Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Lila Rose talk in London



Last week, Lila Rose, spoke in London about the work of Live Action. You can listen to the talk here on the soundcloud.

Abortion in the UK: A summary


Abortion in the UK: a summary (April 2014)

Statistics for 2012 (unless stated):

Total population of the UK:
63,705,000

Total female population of the UK:
32,390,000 1
(of whom 26,542,000 are aged 16+)

Total births/year in the UK:
813,200 1

Total abortions/year:
197,570 (Eng, Wales & Scotland)

Pregnancies ending in abortion:
Approximately 1 in 5


Note: Abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland
Totals since 1967

Total abortions since 1967: 7,906,000 (Eng, Wales & Scotland)

Abortions among all women aged 15+: Approximately 1 in 3 of all adult women in the UK will have at least one abortion during their lifetime.

Legal situation in the UK

Abortion was legalised in the United Kingdom (excluding N.I) in 1967 for babies up to 28 weeks in the womb. A later amendment in 1990 reduced the time limit to 24 weeks, however a new clause added at that time allowed for handicapped babies to be aborted up to birth.

However, many would argue that due to the wording of the abortion act – which states that if two registered medical practitioners are of the opinion “formed in good faith” that “continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman” then abortion is not an offence – in the vast majority of cases, abortion is actually still illegal; as no doctor could genuinely justify the above statement truly acting in “good faith”.
Main abortion providers

National Health Service hospitals undertook 35% of all abortions in 2012.

The NHS also funded 62% of all privately contracted abortions in 2012, of which the two main providers are:

- Marie Stopes International
- Original ‘family planning’ clinic founded in 1921 in London by the Eugenicist Marie Stopes (b.1880, d.1958).
- Marie Stopes International founded in 1976.
- Today, 17 ‘clinics’ that undertake abortions across England.
- Cost for an abortion: from £545 to £2,040.
- Annual income (2012) £173million (worldwide)

- British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS)
- Founded in 1968, the year the abortion law came into effect.
- Today, 19 ‘clinics’ across England, Wales & Scotland.
- Cost for an abortion: from £545 to £1,695.
- Annual income (2012) £27million

Just 3% of all abortions in the UK in 2012 were privately funded.3

Public opinion on abortion

2009 MORI poll Should women have the right of access abortion:
• 57% Strongly agree or tend to agree
• 12% Neither agree nor disagree
• 19% Tend to disagree (7%) or strongly disagree (12%)
• 12% Don't know or preferred not to answer
2005 YouGov/Daily Telegraph
Poll
• 57% in favour of 24 weeks or greater
• 28% in favour of 12 weeks or lower
• 6% responded that abortion should never be allowed
2004 Times/Populus poll • 75% believe it should be mostly or always legal
• 20% believe it should "mostly" be illegal
• 4% believe it should "always" be illegal

Recent Developments (most recent first)

In March 2014 an investigation undertaken for Channel 4’s ‘Dispatches’ television programme revealed that several hospitals across the UK were incinerating the remains of premature babies, with no dignity shown to the foetuses. In some incidences, the babies were thrown in with ‘industrial waste’ and used to provide power to heat the hospitals. As a result of the programme the practice was banned by the government and the babies must now be dealt with in a more respectful and compassionate manner.

** In February 2014 the Daily Telegraph ran another series of undercover investigations; this time going into pro-life counselling centres. Their reports filmed a member of staff in one of these centres advising a woman that abortion will increase her risk of becoming a child abuser. Other advice was given with regard to the abortion-breast cancer link. Overall, the story made a few headlines, but was nowhere near as big as the investigation into sex-selection abortions. A number of pro-life commentators in the UK agreed that the staff in these clinics were wrong to have said what they said.

Towards the end of 2013 the Department of Health announced a consultation on proposed new regulations for abortion clinics; in particular with respect to how women are treated in these clinics and what information is given to them. The consultation process was very controversial, not least because it was not publicly announced in the normal way that all government consultations are announced. Additionally the revision of the procedures tried to sneak in certain provisions, including taking away the need for two doctors to have actually met or examined a woman seeking an abortion. The government will issue its final proposals in response to the recommendations later in 2014.

In July 2013 an independent Parliamentary Inquiry into abortion on the grounds of disability was published. The vast majority of those who gave written evidence for the report believed that allowing abortion up to birth on the grounds of disability was discriminatory, contrary to the spirit of the Equality Act, and does affect wider public attitudes towards discrimination. The Commission that published the report recommended a review of the disability provision in the Abortion Act 1967. However to date (April 2014) no such action has been taken. The report was published one year after Britain hosted what was agreed to have been a very successful Paralympics games in London.

