Abolition and abortion: Part 1 – fetishisation and blazons

Unsurprisingly a natural sympathy exists between the Abolition Movement and pro-life politics, both being concerned with gross violations of the most basic of human rights and the barbaric treatment meted out to our fellow humans. Much of the rhetoric employed by the pro-life lobby overtly draws parallels between the two movements. In this interview Andy Stephenson of Abort 67, describes how many women don’t like the analogy of the slave-trade with abortion, as they don’t like to be compared with slave-owners, but as Andy explains, it is not the individual woman who is being compared with the slave-masters, but the abortion industry as a whole, which seeks to overpower and exploit vulnerable human beings as commodities to be extinguished at will. Even Ann Furedi, Chief Executive of BPAS admits that a young embryo is a human life.

Not only is the analogy correct, but there are also similarities in terms of the tactics of the two lobbies. The abolition movement fetishised the black body in order to emphasise the common humanity between people of all nationalities in way that appears racist and bordering on the obscene to postmodern eyes.

White perceptions associated sexuality with the uncivilised woman, as William Blake’s engraving for John Stedman’s 1795 polemic demonstrates.

Blake's anti-slavery engraving
William Blake’s anti-slavery engraving

Whilst the engraving was meant to highlight the barbarity and look of pain as the woman was severely punished, it also did much to whet appetites and reinforce negative racial stereotypes back in Blighty.

Josiah Wedgewood’s evocative anti-slavery icon made a blazon out of the enchained black male form, which soon became de-rigeur on pendants or brooches of the upper and middle-classes, no self-respecting salon or gathering was complete without a symbol of awareness of what was the burning issue of the day.

slavery1

The same fetishisation is apparent in the pro-life movement. We too are not averse to making a blazon of the human form.

The iconic baby in the womb
The iconic baby in the womb

A quick click on Abort67’s website will display painful and distressing images similar to Blake’s portrayals of man’s inhumanity to man. SPUC’s tiny feet badges, an essential addition to the lapels of all Catholic clergy and laity, are today’s equivalent of Wedgewood’s medallions.

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This fetishisation is not necessarily a bad thing, but perhaps the lesson we can learn from the abolitionists is that of thoughtfulness. Whilst Wedgewood and Blake could not predict how future generations would interpret their portrayals, a note of caution needs to be struck. Visual reminders of the humanity of the unborn child are useful, but fetishisation is a form of objectification, we need to remember that though the portrayals of the unborn child in utero are always breathtakingly beautiful, the reason why is because this is human life in all its inspirational and awesome majesty. Christians will be reminded of the Incarnation, of how Christ humbled himself to become like us, this is the state that He once took, but we need to be wary of falling into the saccharine, ‘cute ickle baby’ trap, no matter how undeniably gorgeous the image. We don’t love each other or our children on looks alone, but because of who we are, because of that bond of common humanity, which we should nurture, respect and cherish regardless of whether one is a babbling newborn. And it is precisely this humanity, this solidarity that we have with all other human beings, that transcends barriers of age, social class, gender, race and creed that makes fetishisation so dangerous. The blastocyst is no less worthy of respect and yet it doesn’t easily lend itself to the pro-life cause, public imagination is not caught by the image of a cluster of mistreated and sometimes experimental cells, even though every single human being alive on this planet once had the identical physical form. We are not mere objects to be used in a utilitarian way, but people with our own unique destiny.

This is just what I looked like when I was 3 days old. Such a looker!
This is just what I looked like when I was 3 days old. Such a looker!

And of course, this is one of the difficulties of using images of aborted babies, although they can prove extremely useful. (This thoughtful non graphic article on the priests4life website that deals with graphic images is one of the best I’ve seen and closely reflects my own position). It takes wilful ignorance, sophistry and blindness to declare that the horrific photographs of the 24 week aborted baby was merely a lump of tissue. It’s also been extremely illuminating watching a friend attempt to pin down various hardcore Irish abortion activists who admit that even they are not happy with the concept of late-stage abortion, as to what stage they feel abortion would be acceptable. An answer has not yet been forthcoming.

Abort 67 are following in the footsteps of the abolitionists by trying to visually demonstrate the truth that is abortion. It’s a tactic that many have misgivings over, but the parallels are demonstrable.

This image was in no way scientifically accurate or precise in its depiction, but its shock value was seminal in terms of changing the hearts and minds of the public and highlighting the cramped conditions on board a slave transportation ship.

