Having visited England regularly as an expatriate over the past 25 years, I had gained the impression that pro-life activities and initiatives were lagging far behind those in the U.S. and Canada. I discovered that I was mistaken when I attended the LIFE International Conference n Leicester, last November.
The level of knowledge and competence is extremely high and the dedication and commitment by the ‘chosen few’ equal or exceed our own.
They have one decided advantage in that they enjoy an empathetic, relationship with the media not afforded North American pro-lifers. I suspect that this comes from the innately British characteristic of ‘playing fair,’ but it is also likely to come from the fact that LIFE is seen as being supportive of the hapless pregnant mother. Whereas, on this continent, pro-lifers are portrayed as confrontational and obstructionist, a viewpoint routinely emphasized by the feminist-inspired media. Another observation: While feminism is alive and well in Britain, it does not appear to hold the same degree of radicalism experience on this side of the Atlantic. Possibly again, the sense of fair play is at work.
The purpose of LIFE
LIFE is an international organization which combines, very successfully, both the service and the educational arms of the pro-life movement. They have also succeeded in establishing an enviable rapport with the media, since they have demonstrated to them that they are willing to ‘put their money where their mouth is’ by providing homes and hostels for those women who might otherwise abort their babies.
This initiative has also given them relatively welcome access to schools, colleges and institutions to promote the pro-life message. In one workshop, I heard dozens of ‘success stories’ about invitations to speak to the students at many of the prestigious schools, including Eton and Harrow, from whose ranks come future ‘intelligentsia’ of the country.
The thrust of the conference appeared to me to be a review of the successes and failures of this strategy, an exploration of possibilities for developing further homes and centres in other European countries, and examining ways and means to expand their educational work, getting the message out that abortion kills babies and damages their mothers.’ While there was considerable representation not only from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, delegates from many European countries were numerous: from Latvia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Norway and last, but least, Canada!
I had been invited to participate in an international forum on the Saturday morning, but due to the number of speakers, I was curtailed to a mere 20 minutes, instead of getting the whole hour and a half! (The sigh of relief was heard in Glasgow!)
I was, however, extremely flattered to be pursued by a steady stream of delegates who wanted to get as much information as possible about our tactics and strategies and which had been the most successful. Lengthy discussions were held on the viability of such initiatives as Rescues, Life Chains, picketing of abortionists, the support for new political parties, etc.
Regarding euthanasia, the level of awareness of the dangers of this newly-emerging evil in contemporary society was, to say the least, impressive. One young lady gave an hour-long dissertation on the issue that was among the most comprehensive and exhaustive that I have heard. Yet, her level of expertise was exhibited, time and again, by the presenters at other workshops.
What did I learn from this conference? Possibly that we have to be continually monitoring our successes and failures, and always be willing to admit that there may be need for much greater unity between the various ‘arms’ of the pro-life movement, both here and in the British Isles. I see, too, the need to dialogue with pro-life leaders from other countries so that this fight for life becomes global in both perspective and fact.
As I stood in the hotel foyer at the conclusion of the conference, saying my farewells to the many wonderful people who had made me feel so welcome, I formed my last indelible impression. I looked around at the hundreds of highly educated, intellectual and sophisticated pro-lifers, all sincere and committed people, and thought, “With people like these, and God on our side, the battle will be won.”
I feel the same thoughts whenever I think of the pro-life army in Canada and the United States. We can hold our heads up high as we thank Him for giving us the privilege to fight for life. Deo Gratias.
No discussion permitted
Ontario’s abortion report ready to be implemented
The province is going to “work quickly” to put in place recommendations which call for greater access to abortion, a Ministry of Health official told The Interim.
“The Minister (Frances Lankin) overall is very pleased with the recommendations,” said Michael Harding, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health.
The report, drafted by a group of “abortion providers,” calls for measures to end “harassment” and suggests ways for greater access across the province. Many of the provisions in the report will never reach public debate but will be put into action directly through an implementation committee.
The entire “consultation process” which lasted over a year cost the province $20,300.
Harding admitted the Ministry of Health has no idea yet how much the recommendation would cost the province. Lankin and her health officials are already sensitive to criticism about the province shutting down everything from psychiatric wards to long-term nursing beds.
The ministry will have no idea of costs until “the implementation committee looks at the report. A lot of the things are relatively straight-forward to implement,” he observed.
Part of the government action will be a quick response to a report due this month from the six District Health Councils in Eastern Ontario on access to abortion in their area.
Harding said the government isn’t worried about the fact the report was drafted by people with such an obviously vested interest in the abortion industry.
“All were people involved in the provision of abortion services. The issue is not whether abortion services should be legal or not. “He said the issue has already been decided in the government’s mind.
Many in the pro-life movement have objected to the make-up of the committee which authored the report. Campaign Life Coalition president Jim Hughes compared it to “asking the National Rifle Association to recommendation on gun control.”
The report urges public injunctions and laws against pro-lifers, and Harding said the government doesn’t consider this contrary to the free expression of its constituents.
“One of the areas we’re going to work quickly on is the issue of harassment,” he said.
He said alternatives to abortion are “always a consideration” but was vague on specifics. He suggested it was something which would be dealt with by different ministries.
……….meanwhile across the border
U.S. Supreme Court says carry on picketing
U.S. federal law cannot be used against peaceful pro-life activities, the American Supreme Court decided Jan. 13.
The decision was made in response to charges by the National Organization for Women (NOW) against two people who planned to blockade an abortion clinic in Alexandria Virginia. A federal judge had ordered that the couple not block the clinic.
The Supreme Court decided, however, that the federal judge didn’t have the power to intervene in the incident.
NOW, which is strongly pro-abortion, was using an 1871 federal law known as the Anti-Ku Klux Klan Act to keep the pro-lifers away. The law was originally passed so that freed slaves would be able to vote in peace. It had been used in the 1960 to protect civil rights protesters. This time it was to be used against people trying to intervene for the civil-rights of the unborn.
Justice Antonin Scalia was author of the decision.
“Whatever one thinks of abortion,” he said, “it cannot be denied that there are common and respectable reasons for opposing it, other than hatred of or condescension toward… women as a class, as is evident from the fact that men and women are on both sides of the issue.”
An important part of the decision rejects the argument by NOW that blocking clinics constitutes sex discrimination.
“Pro-abortionists insult millions of pro-life women by saying that efforts to protect unborn children are a form of sex discrimination,” said Wanda Franz, president of the National Right to Life Committee. “The Supreme Court has correctly rejected that outrageous argument.”