In September 2013, The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said it will not pursue a prosecution of two doctors who agreed to arrange illegal abortions; in effect making it legal to abort babies based upon their gender. The announcement by the CPS caused much controversy, with many observers stating that the body was in effect defining laws which only parliament has the authority to make. 50 MPs called for a review of the CPS’s decision.

In June 2013, BPAS announced that they would stop performing abortions at their Bedford Square (central London) clinic. This clinic was where 40 Days for Life had just finished holding its fifth vigil outside the clinic, and several other pro-life groups had been praying outside the clinic for many years previously. It was initially announced that the clinic would continue to provide other services, however in February 2014 a 40 Days for Life volunteer saw that the premises were available to rent; making this the first permanent closure of an abortion facility outside of the United States after a 40 Days for Life campaign.

In March 2012 the Care Quality Commission (CQC) undertook a series of unannounced inspections at abortion clinics across the country. They found that 1 in 5 clinics were in some way not following proper standards. The biggest problem they found was the mass ‘pre-signing’ of consent forms by doctors, i.e. authorising women to have abortions without even reviewing their cases. The incident caused much consternation among abortion industry leaders!

** In February 2012 the Daily Telegraph ran a series of articles based upon an undercover investigation into sex-selection abortion that they had undertaken. Several doctors at abortion facilities were filmed authorising abortions based upon the fact that the patient didn’t want to have a baby girl. The investigation made headlines for several days and sparked much debate. The doctors caught sanctioning the abortions were removed from their positions at the clinics and the incidents reported to the police.

In autumn 2010, Robert Colquhoun brought the first 40 Days for Life campaign to the United Kingdom.

Saints to pray to for an end to abortion in the UK

Our Lady of Walsingham Sts George, Andrew, David & Patrick
Our Lady of Guadalupe St Thomas More & St John Fisher
Blessed Mother Teresa St Edward the Confessor
Blessed John Henry Newman St Jude (Patron saint of hopeless cases)
St Gianna Molla St Maria Goretti

Prepared by Mark Banks




[1] Office for National StatisticsAnnual Mid-year Population Estimates, 2011 and 2012.
[2] Department of Health: Abortion Statistics, England and Wales 2012.
[3] Department of Health: Abortion Statistics, England and Wales 2012.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Lila Rose to visit UK



Lila Rose, President of Live Action will be visiting the United
Kingdom on April 13 and 14.

Lila Rose is the president of Live Action, a new media non-profit
dedicated to ending abortion and building a culture of life. Lila
founded Live Action when she was fifteen years old. The group uses new
media to teach the public about the humanity of the unborn and
investigative journalism to expose threats against the vulnerable and
defenceless. As Live Action's President, Lila leads undercover
investigations into America's most notorious abortion facilities,
shining a light on the greatest human rights abuse of our time through
national media campaigns.

Live Action also focuses on educating youth across the country, using
its student magazine, the Advocate, and in depth education programs to
spread the truth about human dignity, equal protection for all people,
and the evils of the abortion industry. Live Action hosts Live Action
News a widely read pro-life news service, and oversees the largest
pro-life social media platform on the web, including over 600,000
facebook fans and over 30,000 followers on twitter.

Lila is a regular on the O'Reilly Factor, Hannity, The Laura Ingraham
Show, as well as many other national TV and radio programs. Her work
has been featured on practically every major news outlet, from CBS to
CNN, from the Los Angeles Times to the Washington Post. Recently, Lila
was named among the Red Alert's '30 under 30' and among the National
Journal's 25 Most Influential Washington Women under 35. She is an
international public speaker on family and culture issues.


Speaking events see: liveaction.eventbrite.co.uk

Sunday April 13, 7pm, Ealing Abbey Hall, 2 Marchwood Crescent, Ealing W5 2DZ

Monday April 14, 2pm-5pm Pro-life boot camp training, Farm Street
Parish Hall, 114 Mount Street, Mayfair, London W1K 3AH

Monday April 14, 7pm Farm Street Parish Hall, 114 Mount Street,
Mayfair, London W1K 3AH

Monday, 31 March 2014

Gosnell the Movie: Crowdsourcing appeal



Some well renowned filmmakers are making an appeal to make a film about Kermit Gosnell.

You can donate towards the cause here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gosnell-movie

Dr. Kermit Gosnell is the most prolific serial killer in American History, but almost no one knows who he is. 
The Grand Jury investigating Kermit Gosnell's horrific crimes said this:
          This case is about a doctor who killed babies ... What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy – and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors .... Over the years, many people came to know that something was going on here. But no one put a stop to it.   (Report of the Grand Jury) 

he censorship of the Gosnell story ends now. 

We are raising funds for this movie through a revolutionary website called Indiegogo. 
Indiegogo enables “crowdfunding” for important projects.

But here’s the catch. We've set the budget. But if we fail to raise our target budget, Indiegogo will return all the funds, we will received nothing and the film will never be made.

