Tue 23rd Sep 2014 | Last updated: Tue 23rd Sep 2014 at 06:15am

Facebook Logo Twitter Logo RSS Logo
Hot Topics

Comment & Blogs

After the drama of Bedford Square, the pro-life movement faces one enormous challenge

We must win over the average Radio 4 listener who thinks the abortion lobby are the ones who really care about women

By on Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Pro-abortion protesters chant slogans while pro-lifers pray outside the BPAS clinic (PA wire)

Pro-abortion protesters chant slogans while pro-lifers pray outside the BPAS clinic (PA wire)

I previously worked in Parliament on the issue of what is now euphemistically called “assisted dying”. I quickly learnt that compassion is a political currency rapidly increasing in value. The palliative care community, the majority of whom oppose assisted death, are taken seriously by parliamentarians precisely because they are the people who devote their lives to ensuring that people die as painlessly as possible. They are regarded as the consistent and compassionate opponents, utilising their expertise to make the option of assisted death obsolete.

There are some pro-life supporters who do work indefatigably for the welfare of women in order to practically support them through crisis pregnancies. But following Friday night, I realise, more than ever, that we need to commit wholeheartedly to ensuring abortion is an increasingly obsolete option when facing an unplanned pregnancy.

When I last heard Ann Widdecombe speak on the subject of abortion, her central message was that progress would never be made unless we showed genuine compassion and care for women. Those words rang shrill at the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil on Friday evening. Despite the aggression I witnessed from the pro-abortion lobby, the more moderate among them are still convincing the public and themselves that they hold the monopoly on compassion for women.

The main slogan that protestors kept shouting was “stop harassing women” and “you hate women.” Their outrage stems from accusations that supporters of 40 Days for Life have harassed women and even filmed them going into abortion clinics.

So how should 40 Days For Life respond? How can they make clear their commitment and the wider lobby’s commitment to the welfare of women?

Well of course, those who agree with their view of abortion might argue that that is this prayer group’s raison d’être. Members are so concerned about women’s welfare, they dedicate themselves to discouraging women from seeking an abortion for the sake of both baby and mother.

But what about those who don’t agree? The middle-ground who imbibe the Today programme every morning over breakfast, who would not have joined the pro-abortion rally on Friday night, who might even pledge they would never opt for abortion themselves but, nevertheless, who support a “woman’s right to choose.” How might they understand that 40 Days for Life and the wider pro-life lobby is sincerely committed to the welfare of women when powerful groups try to convince them otherwise?

It is paramount that we implement the sacrosanct pro-life principle of upholding women’s dignity. Within the context of 40 Days for Life this means a zero-tolerance policy on behaviour that violates women’s privacy such as photographing or filming them. 40 Days for Life have verbally disassociated themselves from such practices but they must now ensure that offending persons do not attempt to participate in any prayer vigils. Participants must confidently meet the media glare by making this zero-tolerance policy crystal clear.

For the wider lobby, while some work tirelessly to amend the Abortion Act itself, efforts must also be redoubled in ensuring that the options which women face in crisis pregnancy render abortion increasingly unnecessary. Convincing the middle-ground among the media, parliament and the public that pro-life activists genuinely care about the welfare of women is an urgent priority.

In your typical “Any Questions?” audience, most would be uncomfortable with the panellist who accuses palliative care doctors of hating cancer patients. How many would be uncomfortable if he accused pro-life activists of hating women?

  • adornoetal

    I think that the average radio 4 listener realises that the pro-choice groups do genuinely care about women.  After all, what else would they be motivated by – by their lust for more abortions?  Laughable.

  • StewartG

    One thing they care about is the hedonic pleasures of the sexual revolution. Without abortion there is no more consequence free use of women as sex objects. 

    Sex is not a motivation to be laughed at.

  • Recusant

    Well, they seem to care a little less for the women aborted by virtue of their gender, in the UK and elsewhere.

  • Cestius

    Cannot help feeling that while the image of the pro-life movement is important, it really is a side issue.  If we are to win the debate on abortion we must focus on the humanity of the unborn baby, and use every opportunity we can to promote its image and raise the consciousness of the unconvinced that abortion is killing something that clearly resembles a human baby and that it is up to the pro-choice to prove that it isn’t.  The pro-choice lobby would love to divert the debate onto side issues – it is up to us to keep it on the central issue.

