Spiritual entrustment

A blessed copy of the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa of which St Luke the Evangelist is traditionally believed to be the artist, is coming to the UK as part of its pilgrimage at the start of next week. As James Preece said, what is happening here is incredible. For Catholics, pro-life work is never purely about either the political or the practical but must always incorporate the prayer.

We are not worshipping a piece of wood, but committing a spiritual act of entrustment, asking Our Lady, The Mother of God, to defend and protect the human civilisation of life and love. This particular icon is important because it is believed to pre-date back to Constantinople, before the schism of the Eastern Orthodox and Western Church and therefore like the Mother of God, belongs to both traditions, it unifies East and West. The Orthodox name for the icon is invincible victory and the hymn Victorious Queen is often sung in her honour. She is the patron of those who desire a restoration of national and family values. The director of the pilgrimage credits her with the fall of Communism in Poland.

The pilgrimage is supported by the Patriarch of Moscow who hopes that it will contribute to the protection of life and the strengthening of family values in a world where children and families are so often seen as obstacles to happiness and fulfilment. The pilgrimage originated in Vladisvostok Russia and will end in Fatima having travelled over 18,000 miles. There are plans afoot to continue the pilgrimage to the USA next year, another country desperately in need of renewal.

Though wary about attributing life’s misfortunes to the evil one, I have increasingly come to believe that those of us engaged in pro-life work, of whatever nature, do leave ourselves open to spiritual attacks. It is telling that during a year in which I gave birth to my fourth child in incredibly challenging circumstances, a year in which my husband discerned a continuing vocation and began seminary, a year in which I began to obtain a much wider media platform, both in print, online and on the television and radio, particularly in support of pro life and family values, we came under attack as never before. In particular in the periods surrounding every single media appearance or any big pregnancy milestone, various attempts were made to cripple not only me and my work, but also my family. The stated aim was to ensure that I was silenced and at times I thought that I may be close to nervous collapse, so intense and relentless was the pressure. I don’t know whether or not this was because, as suggested, I was ‘rattling the cages of hell’, but I’ll never forget a conversation with an experienced Catholic pro-life campaigner who was convinced that those who fight for the lives of the unborn, will be attacked and always, in her experience, through the family.

This was certainly my experience, many commented how they were surprised that I didn’t break down, but tellingly what healed me, not only mentally and physically but more importantly spiritually, was a pilgrimage to Lourdes when I was 36 weeks pregnant. I entrusted everything to Our Lady and it was though a veil lifted. Not only that but significantly my blood pressure reduced to the extent that I was advised to come off the medication and my blood tests inexplicably showed no trace of previous proteins or liver problems. Upon returning to England, I noted that the usual suspects had been creating their usual noise, significantly the abuse had begun to escalate whilst I was on route to Lourdes, it felt like a deliberate attempt to unsettle and disturb my peace of mind, and yet for the first time in months, I really didn’t care, I could see the agitators as pitiful creatures in need of urgent prayer and their words were like water off a duck’s back.

I digress, but my experience perfectly illustrates how important it is for us all, especially those who may be subject to spiritual attack, to continually entrust ourselves and our work to the Lord, via the intercession of His Mother. I see similar difficulties in the progress of the pilgrimage, which despite suffering several setbacks, is still continuing on its journey. Please support the pilgrimage, not only in prayer, but by attending and perhaps if possible by donating financially or organising a parish collection. At a time when the UK is facing the imposed redefinition of marriage, when children are being routinely fitted with contraceptive implants and groomed for early sexual activity and when the killing of the unborn and elderly are being promoted as a social good, we need to entrust the protection of life and family values to Our Lady more than ever. I am half expecting to see more obstacles and setbacks along the way – this pilgrimage will be the harbinger of much change and renewal, as has happened in Russia. The arrival in England, shortly after the start of the Year of Faith, could not be more providential.

Here is the page with the schedule of events in the UK. Instead of celebrating the death of an infamous Catholic on November 5th, why not participate in an infinitely more family friendly event at Westminster Cathedral and later light your sparklers to commemorate the Light of the World, brought into the world thanks to the openness to life of the Immaculate Conception, who continues to work her miracles today.