Indiegogo allows us to bypass the Hollywood studios and the usual funding sources for movies.
Hollywood never would fund a movie such as this.

We funded our last film FrackNation using crowdfunding.

So far, the biggest “crowd funded” film of all-time is the Veronica Mars movie, a teen detective story that asked for $2.1m and raised $5.7m, we think the Gosnell movie is more important, we think you do too.
So we are asking for $2.1m and we are hoping to break the record and make history. 

With your help we're going to hire the best screenwriter, director and actors to make sure that the story of Kermit Gosnell gets into every home in America. 

Please pledge right now. 

We tell a lot about ourselves by the stories we choose to tell and the ones we want to cover up or ignore. Please help us tell this important story. 

It's a frightening testament to the power of the media that very few people even know about Kermit Gosnell: America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer.

This is your chance to bypass the media “information gatekeepers” to get tens of millions of Americans thinking about what happened in Philadelphia. 

Please send a message that we don't have to wait for someone else to tell the stories that matter, we can do it ourselves.
Please pledge right now and then please then get 10 friends to pledge. 
Thank you so much for helping us make history.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

What is covenant eyes?


What is Covenant Eyes? from Covenant Eyes on Vimeo.

More than a decade ago, Covenant Eyes founder Ron DeHaas faced the same questions many people face today.

“How can I teach my children to use the Internet with integrity?”
“How do I guard my own heart and remain pure online?”
“How do I serve as an example to my family and church?”
Realizing the threat the Internet poses without proper monitoring, he formed Covenant Eyes to equip people to protect themselves and their families from online dangers.

Located in Owosso, Michigan, Covenant Eyes is the pioneer of Internet Accountability software, empowering our members to maintain their online integrity. Aware of an ever-growing need to better equip parents, Covenant Eyes has developed a family Internet filter that restricts usage based on parental controls.

Covenant Eyes has grown to more than 50 employees serving members in more than 150 countries.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

The economics of sex by the Austin Institute



This Research Animate pulls together some of the key sexual economics arguments made by social scientists, including Roy Baumeister, Kathleen Vohs, Timothy Reichert, Mark Regnerus, and George Akerlof. For more: http://www.austin-institute.org/ai-re...

Like the Austin Institute on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Austin...

Follow the Austin Institute on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/AtxInstitute

Essential to the mission of the Austin Institute is the dissemination of both thought-provoking and rigorous academic research on family, sexuality, social structures and human relationships. In order to engage a wider audience, we are developing select research projects into a medium amenable to our digital age.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Save lives, change the world


40 Days for Life: Save Lives. Change the World. from 40 Days for Life on Vimeo.

Watch this inspiring video to learn how YOU can save lives and change the world. You will see former abortion workers and also babies spared from abortion in the video. Inspiring high value content!

Today's Throwaway Culture - Talk by Monsignor O'Reilly


Monsignor O'Reilly, the founder of the Helpers of God's Precious Infants is speaking in London on Tuesday 11 March at 6pm at Vaughan House, 46 Francis Street, SW1P 1QN on "Today's throwaway culture." He is a great speaker and this event is well worth attending. His group peacefully and prayerfully wins hearts for the Gospel of Life.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Abby Johnson and Shawn Carney Talk in Oxford



This is the talk Questions and Answers following the Oxford Talk with Abby Johnson and Shawn Carney. Really fascinating and well worth reading.

Ascension Press - one of the best Catholic publishers out there

Some of the most impressive Catholic resources that I have come across have been published by Ascension Press.

The study programs, books and other resources are faith formation materials for Catholic parishes, schools and organisations. Courses include theology of the body, Church history, Confirmation, Bible Study, Marriage preparation just to mention some of the areas. I am not aware of any other organisation that has effectively communicated what the New Evangelization means for lay Catholics and how to communicate this to a wider audience.

Jeff Cavins has produced some fantastic resources to help Christians to fully understand the Bible. The Great Bible Timeline is a brilliant resource for helping the average Catholic understand the Bible and then also apply it to their life. All of his resources are well worth reading.

Christopher West is one of the leading proponents of promoting John Paul II's Theology of the Body. The resources for this field are outstanding and life changing message for many people.

One of the most impressive programs is the Confirmation study program just about to come out. It is astonishing to think that Catholic parishes have not considered having a more systematised methodology of the confirmation process before and than it is done on more of a random process. This study program looks outstanding from all accounts so far.

I highly recommend their resources, and hope that their message spreads far and wide, to the ends of the world and back again! Some of the books and study programs will be life changing for participants and help to explain the beauty and joy of the Gospel in a new way for the modern world.


Monday, 17 February 2014

March for Life in Birmingham




The March for Life is happening in Birmingham this March for the third year running. Please attend! All the details are provided on the flyer above. The event is from 12.30 to 3.30pm assembling at St Chad's Cathedral and posters and banners will be provided.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Stephanie Gray at the Students for Life Conference - brilliant!



