A huge pro-life crowd joined the Rally for Life in Belfast Oct. 18
On Saturday, October 18, members of the Pro-Life Action League joined thousands of pro-lifers in Belfast, Northern Ireland for a Rally for Life, calling on the Parliament in Westminster not to impose abortion on the province. The Rally at the beautiful Stormont building, seat of the Northern Ireland Assembly, was organized by Bernie Smyth of Precious Life, Northern Ireland’s most active and effective pro-life group. Buses came from all across Northern Ireland, plus several from the Republic of Ireland.
Speakers Call for Northern Ireland To Remain Abortion Free
“Pastor to the Unborn” Ed Martin, a pro-life activist from Jacksonville, Florida with close ties to the pro-life movement in Ireland, offered the opening prayer. Representatives from all the major parties of Northern Ireland spoke next, with the exception of Sinn Fein, which indicated its support in a letter to Precious Life. The highlight of the politicians’ talks was that by the Right Honorable Jeffrey Donaldson, a member of both Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly, who declared that he’s “pro-choice”—he favors the choice of the people of Northern Ireland not to allow abortion in their land.
Other notable speakers included John Smeaton of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, based in London, and Lynn Coles of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, as well as my father and me. A Christian band provided interludes of pro-life music throughout the program.
The large pro-life crowd, which included my mother Ann and my wife April, remained upbeat despite intermittent, sometimes heavy rain. Umbrellas were raised and lowered frequently throughout the crowd several times during the mid-afternoon Rally.
Joe (left) and Eric Scheidler speak at the Rally—Photos by April Scheidler
Joe began by remarking that it rains a lot in October in Chicago, too, but usually only once a day; “I’ve been counting and it’s already rained 17 times here in Belfast and it’s not even two in the afternoon!” Joe thanked the pro-lifers of Northern Ireland for being a beacon of hope for pro-lifers in America, while offering warnings of the devastation that comes with legal abortion. I spoke next, comparing Parliament’s effort to impose abortion on Northern Ireland with Planned Parenthood’s effort to impose abortion on the people of the Fox Valley of Illinois in disregard of the will of the people, the law and the truth.
Parliament Shelves Anti-Life Amendment
On Wednesday, October 22, Parliament had been scheduled to consider an amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act of 1990 which would have extended the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland. The move was opposed not only by all the major political parties and churches of Northern Ireland, but by the vast majority of the people. Some feared its passage might have threatened the fragile peace process that has ended sectarian violence in recent years.
In the wake of the October 18 rally in Belfast, parliamentary leaders chose to shelve the amendment rather than present it for a vote, which effectively shuts down the effort to legalize abortion in Northern Ireland by way of the U.K. parliament.
For years pro-abortion activists in both Belfast and London have tried to force abortion on the people of Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (U.K.). Abortion has been legal elsewhere in the U.K. since Parliament passed the Abortion Act of 1967, which does not apply to Northern Ireland, which has its own criminal justice laws.
Several efforts to legalize abortion in Northern Ireland have failed in recent years, thanks to Precious Life mobilizing opposition from the overwhelmingly pro-life majority. My father and I are proud to have been a part of this most recent prolife victory in Ireland.