They sat for long periods in stunned silence, pensive and uncertain of how to respond to various speakers and outrageous statistics, but when they did move, they gave generously and spontaneously at the Emily’s Voice Glorious Life dinner on Saturday night in Hobart.
About 120 guests at the C3 Convention Centre gave a record $36,000 to Emily’s Voice life and love campaigns in Tassie at the suits and sparkles-themed event. It was the third annual dinner to celebrate the beauty, dignity and value of every life, and about 40 per cent of guests were attending for the first time.
Dianne Lesley, from Shearwater, said abortion remained her biggest regret, 40 years after the event that was to cause so much shame and pain.
“I had a choice to make but at the time it didn’t feel like a choice at all. I felt I had no option,’’ she said.
“Sadly I thought of the pregnancy as a mistake, a mistake that I needed to fix. Keeping my baby didn’t seem a possibility. My boyfriend didn’t seem to hold the answer and I was reluctant to bring shame upon my family.
“My mum was a single mum and I felt that I had let her down. My sister was married and pregnant with her first child. And so not being able to see a way out, I made an appointment at a clinic and went ahead with an abortion.
“It remains to this day, 40 years later, my deepest regret.”
She quoted from Hilary Mantel’s Giving up the Ghost:
“Children’s lives start long before birth, long before conception, and if they are aborted or miscarried or simply fail to materialise at all, they become ghosts in our lives … The unborn, whether they’re named or not, whether or not they’re acknowledged, have a way of insisting: a way of making their presence felt.’’
Prenatal testing pressure and fear-mongering
Dr Rebecca Kelly, from Launceston, told how the medical profession used fear and discrimination associated with prenatal testing to pressure mums to consider abortion for real and suspected abnormalities.
“My son, Ryan is not a risk to be avoided,’’ she told guests.
“In 2015 I decided to take action to try and change the language of testing. I took the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) to the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commission, complaining that the use of the word ‘risk’ was discriminatory and that it implied that a person with Down syndrome lived a life that was less meaningful or valuable than a person without.
“The Anti-Discrimination Commissioner found the term potentially breached the Anti-Discrimination Act. To their credit RANZCOG agreed to change the terminology without any need for further investigation. They went further and also changed their guidelines and documents to replace deficit based, negative language with neutral terminology, such as ‘chance and condition’, rather than ‘risk and abnormality’.”
The womb the most unsafe place
Emily’s Voice CEO Paul O’Rourke said the womb remained the most unsafe place in the world for an Australia child, with around 70,000 annual abortions, more than annual deaths from what we normally considered our biggest killers, such as heart disease, cancer, the road toll, stroke and suicide.
He told guests how money raised from the night would be used in a major media campaign in Tasmania beginning in July.
Our thanks to event sponsors, Bargain Car Rental, Collings Cleaning Services and Abundant Life Church. We also want to thank all those who donated auction items including the Honourable Elise Archer MP, Janine O’Rourke, David Drysdale of Greenhill Nursery, Tini & Jake Drysdale, Nadine and Matt Scrimgeour of Twelve Acre Wood (The Guest Cabin), Talita Estelle of Esther & Co. and Andrew Reeson.
Emily’s Voice still needs to raise an extra $50,000 by June 30 to funds its biggest media campaign.
Please give your special gift today so we can be in more places, more often.