Stephanie Gray, of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, speaks at the annual Students for Life of America conference on reaching hearts and minds on abortion: challenging the "I'm pro-life, but..."

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Want this to Happen in YOUR town?


Breaking news... 

BPAS Bedford Square has become the 45th abortuary to shut down for good following a 40 Days for Life campaign. 

This is the first ever abortuary to close outside of North America following a 40 Days for Life campaign.

The abortuary stopped doing abortions last summer, however it has only been just recently that the centre has closed for good. The property is available for £290,000 p.a. on the market.

Marie Stopes in Whitfield Street and BPAS Twickenham have seen a considerable decline in opening hours and abortion numbers over the last year, both 40 days for life vigil sites. 

Over 2,500 hours of prayer were organised outside BPAS Bedford Square, and over 50 women scheduled for an abortion chose life for their children as a result of our peaceful, prayerful and legal presence there. 

The story is covered extensively in the 40 Days for Life book launched last year. 

Will the abortuary near you be next?

This latest news shows that prayer has the ability to change hearts and minds and impact local communities. 

Our next campaign begins on Ash Wednesday, March 5 - please join us in prayer! 



Photo: Bedford Square during a 40 Days for Life prayer vigil.

Yours for life,

Robert Colquhoun

Friday, 31 January 2014

Choose Life Choose Love Conference



From 28 February 2014 to Sunday 2 March at St Patrick's, Soho, the Westminster Office for Family Life are holding a conference "Choose Life - Choose Love. Beauty, Freedom and the Family."

Speakers include Sr Renee Mirkes, Nicky and Sila Lee and John Henry Westen as well as Jonathan Doyle. Looks well worth attending.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Lizanne shares her story of choosing life


The Jaala Story - Sidewalk Advocates for Life from Sidewalk Advocates on Vimeo.

A mother, Lizanne, shares her story of choosing life, and encountering love, peace, and prayer on the sidewalk. For more inspiring stories of life, and to learn more about Sidewalk Advocacy, go to SidewalkAdvocates.org.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Breaking the Silence Talk



Here is the Breaking the Silence talk.

West Coast March for Life 2014



This excellent video shows the highlights from the March For Life San Francisco 2014.

The Family, A culture that can be changed.

The Journey Home



Guest host JonMarc Grodi welcomes pro-life activist Abby Johnson. Learn about her Baptist upbringing, her time as a Planned Parenthood clinic director and how her pro-life conversion ultimately led her to the Catholic Church.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

EWTN March For Life San Francisco Coverage



Once again EWTN gave full coverage to the Walk for Life West Coast. This year’s on-site hosts were Jim and Joy Pinto, with Doug Keck and Fr. Joseph Mary Wolfe back in the studio. God Bless them! I feature at 37.30 on the youtube clip.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Jonathan Doyle - Beyond the Digital Prison



On Tuesday 4 March, Jonathan Doyle will be speaking in London on addiction, hope and Theology of the Body.

Jonathan Doyle is a leading expert on internet pornography addiction and Catholic sexual ethics. Founder of CHOICEZ Media in Australia, he is renowned internationally for his wisdom on moral development of young people. His talk will address issues for parents, educators, clergy and youth leaders. All welcome but please register with cathmacgillivray@rcdow.org.uk as space is limited. We will ask for £5 on the door to help with costs.

http://www.rcdow.org.uk/pastoralaffairs/default.asp?id=284



Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Interview with David Alton

DAVID ALTON INTERVIEW


Robert:            So we are here this morning with David Alton. Who, for 18 years, was a member of the House of Commons. Today he is in the House of Lords, as an independent cross bench life peer. He began his career as a teacher, but he was elected to the City Council in Liverpool as the youngest Councillor there. He joined the House of Commons in 1979. In 1997, he was made a life peer of the House of Lords.
David, it’s really a pleasure to be with you here today. It’s really great to come and ask your experience and expertise, specifically on the issue of abortion and your personal political experience in this field. Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview.

David:              My pleasure.

Robert:            Why has there not been a more serious legislative attempt in the last 20 years to bring either a bill or political influence on the issue of abortion? Has it been because of the negative experience in 1990 or are there other reasons?

David:              I certainly think that  the experiences of 1988 and 1990 weighed on people’s minds during the five or six years that followed. And then the 1997 General Election radically changed the political climate. The election of a Labour Government with a very significant majority, and which clearly overwhelmingly supported the status quo, meant that there would be inherent dangers in bringing forward Bills or attempt to the abortion legislation.

If you open the Pandora’s Box, knowing that there is a huge majority stacked against you, then the danger is the law would be made even more permissive. That might include the removal of the two doctors requirement on the green forms authorizing abortion, which we know is one of the objectives of the pro-abortion lobby. It might involve the dilution of the conscience clause which we know irritates many within the pro-abortion movement.

