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Monica Doumit: Truth is never erased by power

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Protesters from either side of the abortion debate face off on Macquarie Street in front of NSW Parliament House on 5 August. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

The 1968 film, The Lion in Winter, is centred on the story of King Henry II and his three sons, King John, Richard the Lionheart and Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany.

At one point, Henry determines that he wants none of his three sons to succeed him. He locks them up with the intention of executing them, so that he can bear a new son and heir with a new wife.

Believing they are hearing Henry approach to kill them, Richard announces: “He’s here. He’ll get no satisfaction out of me. He isn’t going to see me beg,” to which Geoffrey responds: “My, you chivalric fool … as if the way one fell down mattered.”

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Richard replies: “When the fall is all there is, it matters.”

This extraordinary line has been playing over and over in my head this past week in relation to the abortion-till-birth bill that has been introduced into NSW Parliament with the assistance of members of most parties.

Announced on Sunday, 28 July, the Bill was first planned to be introduced into the Lower House on Tuesday 30 July and voted on the following day.

Revolt from government members who had been blindsided by the controversial legislation meant that the tabling, debate and vote was put off for a few days, but still, the time frame was indicative of a fight that was not meant to be fair.

Secret back room deals had been occurring in a way that allowed the Bill to have 15 Lower House co-sponsors with their names on the Bill, even before some of their parliamentary colleagues had seen the Bill at all.

It was deceitful, to put it mildly. And our side were left scrambling in response to what was a carefully calculated attack on life and those who would stand for it.

Even as we began to fight, we were told that the fight had already been lost, because the pro-abortionists had enough numbers to win even before letting the public in on their cunning plan.

Notwithstanding, those on the side of life stood up and began to fight. Because when the fall is all that is left, the way you fall matters.

Over the past week or so, I have seen pro-life groups, women’s groups, family groups, Catholics, Protestants and Muslims all unite to oppose this wretched Bill.

People who had never before worked together became teammates overnight, working side-by-side, day and night, to protect the unborn, and the vulnerable women who too often “choose” abortion because they feel they have no other option.

As a very dear friend of mine often reminds me: “The Holy Spirit unites.”

Four hundred people on the side of life gathered outside Parliament House on Thursday 1 August at a rally organised last-minute.

Steve Buhagiar from Archdecioese of Sydney's Life, Family and Outreach Office joins in the Pro-life Rally in front of NSW Parliament House.
Steve Buhagiar from Archdecioese of Sydney’s Life, Family and Outreach Office joins in the Pro-life Rally in front of NSW Parliament House.

It was technically an “unauthorised” rally, because we could not give police the requisite 7 days’ notice for the gathering to be approved. The police couldn’t be given 7 days’ notice because we weren’t given 7 days’ notice either.

The architects of the Bill and the process had tried to give everyone just three days from announcement to passage.

Surprising to no one, a pro-abortion rally held on Wednesday, 31 July, the day before the pro-life one, had managed to get the necessary authorisation because the organisers had received advanced notice of what was coming.

Despite their advance warning and underhanded tactics, and their willingness to deceive to advance their cause, the pro-abortion rally attracted only half the number of people who attended the pro-life rally.

Because even though the numbers were against us, those on the side of life know that even though the fall may be all that is left, the way you fall matters.

As The Catholic Weekly goes to print this week, we don’t know how the vote is going to end up. But this is what we do know.

We know that there are two simultaneous, round-the-clock vigils occurring, one in front of NSW Parliament House and the other in front of the Blessed Sacrament exposed for 65 hours straight in St Mary’s Cathedral.

People from across the state will be attending day and night to offer continuous prayers and provide a continuous pro-life witness outside Parliament.

We know that, prompted by courageous leadership from Archbishop Fisher, priests across the state preached on abortion last weekend – a difficult topic to address from the pulpit – and encouraged parishioners to join the vigils and also to call their MPs and ask them to vote for life.

Many who had never phoned their MPs offices before picked up the phone and made their voices heard.

We know that – in their tens of thousands – the faithful stood up to make their voices heard, undeterred that too many of those supposedly elected to represent them seemed determined to exclude them.

And they were happy to do so. Because when the fall is all that’s left, the way you fall matters a great deal.

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