Holding the Baby?


Today was Theodora Mary Elizabeth Farrow’s baptism. She is now cleansed of Original Sin and is part of the Christian family. We had quite a low-key affair being less than two weeks away from moving house, but God willing there will be an enormous celebration at some point in the next eighteen months for all extended family and friends.

Just one wee question, to which I’d be grateful to know the answer. Why, in the New Rite of Baptism does the priest not hold the baby during the act of pouring the water over the baby’s head? Depending on the height of the font, potentially the baby can end up at something of a peculiar angle with the parent awkwardly holding squirming infant with their head pointed downwards, aimed in the general direction of the font almost like they are going to have a hairwash with all the blood rushing to their head.

Personally I’d like to see the priest take the baby in his arms whilst baptising. There is something very reassuring and symbolic about the priest, in personae Christi, cradling the baby in his arms and welcoming them into the bosom of Mother Church. Is it a Health and Safety initiative? Does the priest have to undergo risk management and need a certificate in baby cuddling or is there something symbolic I’ve missed? It would be a shame to have a generation of priests fearful of baby handling.

In the meantime Teddy’s missed her evening bath tonight as she still smells so delicious from the chrism oil. I never wash the babies after Baptism until all the oil has totally worn off, which won’t take too long at this rate as I keep sniffing her head!

Mourning into dancing

Joanna, Brian and Colin Perry

The Perry family from the US, have not been far from my thoughts and prayers since I stumbled across their Facebook update this morning.

And, it’s GO TIME! Jo is fully dilated and we are going to start pushing in about an hour. Going to read to Colin one last time in the womb… “The Giving Tree”.

We are READY to meet him. Excited does not even come close to what we feel. Thank you all for making us feel so loved and thank you for filling us up with prayer!

All our love,

The Perry’s

What an exciting and beautiful update – one would have to have a heart of stone to fail to feel just a glimmer of happiness at such a joyful announcement. A friend had clicked the like button and so ever curious and always overjoyed to hear about the births of new babies, I decided to have a mosey at their Facebook page and blog, whilst experiencing some vicarious mounting excitement and nervousness on behalf of the family.

Their story does not have the conventional happy ending. Their baby son Colin Patrick Perry, was diagnosed with anencephaly at 11 weeks gestation, part of his brain and skull was missing, the likely prognosis was that he would not survive beyond a few minutes.

Anencephaly is a rare neural tube defect that occurs in 1 out of every 1000 pregnancies. The neural tube at the head fails to close as usually happens between days 23 and 26 gestation, resulting in the major portion of the brain, head and scalp being missing. Babies are born without a forebrain which is responsible for co-ordination and thinking. The outcome is extremely poor – less than 5% of children live beyond 5 days, 7% die in utero, 17% during birth, 26% between 1 and 60 minutes and 27% between 1 and 5 days.

It’s one of those tragic conditions which the Abortion Act had in mind, 90% of anencephalic babies are aborted before birth and it is often quoted by proponents of abortion. I have to confess that the condition is the one that has provided the greatest challenge for me in terms of thinking about the ethics of abortion and balancing the wellbeing of the child against that of a mother. No-one should blame or vilify a mother who decided to go through a termination in those circumstances.

As I read how Jo and Brian had gone shopping to choose an outfit for their son to be buried in, how they had made arrangements for their priest to be present for the birth so Colin could be baptised, how they had prayed that he might not die instantaneously at birth in order that they might have the opportunity to let him feel how loved he was, I could not begin to imagine how it would feel to be in that situation, and I could only weep tears of sadness for them, but also gratitude as I held my beautiful 9 week old baby close. Thank God it was not me who was tested in this way. Would I be able to face the same trial with such good grace, courage and determination? Would I be able to endure 40 tough weeks of pregnancy and the trauma of giving birth, knowing that my baby would die shortly afterwards?