It might also involve the extension of legislation to Northern Ireland over the head of the NI assembly. So there are dangers, but this should not imply that nothing has been going on, on a legislative front or that nothing has been done at Westminster during this period. The issue is constantly raised through questions and through debates, through reports like the recent report that was undertaken on the disability clause that allows abortion up to and even during birth on a child with a disability.

We have promoted  a whole series of initiatives on issues like gender abortion; highlighting the exports of our own abortion culture to come to us in a developing world; but also highlighting the aggressive, corrosive policies in countries like China. We hosted, for instance, Chen Guangcheng who suffered for years in prison and helped secure his release and we brought him here to Westminster to honour him with an award.

We also staged the premier of a pro-life movie called Doonby . 

All this is about  trying to stimulate debate and discussion.

Pope Francis is right when he says that if you want to see changes in legislation the first thing we have to do is to re-evangelize society. Unless there is a change in the hearts and minds of people in this country  we won’t change the hearts and minds of  the people who are elected to Parliament. There is no point in simply demanding bills be brought forward if those bills aren’t going to go anywhere. When I introduced my bill in 1987, it was after I carefully weighed out whether I could achieve a parliamentary majority for it or not.

Robert:            Can you describe what it’s like to be at the center of a political debate on abortion like that in 1988 and what was the experience, what are some of the stories, controversy and conflictyou experienced?

David:              The first thing I recall is the warning I was given that bringing forward such a private members bill would break me personally and would destroy me politically.

                      People pointed to the experience of John Corey who had brought forward a private members bill a couple years earlier. I was warned that it would be personally foolhardy and politically disastrous. I weighed this up and considered what point would there be in promoting such a bill. I concluded that there was a need to reopen the debate about abortion. At the very outset I concluded that the possibility of actually getting a bill through parliament was remote, but I also calculated that I might be able to get a parliamentary majority for my bill. I knew that this would  provide the pro-life movement with a dose of oxygen which it really needed.  After all in 1967, when I was still at school, when the original legislation was passed, only 29 members of the House of Commons voted against that bill.

By the time the debate on my own bill has been concluded and the second reading vote was taken in January 1988, some 296-70’s by majority of 45 voted for its second reading. The bill never lost a vote at any stage. More than a million cards arrived at parliament, cards and letters supporting the bill. It put the pro-life issue back firmly on the agenda.

The point of doing private member bills or the point in trying to amend the legislation isn’t necessarily because you think they are going to pass at parliament. It is so you show the strength of pro-life feeling in the country and in parliament, which we were able to do, and secondly to reopen the debate, which we were able to do, and change some minds.

I certainly know that we achieved these objectives because I received many letters from people telling me that they changed their minds as a result of hearing the argument. I think this experience is one which should give encouragement to anybody else thinking about bringing forward a private members bill in the future. I think the political climate at the moment is better than it was during the last government. There are many good pro-life MPs in the House of Commons and I hope that after the next general election there might be more. I certainly think it’s about time that there be another major bill.

Robert:            So you think there was something to the positive that emerged from the attempts to which we see abortion in the 1980’s and is that why so few politicians are willing to take a stand for life, for the intimidation, harassment, career, repression they might experience?

David:              I don’t want to over-exaggerate it, but you have to know what you’re doing if you are going to take on a pro-life bill. If you’re just trying to generate publicity it’s really not a good enough reason to do a private members pull on the abortion issue. If you really believe in the sanctity of human life, from conception then you don’t have any choice if you get an opportunity to do a bill of that kind. That’s how I felt.

I’d been in the House nearly 10 years. I knew I had the experience to take on a controversial and tough question, but I also knew that this was an issue that had been close to my heart since I was a boy at school. I felt it was time that someone, not from the right of politics, but who had a coherent view about social justice and human rights t should demonstrate that you did not need to be right of Genghis Khan  in order to care about the unborn child.

I felt that responsibility fell to me at that moment and it now falls to others.  No doubt I could have brought in alternative  private members bill that would have been very popular and would have endeared me to the politically correct in the commentariat.

But that didn’t seem to me to be the overriding priority or the right thing to do.

As it happened, after my bill was over, even though it led to ostracism within my party, I felt it important to defend my seat at the next general election and to show that you could do a private members bill and survive to tell the story. My majority actually went up at the following general election. The effect within my party though was rather different because they decided then to make the issue a matter of party policy and that led to them and I going our separate ways.

In terms of the physical or verbal abuse, you can get that on a lot of issues. My constituency offices were burned out. We had pickets outside the house. The public meetings were constantly invaded by demonstrators and, on one occasion, I even had my surgery broken up by demonstrators . this was when people were coming to see me to discuss their private problems and personal issues with which they were faced. I found all of that rather bewildering because it demonstrated to me that some of those who were opposing what I was trying to do, couldn’t even contemplate the idea of free speech.

