Youth for Life after the Berlin March for Life, Sept 17
The evening after the huge March for Life in Berlin, I joined 80 members of the German Youth for Life group at the Singer 109 Youth Hostel for a pro-life conference, moderated by spokesman Matthias Loechner. The German YFL is a fairly new group, and the conference was intended to inspire them with presentations by leaders from several international pro-life groups.
Andy Stephenson of the UK branch of the Center for Bioethical Reform spoke about the urgent need to use graphic abortion signs. Dries Goethals and Liesbeth Ronsmans of Youth for Life Belgium reviewed their pro-life activities over the past year, including a new initiative praying at Belgian abortuaries. Bryan Kemper discussed the momentum growing within the pro-life movement in the United States, and Kate Bryan of Ireland’s Youth Defence shared the achievements of Europe’s most dynamic pro-life organization.
I spoke about the broad range of pro-life activism undertaken by the Pro-Life Action League, offering a vision of what activism could look like in Germany if their commitment were really to take root. “The abortion industry’s days are numbered,” I told them. “Our days are infinite.”
The only presentation in German was offered by Lina Kogler of Austrian Youth for Life, which has been active since the late 80s, speaking in schools and educating the public. Lina exhorted the audience to think what they would tell their grandchildren they did to stop the injustice of abortion.
A Sobering Walk along the Wall
Eric at the site of the Berlin Wall along Bernauer Strasse, facing east [Photo by Bryan Kemper]
The next morning our group reconvened after Sunday religious services for a brunch at a restaurant in East Berlin. After many fond farewells, a group of us were led by Berlin resident Stefan Friedrich on a brief tour along Bernauer Street, which was divided by the Berlin Wall from 1961 to 1989. Several memorials mark the wall’s site, including one dedicated to those who lost their lives trying to cross into the West.
Visiting these sites, I recalled asking my college German teacher back in 1984 if East Germany and West Germany would ever be reunited. His answer: probably not ever, but certainly not in our lifetime. He was wrong, of course. Reflecting on the fall of the Berlin Wall, a radical change totally unforeseen by most experts, gave me a sense of hope that one day, against all odds, the injustice of abortion would end, too.
Quiet Evening with a Fellow Activist
Bryan Kemper, Klaus Steigert and Eric Scheidler outside the Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Central Station)
That evening Bryan and I met up with Klaus Steigert of KALEB, the main pro-life group responsible for organizing the March for Life, whom I had met in Belgium in March. Klaus is one of the few salaried pro-life activists in Germany, and we had much to share as he treated us to a driving tour of the historic districts of Berlin.
Before going to Klaus’ apartment to spend the night, we dropped by the KALEB headquarters, which had been sprayed with graffiti a few days before, with the English slogan, “My body, my choice.” I was reminded of the vandalism of my parents’ home in Chicago last December, when a chunk of asphalt was thrown through the window. Everywhere faithful pro-lifers appeal to the hearts of our fellow citizens to make room for unborn children, we face these kinds of attacks.
But their only impact, both here in the United States and across the world, is to strengthen our resolve to end abortion. The international pro-life movement is growing, and I am proud that the Pro-Life Action League is standing side-by-side with our European allies.