And then I realised that I was actually being terribly self-indulgent. There I was crying tears of sadness over something that was not only not happening to me, but was also very powerful and positive. Instead of bemoaning their situation, this beautiful and devoted young couple were taking every moment that they could to cherish the relationship and time that they had with their son, whilst they still could. Here is what Jo said last week:

So today I woke up and thought, today is my last Wednesday with Colin. It made me so sad to think that it would be the LAST Wednesday Colin would be growing inside me. By this time next week I will have an empty belly. I pray so hard every single day that Colin lives through the birth. I pray that we get time with him alive. What I ultimately pray for is that he is able to live a long life. If everything happens as statistics show none of these things will happen. So, today I tried very hard to be thankful for this last Wednesday with Colin. I am feeling very pregnant now a days, but consciously try not to complain. Today I am grateful to be pregnant, today I am thankful to have Colin alive inside of me. I want to fully appreciate these last few days I have with him. Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe in miracles. I believe Colin is capable of living a longer life than we expect. I believe God answers prayers and heals. I also don’t want to be naive and disregard all the information we have been given. I am as prepared as I can be to meet my son. I am also prepared (if anyone can really be prepared) to say goodbye. The love I have for Colin is beyond explanation. I’m sure any parent understands that. I will be forever thankful for him and how he changed me. Today I have my son! Today he is alive! Today Brian and I went shopping for an outfit to bury our son in. Today was HARD, but at least we had today with him and we tried to make the best out of today. I told Colin over and over again how much I love him. I told him how proud I am of him and how he is changing people. I told him how much I appreciate him and his love. No one knows if this was their last Wednesday with someone they love. Did you live today like it could be your last Wednesday? Did you appreciate the fact that you woke up and took a breath this Wednesday? Do the people you love know you love them today?

Now one can argue that Jo’s decision to carry Colin to term was her choice, one that should not be forced or imposed on others. Maybe so, but look at the joy and the positivity amongst the heartbreaking sadness. Abortion could not have been the right decision, even in this scenario, because Colin’s parents have taken the opportunity to really bond with their unborn son, to get to know him as best as they could, and to love him inside the uterus, no matter how brief his time outside would be. Ultimately they have the comfort of knowing that when he died, it was not a violent brutal death through their bidding at the cold hard steel of an abortionist’s instruments, but enveloped in his parents’ love, surrounded by love and prayer. Allowing Colin to be born and to die naturally, will have eased not only his suffering but theirs too, making the process of grief and healing so much gentler than the dissonance of knowing that one brought about one’s child’s death, even with the best of intentions.

The problem with moral theology in these testing situations, is that whilst it might provide us with the solution as to what should happen, it can seem lacking in compassion. If I had been in this situation and had someone parroting Aquinas at me, I think the Summa would have ended up where the sun don’t shine. Empathy must not lead us down morally dangerous paths, no matter how well intentioned, but it can go a long way to helping people to come to the right conclusions. If I were dealing with a woman in Jo’s situation, I would not be going all Magisterial on her, but helping her to see that carrying the baby to term, would be the best solution for her in the long-run, only dealing with the spiritual blessings and graces as appropriate.

Here are some more extracts from their diary. My usual loquaciousness fails me. I can’t comment beyond tears.

No ultrasound machine can show us how much love we share and we have to be very thankful the amount of time we have had together. We don’t know how much more time we have, but non of it should be wasted on what your head might look like. I know you are exactly how you’re supposed to be. I know you are beyond beautiful because you are a miracle. Your life has already touched so many. You’re only 35 weeks old and have touched more lives than Mommy and I’m 30! I love you so much Colin. Thank you for showing me what is important.

We would have never in a million years thought we would have to meet with a panel of people to talk about what organs we want to donate from our son. Our precious baby Colin. But, this is the hand we have been dealt. We don’t know exactly what God has in store for you but if he does decide to take you faster than we want we have to find a way to turn this crappy situation into something positive, something beyond ourselves. What better way to honor you? Daddy and Mommy are giving you a chance at life and now you will give others a chance at life! What an awesome dude you are! I am so proud to call you my son! I am so lucky to have been given the opportunity to carry you!

Here’s their latest update from Facebook:

October 24th, 2012 at 1:13am, Colin Patrick Perry was born and went to be with God. We are so proud of our son and love him beyond comprehension.