That says something about the intolerance with which we are faced and which from wherever it comes is wholly objectionable. So I learned a lot during the course of a bill. If I was in the same situation again I guess with the really big leading question be would you do the same again? The answer is unequivocally a yes.

Robert:            If somebody were to say what relevance will someone like William Wilberforce have to the pro-life movement, how would you bring in comparables there, and what sort of contemporary relevance and importance would he have and what lessons would he have for the pro-life movement today?

David:              Well the first thing is not to attach too much importance to one man. If you’ve ever seen the movie Amazing Grace it’s captioned “one man who abolished slavery” or words to that effect.  Although it’s a brilliant movie, that isn’t true. It wasn’t one man. It was the Quaker women who first formed the anti-slavery association in London. It was the Quaker women who then invited a young man, Thomas Clarkson, who dropped out of his divinity studies at Cambridge University, to come to their meeting house. Thomas Clarkson became the organizer of the anti-slavery movement and he spent the next 60 years organizing meetings up and down the length of this country. It was he who approached a young new MP, the youngest member of the House  - who was not a Christian when he was elected a member of Parliament - William Wilberforce. Clarkson invited Wilberforce to join the anti-slavery movement. He also drew in a very distinguished lawyer, Granville Sharpe, who had challenged the slavery laws in the British courts and had been successful in getting Mr. Justice Mansfield to rule that at least within this jurisdiction of in these islands, it wasn’t permissible for someone to own another man as a slave.

So the point I’m making is that gradually a coalition was formed, an alliance of like-minded people and then they drew in people like Josiah Wedgewood, who manufactured a million badges or pieces of pottery that had on them the motifs of a chained slave with the logo “Am I Not a Man and a Brother.” Hair braids were made for the ladies with the same legend on them. They drew in academics. They drew in poets like William Roscoe, people who could pull a punch.  This became the first human rights campaign in history.

A million signatures were collected, petitions were submitted to parliament, public meetings were held up and down the land, boycotts were organized against the imported sugar from the plantations which were being used to enslave black Africans in the Caribbean or in Brazil, and on the plantations in the United States. Public conscience and sensibilities were aroused against the slave trade. As a consequence, attitudes and hearts began to change in the nation as awareness and that in turn challenged Parliamentarians.

Now one thing that Thomas Clarkson did was to bring evidence, first to the meetings. He brought with him manacles and chains, the sorts of things were used on the boats to chain people as they were being transported on the middle passage from Africa to America. People were horrified when they saw these things and knowing that it was being done in their name. He brought witnesses to those meetings, a young African called Olaudah Equiano for instance who spoke movingly about his own escape from slavery and risked his life speaking in public meetings in places like Liverpool and Bristol which were mired in the slave trade.

To  parliament they brought people who had been convinced to change their minds, most notably John Newton who had been a slave trader, and who described what conditions were like on the ships and how they turned disabled and sick people over the sides of the ship because they would no longer be worth any money once they arrived at their destination. This truly shocked people and gradually Wilberforce began one by one by one introducing bills, challenging the laws. Ironically it wasn’t an anti-slavery measure that finally went through parliament and which ended the trade. What might we learn from this?

When abolitionists within the pro-life movement start telling parliamentarians their business, they are out of order because they often have no idea of how parliament works or what is achievable or what is possible.  Their job is to change the attitudes, hearts, and mind of people in the country. They’re not doing that job in many cases. Until they do, they then can’t complain when it is a seeming impossibility of changing laws here. If they want to learn anything from the anti-slavery movement, it’s that those two things have to go on in parallel and that finally you have to trust the leadership of the parliamentarians to know when the moment is right and how best to go about it.

What Wilberforce did in the last analysis was not a bill to end the slave trade. It was a financial measure. It was an amendment to the finance bill that amended the laws to make it completely worthless to people to carry on trading in slaves. It would result in them being subject to such heavy taxation that it would actually cost them money to carry on the trade rather than generate profit. We might consider applying the same principle to the abortion business. Desirable though it would be, if it were possible,, to end all abortion tomorrow. There are other things that perhaps you have to do in order to get to the same destination.

Robert:            Why do you think there is so much apathy and indifference especially in the Churches on the issue of abortion, and what do you think is the solution or response to that issue? Why do stories about abortion stay suppressed?

David:              I think there is a combination of reasons why the churches have been reluctant to become more involved in pro-life work. One is that many of the casualties of abortion will be people who attend churches. There are nearly 7 million abortions that have taken place in Britain. In addition to the women who have had those abortions, will be men who have pushed them into it. There will be the doctors, the nurses, and all the people who have been involved. Many of them are very reluctant to see this issue raised and some of them are members of churches. Church leaders themselves are wary of speaking on this issue because they know that within their congregations there will be people who have been damaged by abortion.

