Tony Gosgnach
The Interim
One of the world’s top researchers into life issues made a tour of southern Ontario recently, offering information and strategies to combat the anti-life agenda – a particularly timely topic, given the federal election campaign and the prominence given to abortion within it.

Dr. Brian Clowes included a Basic Pro-Life Training Workshop in Hamilton as part of his agenda, in addition to appearing on the Toronto-based Catholic Radio Program and making a speech at the Hamilton Right to Life annual dinner.

Clowes is an author, speaker and director of the Pro-Life/Pro-Family Institute at Human Life International in Front Royal, Va. Among his writings are the Pro-Life Activist’s Encyclopedia, Call to Action or Call to Apostasy? (on dissent within the Catholic church) and The Facts of Life, which is now in its second edition. He also walks the talk, so to speak, being the father of seven children.

In an interview, Clowes suggested that demographic trends are playing in pro-lifers’ favour. “The more victories the anti-life people have – the more they abort, sterilize and contracept themselves – the more they’re going to die out. The average (pro-abortionist) has 1.3 children, while the average pro-lifer has three or four. Each year in the U.S., pro-life sentiment becomes one per cent stronger. You can see the tremendous changes beginning to take place in the U.S. In Canada, the situation is much worse.”

He pointed to organization as being the key to winning the pro-life struggle against powerful, pro-abortion elites. “It takes a very small group of people (to) pray, organize, plan and expose … If you stand up, God will give you the way to knock these guys down. Despite being outnumbered 100 to one and outspent 1,000 to one, all you have to do is pour a little sand in the locomotive’s gas tank and it’s not going to go anywhere.”

“You have to focus on the one thing that’s going to stop them the most,” he added. “You focus on one pressure point – it will bring a 400-pound bodybuilder down like a tonne of bricks. These guys are big and powerful, but they’re very clumsy. They’re very conceited and think they can’t be beat … We’re small and maneuverable; they’re big, lumbering and have many weaknesses you can take advantage of. You have to be flexible – turn on a dime and change direction very quickly. A small, committed group can do practically anything.”

Clowes said the church and family have been particular targets in recent times because they are the only two elements that stand in the way of complete control by certain elites. “If you don’t oppose these people now, in 10 years, they’ll be knocking on your door … You’ll try to go to church, and the church will be closed down. The church is the only real powerful voice speaking against evil.”

At the pro-life training workshop, Clowes spent a day advising several dozen pro-life activists on the essentials of effective action.

He began by noting that it must be understood the battle over life is a war-like situation and must be approached with a state of mind focused on winning. As in any war, the enemy and his tactics must be identified, then a realistic and effective plan must be devised.

The foundations of Christian activism, said Clowes, rest on four “stones:” training, recruitment, information and prayer. Once these are taken care of, pro-life activists can set their sights on six concentrated sources of influence – the executive branches of the federal and provincial governments, the courts, the legislatures, associations (including medical and legal ones, foundations and public interest groups), the media, school leaderships – and two dispersed sources of influence: the church and the family.

Clowes went on to point out that there are six essential elements of effective planning – mission, focus, opposition, assets, environment and tactics. With these, activists can go on with 10 “offensive principles:” gather intelligence; achieve unification of purpose; exploit the opposition’s weaknesses; retain the initiative; specialize; communicate; be flexible; concentrate on a decisive time and place; exploit successes; and provide security for your people.

Clowes concluded the workshop with a session on successful pro-life debating. This involves a four-step process – learning the topic, practising debating skills with friends, debating with “abortophiles” and recording experiences while always learning.

He stressed the importance of learning the 40 most popular pro-abortion slogans – “A woman’s body, a woman’s choice! … Every child a wanted child!” etc. – with a view to being able to reply to any question and beating any pro-abortionist in a debate situation.

Clowes said that despite increased activism in recent years, the pro-life movement is still somewhat handicapped by an apathetic attitude among people who should be onside.

“People don’t know how bad things are and they don’t want to know,” he said. “It all comes down to, ‘How’s this going to affect me?’ But when someone comes knocking on their door at two in the morning, they’ll suddenly be motivated to do something. But it will be too late.”