Thank you Joanna and Brian for your brave witness and your courage. This encapsulates the essence of parenthood for me – loving your child so much that you willingly and gratefully put yourself on the line for them, without counting the personal cost. This is what saying “yes” is all about. Mary was told that a sword would pierce her soul, she had to endure the pain of witnessing her son dying an excruciating death, but never lost her faith and trust in God.

One can see that already Joanna and Brian have allowed their suffering to transform them, to bring them closer to God and that untold blessings will emerge out of this tragedy, physically manifested in the new hope and life given to others through Colin’s organs.

Please don’t comment here, go to the Perry’s Facebook page or blog, thank them and tell them how awesome they are. (Unless you are one of the trolls, in which case fill your boots below in the usual fashion).

Colin Patrick Perry Resquiat in pace.

Caroline Lucas and the Common Good

I am exceptionally grateful to Laurence England for arranging a deputation of Catholic constituents of Caroline Lucas to meet with her and explain our opposition to same-sex marriage, as well as for including me amongst their number.

I don’t really have much to add to Laurence’s account of how the meeting went, though I don’t think we did much to change her views, we certainly appreciated the opportunity to present our case, and Caroline Lucas certainly came across as a very warm, honest and engaging MP, she did not dismiss our case, neither did she pretend to listen politely, but she actively participated and asked questions as appropriate. Of course one might argue that she was only doing her duty as an elected MP and representative of her constituents, but at least she was gracious and actually took the time to make it seem as if she was genuinely interested! It was a very different experience from when I met my former constituency MP, David Cameron, who was at first dismissive, then had a Damascene conversion once I opened my mouth and he discovered that I’d worked for various Investment banks and had a public school background.

One thing that was very positive about the meeting was that Caroline had an opportunity to see that we were not coming at this from a position of bigotry, we didn’t wish any harm upon the LGBT community and it was certainly helpful that we had at least two of our number who openly identified themselves as being gay or having same sex attraction. Caroline hearteningly said that she had been very supportive of Christina Summers, the Green Party councillor who has been expelled from the Green Party for her opposition to same-sex marriage and that she disagreed with the party’s decision to exclude her; though Caroline’s Green Party credentials are immaculate in this area, she finds it disappointing that someone should be ostracised on account of their sincerely held beliefs.

Of particular interest seemed to be the side-effects of this legislation which clearly David Cameron had not thought about in any depth before going full-steam ahead with his proposal. We explained how Christians and indeed people of all faiths who disagreed with the redefinition of marriage could be affected in the workplace and highlighted the comments of the attorney general, Dominic Grieve, who has hinted that profound philosophical difficulties lie ahead for religious workers in the public sector. Everyone will be expected to recognise the new definition of marriage under law, regardless of whether or not they agree with it.

Another factor was how the redefinition of marriage would necessitate a change in the Anglican prayer book, via an Act of Parliament. Though that may seem irrelevant to a group of Catholics, it would also be a significant step to disestablishment of the church and whatever one’s views on that issue might be, surely such a significant change should not come about as a side-effect of legislation, but should be debated on its own merits or lack thereof.

We also pointed out that the government’s guarantees that religious marriage would remain unaffected would be utterly worthless as there is no distinction in law between religious and civil marriage, therefore if the change comes about it will need to be available to everybody in the same way. Some religious organisations will be unable to solemnise same-sex marriages and the realities of the ECHR and the Human Rights Act will mean that these organisations will have to withdraw from providing marriages if they are not able to offer it to all couples, in the same way as happened with the Catholic Adoption agencies.

As Laurence said, the area that Caroline Lucas seemed most interested in, was that of democracy and the public appetite for change. After pointing out that none of the major parties, including her own had this in their election manifesto, it seemed that a major change was being brought forth which nobody had actively voted for. I mentioned the Catholic Voices Com Res poll, of which she was unaware, suggesting that a significant chunk, some 70% of the population are against redefining marriage as well as the fact that the gay community seem to be apathetic to the change. There is also a risk that those gay couples who choose not to marry but to be in civil partnerships will also be thought of as having second-class unions and face discrimination.