                       Men, in particular, have become cowardly about this issue because they’ve been told by others it’s none of their business. That it’s purely a women’s issue is palpably untrue because it takes a man to get a women pregnant. There are as many unborn babies that are male than female so this is an issue that affects male and female alike. It’s not just a women’s issue but many men have become cowards of that and have become very reluctant to speak on these things.

I think that the discourse on abortion has been shaken by people who are often very prejudice and bigoted. Their lack of charity in the things they say makes others very reluctant to identify with those arguments. I’ve seen evidence of that again and again. Also it is a grave error for pro life groups to identify  issues of the sanctity of human life of an unborn child with other questions, such as gay rights.  This pigeon holes the pro-life movement in a way that makes it very inaccessible to the vast majority of the population who don’t necessarily hold any of those other views.

Robert:            Yes. So what more do you think that pro-lifers can do to help build a culture of life? Who are some of the most inspiring people that you’ve seen in this field? And where do you see hope in the pro-life stand and pro-life work, some heroes?  Where is the sense of hope, and what can people in the grassroots be doing specifically?

David:              Well first Phyllis Bowman still remains, for me, one of the great heroines of the last 40 years.. She was in favor of abortion. She changed her mind . We need people like her, people like Norma McCorvey, otherwise known as Jane Roe, people like Bernard Nathenson, who changed their minds, and people like Dr.Alveda King who changed her mind. None of the people I mentioned were or are perfect in any sense of that word, and I find it therefore much easier to identify with than some of the self-proclaimed champions of the pro-life cause.
                      I enormously admire Jack Scarisbrick and his wife Nuala for creating a network of pro-life houses, education initiatives, and hospices for dying babies. I admired people like Chen Guangcheng who was willing to go to prison in order to highlight the forced abortions in the 130 thousand women in the Shandong province. I think these are the people who have personified the best of the pro-life spirit.

At the moment, I must say I am very taken by some of the young people, people like Eve Farren and Ed Smith who forced the pro-life student alliance who seem to be drawing in a new wave of young people, intelligent, articulate, without a lot of prejudice or baggage.  I think they are a very good advertisement to the pro-life movement and I really hope they do well.

Robert:            If you could project for the next 40 years are you a pessimist or an optimist? For the black civil rights movement, it was a story of someone sitting on the bus that brought great changes. If changes were to happen how would they happen?

David:              I think it is said that a pessimist is an optimist with a sense of history. I’m neither optimistic nor pessimistic. I’m a realist. When I came up in the private members ballot, Professor Scarisbrick came to see me and urged me to do a bill to reduce the time limit, but he said to me, “David if you do this it will be a hard row to hoe.” I think being utterly realistic about the future, people have got to understand this is going to be a tough and never ending battle. This is not an issue for faint hearts. There is nothing easy about pro-life. I see a lot of casualties on the wayside over these years and no doubt there will be others before it’s done.

                        The Jewish rabbi who said the man or woman who saves a single life, saves the world was right. Maybe that’s all that people can hope to do, but that in itself is a high enough aspiration. We’ve got to continue challenging hearts, challenging minds, challenging attitudes and through that challenging legislatures and the laws themselves. We need many more resources to do that effectively. We operate on a shoestring. There is not a single full-time employee at the present time work in parliament on these issues, not one. I look at the battery of people on the other side employed, for instance, to try now to legalize assisted dying and euthanasia and keep entrenched the reproductive rights agenda. Being realistic, we need more resources and we need many more people to commit themselves in the way that Thomas Clarkson did, to 60 long years of hard organization.

 It may take longer than that, but in every generation there are always new battles to fight and new demons to face. This, though, is the supreme human rights question. There cannot be anything more important than the deliberate ending of a life of an innocent child in the womb. It should be the safest place in the world and yet in Britain it’s the most dangerous place for a child to be. I think we need to just persist and persist and persist. That should be our watch word and better do it with some humility with prayerfulness and with a sense that all things gather for good. In the end this is a battle that is in God’s hands. We’ve simply got to do what we can. Mother Theresa who perhaps remains for me the great icon of pro-life issues, once said to me, “You’re not called upon to be successful, you’re called upon to be faithful.” I think maybe that should be our watch word of the pro-life movement.

                        I suppose if you want one other hero for people to look to, look to the man who helped to redeem all the hatred of the Third Reich of the Holocaust the horrors that lead to 6 million people being killed in the concentration camps: Maximillian Kolbe. He stepped forward and gave his life for his beliefs and literally took the place of another man who was facing execution. You could certainly argue that act of sacrifice redeemed all of the people who failed to take a stand, who collaborated, or who were quiet, or just drifted along as so many of us do in our own times. We can take inspiration from people like him.

