The 2016 March for Life in Birmingham saw thousands of people take to the streets to take a public witness to the humanity of the unborn child. Archbishop Longley of Birmingham said the event was a witness to faith and the God given value of life.
The feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive as many noted how the event continues to grow in authentic witness to a culture of life. Some people likened the day to a big Pro-life family festival. Pro-life stalls were alive with interest from many young people, and the Mercy Bus, an initiative from the Diocese of Salford had queues of people waiting to speak to a priest, to seek mercy and forgiveness. The tone and theme of the day was one of celebration, joy, solidarity between groups, trust in God’s mercy as well as a desire to create awareness of the hurt and damage that abortion causes.
This year a powerful testimony to the power of witness came from the story of Sophie, and her baby boy Riley, who was booked to have an abortion last year before she stumbled across the March for Life. She saw the aggressive pro-abortion counter rally happening in the same square. Sophie went home and cancelled her abortion. She asked the crowd, “Who was here last year?” The crowd went wild before she said, “Riley is here because of YOU.”
The two keynote speakers of the day were Stephanie Gray from Canada and Ryan Bomberger from the USA. Ryan Bomberger was himself conceived in rape and spoke powerfully about his personal testimony while he even engaged with a very small group of pro-abortion advocates present. Stephanie Gray reminded the audience of the pain abortion causes and that activism should not just be an annual event, but a daily one. She also reminded the audience to weep for the 200,000 little children who die every year in the UK and to pray for abortionists’ souls.
The event ended with prayers led by Bishop Mckinney of Nottingham, who offered prayers for all involved in the abortion, and a minute of silence as everyone in the crowd dropped to their knees.
The event was extremely encouraging and professionally organised and looks to grow exponentially in the future. The event will also help to equip and engage pro-lifers to reach out to educate the young, speak to politicians and leaders as well as conversations leading to changed hearts and minds, and others if they are post-abortive or in a crisis pregnancy.