Laurence was particularly persuasive and incisive when Caroline quizzed him on the notion of what constituted the common good. She asked whether the Church could still claim its position was in the common good, that if the poll results were reversed, showing that 70% of people were in favour of the change, surely that could be considered the common good? Laurence used the comparison of pedophilia, which most people find abhorrent, other than Harriet Harman’s friends. Even if public opinion were to change regarding pedophilia or polygamy, legislating for it, would most certainly not be in the common good, regardless of people’s personal views. The common good is an entirely distinct concept to public opinion. We also asked why the state felt that it needed to legislate for people’s private relationships, the only reason that marriage is regulated by the state, is for one reason alone and that is because its main function is to provide children. We explained that as a Church we did not hold the rights to marriage – it is an institution outside of both Church and state.

I don’t think we will have changed her underlying views, however my hope is that we did give some food for thought and that in Caroline’s words, she could see that we were not against equality per se or wanting to degrade same sex couples, but had genuine concern as to the impact of any forthcoming changes in the law.

This for me, is what it means to be a Catholic Voice, not simply a talking head in the media who someone may or may not remember, but actually being pro-active and making sure that the case is coherently and articulately presented in the public square. We did not shy away from our faith, nor did we deny that it affects our conscience, but equally we were able to display that our concerns were not those of bigots who wished to do harm. I do hope and pray that Caroline has a conversion of heart and that our meeting did at least have some impact.

In the meantime, here’s the Janet and John version from the Coalition for Marriage.

Under Pressure

I incurred quite a bit of derision from the abortion lobby following my post last week, calling into question both the impartiality of Rachel Garrick and the events that she described as taking place outside the Marie Stopes clinic in Whitfield Street.

It turns out I was not quite so far off the mark after all. A brief look at Rachel’s timeline shows that far from being someone who “isn’t particularly drawn to the reproductive rights debate”, she had in fact been tweeting about the issue of abortion, long before the remarks from Maria Miller and Jeremy a few weeks ago. As vice-chair of Rochester and Strood Labour party, Rachel was openly volunteering to “woman” the Abortion Rights stand at the Labour party conference on October 1st and ensuring that a union leaflet in support of abortion was carried by the TUC and all affiliate unions. That’s all well and good, but obviously the claim that she wasn’t interested in the pro-life debate is rather disingenuous.

With regards to what actually happened, Good Counsel Network confirmed that the young woman and her boyfriend were feeling uncomfortable about the decision to abort, but felt that circumstances dictated that they had little other choice. They were just on the verge of going to the Good Counsel Centre for some real and practical support when Wonder Woman flew to the rescue and efficiently browbeat them into the clinic. Upon leaving the clinic the young woman CHOSE to speak to the volunteer outside; she was still very upset and felt under increasing pressure as the clinic told her that she had very little time to make a decision.

Odd that a woman should emerge from a non-directive counselling session feeling more under pressure than ever. Surely, if Wonder Woman was correct in her assessment that the alleged photographs being shown were of a much later gestation than the lady’s baby, then the lady wasn’t anywhere near the 24 week limit. Isn’t that why abortion supporters are advocating a limit far in advance of 12 weeks, in order to give women adequate time to decide? Of course without knowing how pregnant this lady was, one can’t make a judgement call, but it seems fair to assume she was early on, and yet still felt under pressure to make a quick decision. Also note, that the lady says that the specific support that she needs, is NOT on offer from Marie Stopes.

It certainly calls into question the non-directive nature of the counselling offered by the abortion clinics. A pregnant woman emerges distressed and feeling that she has very little time to make her choice, when, even if she was 12 weeks, she still technically has plenty of time under the law. The other thing worth emphasising here, is that Marie Stopes charges £5 for the pregnancy test and £80 for the consultation. If you can only get a weekend appointment that’ll set you back an extra £40. Well they are not a charity, you know. Oh. Wait…

Still, none of this gives me any pleasure. It’s not an “I told you so”. Ultimately there’s a vulnerable pregnant young woman out there and hundreds like her, going into abortion clinics feeling like they have little other choice and being put under pressure to make hasty decisions. And those organisations who are trying to help them, who are reaching out, offering nothing but unconditional non-judgemental support and help are under not only financial pressure (Good Counsel are currently supporting over 30 mothers) but are subjected to hate campaigns and attempted vexatious litigation and complaints in an attempt to get them off the streets and cut women off from sources of help. In the meantime the abortion industry is funded by the government to the tune of millions of pounds every year, whereas Good Counsel and others rely solely on the generosity of individuals and unlike the clinics offer all their services gratis.