  • Ohio Reader

     Really, they “care”? Are they “pro-choice” enough to support the choice to have the child, or to give it up for adoption? Or do they communicate to women, in many subtle and not-so-subtle ways, “Abortion is available. Quit whining and go get one.” That, adorno-et-al, is what “pro-choice groups’ describe as “caring.” That is not supportive, that is not caring, but it is indeed killing–killing the child, and killing the soul of its mother piece by piece. Quit parroting falsehoods; pro-choice groups don’t really care; what they do feel is some sort of sentimental sympathy for a woman in a difficult situation. But instead of helping her (that’s “caring”, by the way), they essentially tell her, “It’s not my problem. Go take the cheaper option.” Once again, just in case the message is not getting through, I’ll say, “That. Is. Not. Caring.”

    Tell me,  do you have many charities who assist young mothers over there sponsored by the pro-choice, the secular humanists, the atheists and social Darwinists? Because in the United States, it’s the churches that do all that stuff.  Because in the pro-abortion mind, the option of abortion lets everyone off the hook. It especially lets irresponsible men off the hook. Abortion is a dream scenario for the worst sort of male, the predator.

    Oh, I forgot, there is one organization–Planned Parenthood. These are charming places that call themselves “clinics”,  where children are routinely drawn and quartered alive in the womb for reasons of eugenics and convenience. Many selfish celebrities support this pernicious corporation masquerading as a benevolent charity. What they are actually doing is funding the elimination of the poor and minorities. Because essentially, non-existence is better than existence in their minds. And that is the heart of our conflict. The rich and the powerful fund a legal genocide.That’s the “caring” pro-choice groups offer. Thanks for bringing that up.

  • theroadmaster

    The common refrain of pro-abortion activists, is that those who oppose their policies, are against “woman’ rights” or “anti-woman”, as if the destruction in life in the womb, was an non-negotiable right and anything to the contrary was a violation of this, and by extension injurious to the well-being of women.  How truth has become inverted during the course of the whole “abortion” issue over the years. Pro-life activists must regain the lost ground by emphasizing how much this terrible industry is completely antithetical to the innate maternal instincts and spiritual and physical/psychological health of women, as reputable studies have shown in recent years.

  • Parasum

    If “pro-lifers” really believe in human dignity, the logic of the belief requires them to believe firmly, and with practical effects in the human dignity of unborn human life, &also in the human dignity of all born human life, including the lives of the people whose convictions they most vigorously oppose.  A seven-month old unborn baby may be less difficult to get on with than Richard Dawkins or a member of Planned Parenthood, but (from a Catholic POV), the unborn baby is no more human than they are; just less difficult in certain ways. One cannot pick and choose whom to think is human – the logic of the  position requires one to affirm that all three are equally human. Logic has no partisan sympathies – if an argument is logically valid, which side it may favour is beside the point. What “the other side” says, is sometimes something their opponents have not taken into account, or would be wise to heed. If discussion can between those of strong convictions can avoid or lose whatever makes it ugly, the discussion may actually bear good fruit.  

    “In your typical “Any Questions?” audience, most would be uncomfortable with the panellist who accuses palliative care doctors of hating cancer patients. How many would be uncomfortable if he accused pro-life activists of hating women?”

    ## True – the converse applies as well. 

    “How might they understand that 40 Days for Life and the wider pro-life lobby is sincerely committed to the welfare of women when powerful groups try to convince them otherwise?”

    ## How people act over a long period of time is better evidence for what they are really like than a few words on a few occasions. Especially if what they do can’t easily be interpreted as self-serving or underhand. Argument is cheap, because just about anything can be argued for – ability to argue convincingly is no proof of good will, benignity, honest purpose, or being in the right. It would be very convenient if talk, & skill in argument, could replace the hard slog of being the sort of person whose advocacy of a cause is a strong argument in its favour – but we haven’t, if we are Christians, been given such easy terms to live on. A character that is all-but-undeniably good is a very strong argument for a cause – its appeal is not confined to the reason, as words are, but appeals to all that people are. If “pro-lifers” cannot see Christ Himself in those whose positions they reject, then they might as well pack up and go home. Believing in the Eucharistic Presence should lead to this. If we really believed in His Presence in our neighbour, the Church and the world would be very different. As would we; b/c people become like what they most believe in.

  • David

    I suggest that you re-read the article. Madeleine is NOT saying that pro-abortion people care; she is saying that to most people they appear to care more than those who are pro-life. Madeleine correctly indicates that those of us in the pro-life movement have an image problem.

    As for us “over there” in the UK, our abortion laws are stricter than most US states, and that probably includes Ohio. You mention the involvment of churches. One of the excellent ways in which the US Catholic Church demonstrates its commitment to pro-life is by many dioceses footing the bill for a woman to have a child – of course, often with the understanding that it will be given for adoption. Due to our praiseworthy system of free health care, that option is not open to the Church in the UK.

