Brighton is a resort city on the south coast of England, a kind of Atlantic City with fish and chips. It is also the site of the largest abortuary in Britain, attracting many “clients” from the Continent a short distance across the Channel. It also has an up-to-date conference hall.
From July 12 to 15 of this year, the International Congress for the Family made Brighton its venue. Princess Diana opened the Congress, along with the Home Secretary; several thousand people from around the world attended. Mother Teresa of Calcutta was scheduled to be there but was prevented by illness.
Our group of pro-life rescuers, also international in nature, decided to attend the Congress in Brighton to help the family (in our own small way) by rescuing its smallest and vulnerable members – the unborn – from certain death. Rescuers came from many countries – England, France, Norway, Scotland, Canada, Ireland and the United States. Rescuers from Holland and the Philippines would have been there, but missed connections. All told, 25 pro-lifers took part in the Brighton Rescue.
Wiston Abortion Clinic
On Friday morning, July 13, rescuers made their way to Chatsworth Road, the site of the Wiston Abortion Clinic. We arrived early, before the clients and staff came. The clinic building and car park were surrounded by a brick wall with two openings, a driveway from the street and a footpath. With our limited number we could only block these; so we stood there, arms linked.
When the staff arrived a short time later, they did not content themselves with simply hurling abuse as usual, but attempted to force their way past us physically. On three occasions, they tried to drive cars through the line of people blocking the driveway. The police then forced them to back up and drive away, thus preventing serious injuries.
Eventually the police took over the job of pushing and knocking us away from the entrances so the staff could go in. they did this about half a dozen times. Growing tired of this, they told us to stand aside or face arrest. We declined and the arrests began.
We were dragged across the street, shoved into police vans and taken a mile or so to the local jail. The police charged us with “obstruction of a highway” and we were held overnight in cells. At noon the next day we were brought before the Magistrate Court. All charges were dropped but we were bound over “to keep the peace” for one year or forfeit one hundred pounds.
Interestingly enough, the court order stated we were to keep the peace for all “including the unborn child.” We had no problem making such a promise, since this is what our rescues do. The Magistrates also ordered us to pay ten pound court costs. We refused – but they released us anyways.
We returned to Brighton for the final day of the Conference. We spoke to many people who were aware of our rescue the day before. They had seen it on television and read about it in the newspapers. No one had any adverse feelings about it – quite the contrary. Perhaps pro-life rescues will become a regular feature of International Family Congresses in the future.
The 12 people arrested were: Vincent Grimer and Edward Atkinson of England; Joe Wall and John Donlon of the United States; Pascal Billart, Agnes De Belinay, Marian Bordreval, all of France; Kathie O’Keefe and Kathy O’Connell, Americans resident in Britain; and Michael O’Connor, Christine and Frances Lynch, all of Ireland.