Queensland life march busts media stereotypes
There was something markedly different about Brisbane’s second March for Life of 2018 – different from any other pro-life march throughout Australia as far back as a millennial such as this writer can remember.
In years gone by, march organisers would be happy to receive any mainstream media coverage whatsoever; if they were so lucky, facts were disregarded for the “greater good” of the feminist narrative: that abortion is a battle between trendy, patriarchy-destroying women and their old, white, Christian male foes.
Even a photo from Brisbane’s 2012 Rally for Life, as it was then known, shows a modest crowd populated with a demographic composed mostly of post-middle-aged pro-lifers. They fit the feminist narrative perfectly.
In February of 2017, after months of lobbying against Independent Cairns MP Rob Pyne’s two Abortion Reform Bills, a concerted effort on the part of a coalition of pro-life supporters in Queensland to change the public face of the pro-life cause began. If MPs were going to vote these bills down, they needed to know that groups other than white, Christian males were passionate about stopping abortion in Queensland. In order to hit the feminist narrative where it hurt most, the new face needed to be female, young, and not explicitly religious.
Providentially, the drawn-out campaign against the Pyne bills drew young, attractive pro-life women from everywhere. The extremity of the bills and the lack of accurate reporting in both social and traditional media over a long period appear to have effected this shift.
The 2017 March for Life – the anti-Pyne Bills March – had an attendance of about 4,000. This was an increase of at least 3,500 from the rallies of years gone by. And MPs took notice; three weeks later, the bills were withdrawn in the week that they were due to be debated.
This much larger march drew many young families and young adults who had never attended a public pro-life protest of any kind before.
The mainstream media, however, were slow on the uptake. Most outlets did not show up, but simply made phone calls to march organisers for two-minute interviews. They reported that hundreds attended, instead of thousands. They focused on a verbal spat between one pro-lifer and the meagre handful of “pro-choice” counter-protesters.
Cherish Life Queensland and other pro-life leaders there then took a risk by hosting a second march in 2018 after numbers dropped back to 2,000 in March, albeit largely because at that point the Government was yet to table its Termination of Pregnancy 2018 Bill.
The risk paid off, with estimated numbers in excess of 6,000, and, perhaps more importantly, more accurate media coverage than ever. Because this march found itself in the heat of the Queensland Government’s most crucial abortion battle in history, the mainstream media knew they needed to turn up. Little did they know that they would turn up to find the first few hundred people leading the march were youth – predominantly young, attractive, non-religious-looking women.
On top of this there were virtually no protesters, which means that the pro-life movement’s strategy on this point was successful. There was now no fuel to fire the feminist narrative and so the mainstream media’s hand was forced to report accurately on what they saw and heard at the March for Life.
The best example came from Channel 7, in whose coverage a placard of a very human-looking 19-week preborn baby was shown being held aloft in the crowd while Mackenzie Ravn, the reporter, explained how the new bill would allow abortion on demand until 22 weeks, after which all that would be required is the signature of a second doctor.
To balance the report, Deputy Premier Jackie Trad was shown giving the morally vapid argument that the law needs to change simply because abortion was placed in the criminal code in 1899 and it is now 2018. Apparently laws have expiry dates just because!
Though Trad and her hard-left ALP cronies may refuse to accept it, the face of the pro-life movement has changed, and the media narrative has begun to change with it. The question for pro-lifers now is whether it has all happened too late to stop the Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2018.
At this point the Labor Government is confident it has the numbers to pass the bill, which is due to be debated in mid-October. For it to fail, all LNP MPs will need to vote it down, alongside the three KAP MPs, and, most critically of all, at least four Labor MPs.