It really is time that a public consultation was held surrounding the abortion industry. Let those who say that they support choice, allow women with unplanned pregnancies the choice of accessing pro-life counselling support. Women aren’t stupid, they know that a clinic will be geared towards abortion, BPAS have thrown away all attempts at impartiality by advertising abortion, women know that a pro-life organisation will give them options that will steer them towards keeping the baby, why should they be denied access to this?

And let’s hope that future feministas to the rescue think twice before flying in to save the day and making things a whole lot worse for vulnerable woman in need of information surrounding all available options.

Sauce for the goose

Neil Addison has just contacted me with the following email which he has sent to BPAS for clarification. Given that the abortion clinics have threatened the pro-life outreach workers who operate outside Marie Stopes with referral to the ASA, despite the fact that they are not actually advertising, then it seems only fair to hold them accountable with the same standards that they wish to impose on others. I’ve added in the UK stats in green.

Dear Sirs 

I refer to your Advertisement at http://www.bpas.org/nomorenames/ and the Statistics quoted therein namely

  • One in three women will have an abortion in her reproductive lifetime.
  • More than half of women who have abortions are already mothers. (The UK stats state that in 2011, 51% of women who had abortions, had one or more previous pregnancies that had resulted in a live or still birth, up from 47% in the previous year. So that’s technically over half, but does that equate to 51% of women already being mothers? What about those who aborted following a stillbirth for example).
  • Last year, there were nearly twice as many abortions to women over 35 than under 18. (Nearly being the operative word. Last year, 14,599 women under 18 had abortions, compared to 27,199 women over 35. That’s 8% of  abortions performed for women under 18, compared to 14%  for women over 35. Still statistics can be spun any way you like. It might contextualise this figure better to learn that 15 out of every 1,000 women under 18 had an abortion in 2011, compared to 6.9 women out of every 1,000 over 35. So proportionately more women in the under 18 age cohort are having abortions than those in the over 35 cohort. BPAS are spinning the data to suit their message)

Can you please provide me with the sources for these statistics in particular what study they are based upon, whether it is a study in the UK or elsewhere and the statistical analysis upon which the figures are based.

Do you ” hold documentary evidence to prove your claims” and are they capable of “objective substantiation” as required by the Advertising Standards Authority ? 

I look forward to receiving your reply


Neil Addison (Barrister)

We await the response with eagerness. If BPAS are unable to substantiate their one in three claim, then their campaign will need to be modified and referenced.

Report BPAS to the ASA

BPAS have been accused of exploiting the recent abortion limit controversy by launching a new pro-choice campaign, to be featured on billboards and in bus shelters around the country, called No More Names. 

The campaign raises a number of issues, such as whether or not an organisation which receives £25 million a year, most of which is received from the taxpayer for providing abortions on the NHS (93% of its work is NHS funded) should in fact be advertising to normalise and promote as a good, what is for very many people, a last-ditch enormously tragic procedure.

Of primary concern is the dubious claim that one in three women will have an abortion in their reproductive lifetime, abortion is therefore a necessary medical procedure and women should not be stigmatised or called names for having one. No-one is arguing that women who have abortions should be stigmatised and neither is there any evidence to suggest that any marginalisation does take place; despite claims to the contrary, none of the groups who conduct clinic vigils in the UK, either 40 days for life or Abort 67 are in the business of shouting or name-calling of women entering the clinic. There are there to help and offer alternative solutions, not to alienate and abuse women who they recognise are often in a very difficult position. No Christian with a shred of spiritual conscience,  intellectual honesty or emotional intelligence would so abuse a post-abortive woman in such a way, the default position is always one of compassion and sympathy for all involved, we know that these situations are not always easy and for many their decision has come about for a variety of reasons.

