 10:30am Sunday Mass in St Mary’s Cathedral, followed by the angelus at midday. The procession then leaves from the cathedral and pauses outside New South Wales parliament house for a time of prayer and to sing the national anthem.
This is followed by an address from a distinguished speaker. This year it will be given by Steve Mosher, the President of the US-based Population Research Institute. The procession then returns to the Cathedral for 1:30pm benediction.
This year the Mass will be celebrated by Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, who will also lead the procession through the streets of Sydney.
The Day of the Unborn Child is an important public witness to the humanity of the unborn at a time when the mainstream media, sex education programs and many others are trying to dehumanise them. It is a reminder that the baby in the womb is in fact a child, and not just a clump of cells which can be thrown away.
As University of Notre Dame lecturer, Anna Walsh, told those who attended last year’s procession, “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.”
So please, join us on the streets to give a voice to those who are still too young to speak. Come along and remind our city and country that the unborn are just as worthy of life as the rest of us.
Andrew Murphy is Special Projects and Officer Manager for Family Life International (Australia).