    Regarding your nonsensical comment about men – I have known quite a few who were devastated at discovering their wife or girlfriend had opted for an abortion.

  • Aline

    Anybody who is familiar with 40 Days for Life will realise that Madeleine Teahan’s recommentdations that “[the organisers of the 40 Days for Life campaign] must now ensure that offending persons do not attempt to participate in any prayer vigils” and that “participants must confidently meet the media glare by making this zero-tolerance policy crystal clear” are not workable in practice. The simple reason is that it is impossible to know at all times (12h a day every single day for 40 days) who is there and what they are doing. 

    One thing I can assure you though is that prayer volunteers are not interested in taking pictures or filming women going in. That was made up by the Guardian to vilify our campaign. If people are bothered enough to come (and some time from a distance) to pray in front of abortuaries, it is not to get distracted by the taking of pictures, thus losing the benefit of the vigil, and running the risk that a life which could have been saved through prayer, might not be, simply because the prayer volunteer wasted this time taking pictures. 
    We don’t need strategies to win over the public. The whole purpose of praying in public is to keep the abortion issue very much on the people’s minds, and the media does help in that, whether their reports are true or false. Drawing from my own experience, people do not need to be told what to think. But having the abortion issue constantly on their minds, they will soon start wondering why some get excited about the issue, and look into the matter by themselves. We are invited in debates, we give our arguments. The public will realise that the pro-abortion arguments are all non-sense. The whole abortion thing is based on lies and lies eventually collapse. All we need is to expose those lies. As for the pro-abortion people claiming to care for women, I would say if they really cared that much, then they would have showed up in big crowds last Friday, considering the daily audience of the Guardian. Pro-abort are not ready for sacrifice. The idea is totally alien to their mentality. They just want to get rid of innocent children so that they can jump in bed again as before. It is the exhaltation of irresponsibility and they oppose us, not so much because they care for women, but because they see our standing for the unborn as an accusation to them and their sinful ways. 

  • Chrissiedoll

    I really do not agree with your article.

    It doesn’t matter what the pro-choice side (choice to kill a baby) call us, or how they try to portray  us. They are on the back foot. We have the moral high ground in seeking to afford the right to life of each and every human being from conception.

    Pro-aborts have to get over that little inner voice in everyone’s conscience, that tells them that killing a tiny, unborn baby is wrong.  To get over their own inner voice, they adopt a strident ideology to convince themselves, as much as anyone else, that they are right. Abortion is cruel and heartless so it is no wonder  they jump to promote the rights and welfare of the woman so as to appear kind and compassionate in some way.  It really wouldn’t look good for them to hold a public placard saying “I demand the right to kill children if I choose!” 

    Dishonesty on this issue from the media has to be politely challenged as have the illegalities in the abortion trade in this country but, first and foremost, we  have to continue praying and counselling outside abortion clinics and campaigning in Parliament, the EU and the UN. 

    Every clinic and hospital where abortions are carried out should have people praying silently and quietly outside of them. Relentless prayer will win the day and will be a powerful witness in converting others.

  • Oconnord

    I’ve met many women in my life but I’ve yet to meet one who’d be a “sex object”. I ‘d guess that your stupid, hateful and patronising opinion of women is exactly what the article is referring to. 

    The reason the pro-choice people win is because they are empathic and non-judgemental. Two christian values you seem to lack.

  • araceli lorayes

    It’s not women who think of themselves as sex objects. It’s men who do.

  • teigitur

    Except, Damo, there is a tiny chink, nay, gaping hole in your argument.
     Pro-”choice” people make a terrible and final judgement. They judge that the life of the unborn, in some, or indeed all circumstances, is a worthless life.
     Nothing more judgemental than that.

  • teigitur

    Anyone who believes what the jolly old beeb broadcast these days, probably eats all they see.

  • StewartG

    Are you denying that people go out and have one night stands? Are you denying that people have flings? What world do you live in?

    In these commitment free relationships people do indeed use each other for the hedonic pleasure of sex and look to avoid having to be connected to the other person in any meaningful way.

    No, I do not think either person would think of themselves as a sex object and I doubt many would consciously apply those words to the other person. None the less, that is how they are treating each other. This is made most clear by those who actively pursue hook-ups and ‘sex buddies’ (well they have a coarser phrase, but I will avoid that), but is also true in less extreme examples of uncommitted sex. 

    Many an abortion comes about because the father, and indeed mother, were looking for a quick fling or hook-up and want to avoid taking care of the child.

