While studying here in Birmingham (England, not Alabama) I got news of a March for Life occurring on Sunday. My fellow students are I were pretty excited about it, and Maryvale Institute rearranged our sessions so we could all be there. Apparently, it was only the second March for Life in the UK, and the one in Birmingham was for the whole country.
It was a different kind of excitement to march in Birmingham as opposed to Washington, DC. In DC, it was amazing to be a part of such a huge event—over half a million people. But in the UK, I was one of hundreds, not hundreds of thousands. I’m poor with numbers, but I’d say there were seven to eight hundred people there (if you were there, correct me in the comments.)
It also gave me the opportunity to learn more about abortion in the UK. Abortion has been legal in England since 1967. They now have about 200,000 abortions each year, and the amount of abortions since it was legalized is estimated between 7 and 8 million.
Though they have had legalized abortion longer than we have, they haven’t had as many organized pro-life events. 40 Days for Life began in the UK just recently, and the speakers at the March noted how young the Pro-Life movement was, both in age and in participation: like DC, many of the participants were young adults.
We turned many heads as we walked through the busy shopping district of Birmingham. We all held yellow balloons that said LIFE. Though ecumenical, it was clearly driven by the Catholic Church—there were many priests, religious, and seminarians, all praying the rosary and singing songs to our Lady as we walked through the streets. The organizers warned us that their might be some hostility, but the attitude of most of the onlookers was more of curiosity than condemnation. I don’t think they’ve ever seen something like that before.
Being so small, they didn’t shut down roads for us. There were some folks to help us cross streets, but at times the front half had to wait for the second half to get through the crosswalks. That’s actually one of the things I thought was so cool about the event. In DC, you’re surrounded by other Pro-Lifers. Here, you were surrounded by the everyday culture.
And it was cold. SO cold. I’m not sure if it was colder than DC or just felt that way because I wasn’t prepared for it. By the end I was limping because my feet were numb. But I was only wearing flimsy PF Flyers and it was snowing outside. Next year, I’ll bring boots.
For those I got to meet at the march, it was a blessing! Let us all continue to pray for an end to abortion in the US, the UK, and the entire world.