So if there is no discernible name-calling, then the entire point of this campaign is to normalise and promote abortion, which is always an ethical choice, as a necessary medical procedure, which most women will need to undergo in their lifetime. This is demonstrably false. Last year no abortions were performed under grounds F and G, i.e. in the case of an emergency to save the life of the pregnant woman or to prevent grave permanent injury to her physical or mental health. 102 out of 189,931 abortions last year were performed under ground B, which is deemed necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman. No abortions were performed solely to save the life of a woman – ground A. The 45 abortions that fell into this category, were combined with other grounds such as the most common one, ground C, which gives the most flexibility. If we then factor in the findings of a recent maternal health symposium in Dublin which ruled that direct abortion is never medically necessary to save the life of a mother, this idea of abortion being necessary, looks increasingly shaky.

If abortion is a medical necessity, then why does it need to be advertised on billboards, hoardings and in bus-shelters alongside consumer products as if it is a lifestyle choice? It rather makes a mockery of the attempted perjorative “anti-choice” label? Are these adverts, which seek to promote abortion as well as brand awareness of a major abortion provider, suitable for children and teens, who are being sold a message that abortion is a necessary and desirable procedure?

The advert itself could be construed as pro-life, featuring a photo of a beautiful baby. The agency either missed the irony of putting a photograph of a baby on a clinic that provides abortions and suggests that we should call women who have had abortions, “mother”, or more disturbingly, wants to present an idealised stylised image of motherhood in the same way as any company wishing to sell you a product to make you buy into an image or vision. In this case we have a picture of a beautiful young model and her baby. The message is clear, unless you are in a position to have the perfect yummy mummy lifestyle with the beautiful blond haired blue eyed angelic looking baby, then abortion is the answer. Abortion advocates have switched to using worrying new tactics – unless you can live a sepia-toned, airbrushed vision of motherhood, the kind of lifestyle promoted by manufacturers of baby products and magazines, then you should not be having children. It is not life that matters, but presumed quality of life and nothing less than a sanitised, white teeth and baby-Boden vision will do. If you can’t live the yummy mummy dream, then you should not be having children.

The choice of models is equally telling, they are all middle-class, and bar one, all young and white. Abortion is obviously the choice of the young beautiful white people, whereas the statistics tell us a very different story. 49% of women who had repeat abortions in 2011, were Black or Black British, 45% were mixed race, 33% were Chinese or another group and 32% were Asian or Asian British. Statistically speaking it is not the white middle classes who are having to resort to abortion, which begs the question why the advert does not reflect this, unless of course they are seeking to extend their client base, hence the unrepresentative models.

The crux of the advert, is the claim that one in three women will have an abortion. I previously wrote about who the one in three women are, but I’ve been doing some digging as to the basis of this statistic, which has been provided by the Guttmacher Institute, the research body funded by Planned Parenthood, America’s biggest abortion provider. BPAS provide no breakdown or statistical analysis of how they have produced this figure, other than it has come from the Guttmacher Institute.

The Guttmacher’s figures relate solely to the American population, so is it statistically correct to extrapolate this to the situation to the UK? Secondly the figure appears to be some sort of straight averaging, which is again misleading. A woman who has had multiple abortions (36% of abortions carried out in the UK IN 2011 were repeats) is going to skew the figures. Furthermore it seems that abortion is defined in these statistics as a Dilatation and Curettage (D&C), which is not strictly used for abortion. Many women require a D&C post natural miscarriage, or in my case, following the birth of my first child, therefore it is inaccurate to include D&C procedures within abortion statistics. Perhaps a third of women will require a D&C at some point in their reproductive life, but that is not the same as a third of all women requiring abortion.

The Advertising Codes laid down by the ASA state that advertisements must not mislead or offend. The BPAS advert definitely falls into the former category and for a significant majority of the population, the latter. It misleads as to the number of people who have an abortion, the type of people who have an abortion, provides no statistics to back up any of it claims, either in terms of the amount of women who have abortions or the perceived stigmatising of post-abortive women. It is offensive in that it portrays an ethical decision which results in the destruction of an unborn child and often severe trauma to the mother, as being a medical necessity and/or a consumer choice. The complaint form is here. 

Women who have abortions are mothers, sisters, friends. They all deserve better.