Robert:            And for the last questions, do you think there is development on the issue of informed consent? Is that an issue that could have more prominence?

David:              It’s gone very quiet on that issue at the moment, so I don’t feel a great deal of political traction. On the other hand there is a lot of traction on the issue of gender abortion. This is a good place for us to start because as the slogan that underpinned the whole of the abortion rights is in “my right to choose.” I always say to people analyze the words in that slogan, one at a time. It puts me or my or I at the heart of the equation. It emphasizes rights, not duties or responsibilities or obligations, to the weakest amongst us. It insists on choice rather than looking at consequences. Choice is always made at other people’s expense. It’s an ugly slogan that needs to be deconstructed on every possible occasion.

                        It’s a very good thing to ask people who say they believe in the right to choose, whether they think it is legitimate to take the life of a little girl merely because she is a little girl, on the grounds of gender. Some people in the pro-abortion movement say yes they do support that and at least they are being logical, many do not. If they don’t think it is right, then they don’t really believe in a right to choose and that’s a good thing. Let’s encourage them not to believe in a right to choose, and to admit that they really don’t believe in a right to choose. 

The moment you say, not in the case of gender, then you have to ask the question, if it were possible to determine someone’s orientation would it be legitimate?  No. Would it be legitimate on the grounds of race? No. Why is it legitimate on the grounds that someone has Down’s Syndrome? Ninety percent of the babies with Down’s Syndrome are now routinely aborted in this country. People feel, is it legitimate to do that up to and even during birth, should that just be a matter of choice? If it’s not legitimate for all those reasons, why is it legitimate on the 98% of the cases of abortions are done under the social clause?

One at a time the arguments need to be deconstructed and I think the reason why I speak a lot about the gender issue is not because I think the vast number of abortions take place on the grounds of gender, it is because it helps to deconstruct the slogan that itself has become the liet motif against which the abortion argument has been waged. We need to be intelligent about this whereas I think sometimes we aren’t intelligent. We now have our own slogans and sound bites but people are on tramlines and it goes nowhere. It’s not the way.

Robert:            Thank you so much for your time. I really, really appreciate it and thanks so much for being available to interview today.

David:              Pleasure.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Abortion: Breaking the Silence in the Church



Abortion

Breaking the silence in the Church

abortiontalk.eventbrite.co.uk

St Wilfrid's Hall, Oratory House, Brompton Road, London, SW7 2RP

The talk is at 3pm on 28 January 2014 and is repeated at 7pm.

Helping Christians respond with humility, compassion and understanding

Robert Colquhoun and Jonathan Jeffes

The purpose of the seminar is to introduce you to a programme called Breaking the Silence. It is a teaching resource to help Christians navigate the sensitivities and raise the issue within their own Churches.

Over one third of all women in Britain will have an abortion at some point in their life. Despite its widespread acceptance in contemporary society, a powerful and uncomfortable silence has grown up around abortion in the Church.

What should Christians think and say about abortion?

This talk aims to help Christians to break the silence.

YOU will discover...

x An overview of tradition Christian teaching and theology

x Analysis of why there is an uncomfortable silence in the Church

x A simple strategy for change to help Christians listen to others and respond to the issue with humility, compassion and understanding.

x Practical advice including guidance on speaking about abortion with sensitivity in a Church setting, and on handling it compassionately as a pastoral issue.

Jonathan Jeffes is a crisis pregnancy counsellor and has led post-abortion recovery groups for women and men for over twenty years. It is from the perspective of those who have experienced abortion in the past that Jonathan writes and speaks from. He is a regular speaker in Churches and theological colleges in the UK and is the author of two books on the subject.

Robert Colquhoun is the UK campaign director and international outreach co-ordinator for 40 Days for Life.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

International Pro-Life Youth Conference 2014

youthcconferencepic

International Pro-Life Youth Conference 2014

You are warmly invited to the 7th International Pro-Life Youth Conference, Friday 7 – Sunday 9 March 2014, at the University of Wolverhampton Telford Campus Conference Centre.
We have expert speakers from Canada, Austria, Ireland, and the UK:
Rev. Dr. Philip Egan (Bishop of Portsmouth)
John-Henry Westen (Co-Founder and Editor of LifeSiteNews.com)
Dr. William Newton (Dean and Lecturer Steubenville University)
Dr. Helen Watt (Senior Research Fellow Anscombe Bioethics Centre)
John Smeaton (SPUC Chief Executive)
Fiorella Nash (SPUC researcher and novelist)
Patrick Buckley (Head of European Life Network).
The cost is only £100, which includes conference fee, all talks, meals and refreshments, accomodation, and evening entertainment. Sponosored places are available.
Email conference@spuc.org.uk or call 020-7091-7091 to receive your booking form