  • StewartG

    “I’ve met many women in my life but I’ve yet to meet one who’d be a “sex object”.”
    This comment had no relevance to my point and I, like you, doubt anybody would call themselves a ‘sex object’. However, just so you can understand the impact  the sexual revolution has had on the dignity of men and women I will enlighten you.

    I have met women who very explicitly and very clearly just wanted to have fun and sex with me. I have met women whose name I barely know slide their foot, from their side of the table, into my groin in an attempt to seduce me. In times long gone such behaviour may have been rare, but today, if you are in anyway an attractive man, women will do such things.

    Further, many women try to compete with pornography by performing the most extreme of sexual acts and very often doing so with men who offer them no commitment. 

    Men are no saints, certainly I do not believe they are better behaved, but neither are women angels. This might be difficult to understand if your own life has been sheltered from experiences like those I describe, but it is the case regardless of your knowing about it.

  • StewartG

    “The reason the pro-choice people win is because they are empathic and non-judgemental. Two christian values you seem to lack.”

    My comment was not in judgement. I am was simply pointing out some peoples motivations for acting in a certain way. Perhaps if you were more able to empathise with me you might be less quick to judge me as judgemental.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IYKZFAKOQTTTV3DZOLV35LBC5M Sylvia

    Abortion is horrible and I am on the borderline of thinking it should be totally illegal. I guess the pro-choice people would think I’m a bad woman.

  • Oconnord

    I’m off my high horse now. I apologise, I simply felt as if you were insulting my female friends. But that doesn’t excuse my rudeness.

    To explain for my part, I’ve been sexually active for about 24 years, 16 of which I was single. For example I had a similar foot incident as you describe, but in my case the woman’s boyfriend was sitting beside her. So I’ve experienced all you’ve described. I had different friends, at different times, with whom it suited us to have a casual sexual relationship. I’ve also had my fair share of one night stands and short term relationships.

    The reason I’ve gone into such unwarranted detail is simple. As long as you take simple precautions there is nothing wrong with such behaviour. If there’s also an element of respect and/or friendship involved there’s also never a cause for embarrassment. No walks of shame needed! 

  • Oconnord

    On your second paragraph, I don’t see the problem as such. Of course any unwanted physical contact is wrong. But if all contact is consensual why should a modern person behave like a Victorian if they don’t wish to.

    That is a very fair point about pornography. Although I do think most men, and fewer women, would want to emulate those extreme acts. I do think you are correct though. I would guess, without any evidence to back my case, that those women insecure enough to “try to compete”, would also be vulnerable to things like domestic violence.

    Ultimately though pornography has been with us as long as recorded history. It’s just the medium that changes. 

    Thanks for the chuckle at the end of your comment. Of course you had no way of knowing, but I’m about 40. So I think you’d have to look at someone quite a bit older if they managed to shelter themselves from sex.

  • Oconnord

    Typo again… few men… not most men….. want to emulate extreme porn

  • Oconnord

    Hey, good Easter I hope.

    Not a gaping hole, not a chink either but not something I’d try to hide.

    I’ve known a few women who had abortions well enough to speak about it. And yes each one made a terrible and final judgement. But believe me, and I think we’ve crossed swords enough to know I wouldn’t lie on a subject like this. None thought it was a worthless life, or a mere inconvienience. 

    I think a woman that acted in such a way would be doing so out of pure bravado. I also think that they might be the ones who bitterly regret the decision later. 

    I think, in my very limited experience, the best way to describe their thoughts would be sad resignation. 

  • Agent Provocateur21

    Here are some clips of pro-death militants…

     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ek2gYGsTmGM

  • Agent Provocateur21

    Here are some clips of pro-death militants…

     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ek2gYGsTmGM

  • Ohio Reader

     @David: I suggest that you re-read all of my response–at the very bottom, in greyscale font, are the words, “in reply to adornoetal.” They were not in response to the article. As for my “nonsensical comment about men”, I mentioned predators, calling them the “worst sort of male.” That is not a blanket indictment of all men. I love good men. I am the daughter, the sister, the wife, and the mother of a bunch of good men. Many, many, many men are good. Many are not, just as there are many women who are not. There are also women who are predators. My point was that societal enabling of abortion hurts women more than it does men, and that the enabling of abortion is the same as the enabling of predators.

  • paulsays

    Difference of opinion should not lead people to hate each other. Pro-lifers and people who support abortion both believe that the side they support is the most moral.
    And both have been lead to their respective paths because of different reasoning. Both believe they are on a moral campaign, which in a way is really quite laudable.

  • http://www.atheist-community.com/ Zeke

    Ever read that “Judge not lest ye be Judged” thing in the Bible? I hear the guy who said that is a big deal to you…