SlaveShipBrookes

So why are today’s sharply precise medical images not having the same impact? One answer is de-sensitisation. We are bombarded with increasingly graphic images on a daily basis, perhaps we are becoming inured? If that were really the case, then the graphic images would not cause so much fury, although I do believe that due to advances in ultrasound technology, there is an increasing widespread awareness and acceptance of the humanity of the unborn. For all the talk about science, abortion remains an issue of ethics or rights for its defenders. Abortion is centred solely around a woman’s rights to choose, any thing else is obsfucation. Images of early-stage humanity cut no ice with those who are determined that the unborn must not get in the way of a woman’s chosen path. Which is why we see so much pent-up anger, rage and aggression, because so many of them know that their position is ethically, not to mention scientifically, dubious.

But I can’t help but wonder, given how entrenched abortion is, whether it’s time for a new tactic or slogan especially for those involved in ministry outside the abortion clinics? The medical and sometimes gruesome images should not always be avoided, (especially when lobbying politicians) but instead used with discretion. What are we in pro-life all about trying to achieve? A pro-life society that welcomes, accepts and embraces motherhood as being positive and a gift, for mother and child and society as a whole. I wonder whether or not it’s time for more carrot and less stick? Something that sends the right message, but is also overwhelmingly upbeat, bright and cheerful, showing precisely what is a stake, as well as presenting a positive and aspirational vision.

It certainly seems to have worked well in Ireland. Accusations of fetishisation can be levelled at any photo. But in this case we are envisaging the future, the potential, the joy instead of worshiping and making a blazon of a very specific bodily stage in all of our human journey.

Love them Both

Part 2 to follow

Too close for comfort

depressed_woman_c-200x200

I have a confession to make. In tweeting up a storm about the media blackout surrounding the trial of Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortionist who reportedly snipped the spines and cut the throats of babies born alive following late term abortions, I was actually being very hypocritical. I knew about this story some time ago, having seen it mentioned by US pro-lifers as well as reading about it last month in the Daily Mail and yet refrained from writing about it and raising awareness.

I’ll forgo the false modesty, I know that this blog is, on the whole, highly regarded in pro-life terms, I also know it is referred to by pro-choice advocates and activists and read by BPAS, Marie Stopes and, according to my stats, IP addresses that emanate from inside the Houses of Parliament. Over the last year, it’s become increasingly apparent that I do have a platform, which I need to remember to use wisely.

So why did I neglect to do my bit here?

1) I was scared. Last year when all the bullying nonsense was occurring, a certain tweeter was repeatedly (and falsely) claiming that I was a member of Abort 67, “an extremist, a bad egg, a fake pro-lifer who doesn’t care, who must be flushed out of the pro life movement”.

I’m not a member of Abort 67, but I’m not ashamed to state that I have enormous respect and admiration for their courage and what they are trying to achieve. Andy Stephenson doesn’t just sit about writing polemic on the Internet or chew the philosophical fat in smokey pubs, but he dedicates his entire life to trying to show people the horrors of abortion, at times risking his own personal safety and even his liberty, when he was subject to an illiberal and misguided prosecution.

Whilst I might have some reservations about the tactics of showing images outside an abortion clinic, actually I have no problem with the way Abort 67 try to reach University students on campus or lobby politically, such as outside the Houses of Parliament or at Speaker’s Corner. But I was worried that by talking about the grisly horrors of Gosnell, and the pickled human feet found in storage jars or dead babies in the freezer, I might be perceived as a sensationalist or extremist. The only coverage I’d seen was in the Daily Mail, a publication that garners much deserved disdain at times, I hadn’t read the Grand Jury report and was concerned that I would be accused of scare-mongering or spreading inaccuracies. A major tactic of pro-choicers (as I will demonstrate in a subsequent post) is to attempt to bamboozle with science and stats, nit-picking to the umpteenth degree and attempting to use semantics, in order that they can scream “liar”. I didn’t want to put my reputation on the line, or be seen to be posting graphic photos or perceived to be revelling in gore.

2) The other reason and perhaps most importantly, was that I didn’t want to think about what had gone on in Gosnell’s abattoir or engage with it. I’d read the reports and recoiled with horror. It was literally unbearable and had the capacity to drive me mad. No doubt the pop psychologists and misogynists will liberally apply the ‘hysterical’ label, but stories regarding the twisted and bloodied corpses of murdered babies, are too close to home for a woman who has had three babies in the space of as many years.

I saw the photograph of one of Gosnell’s victims which appeared without a prior warning, in yesterday’s Atlantic and had a meltdown. The photo depicted a beautiful baby girl, with a full head of black hair, all her features perfectly formed, bizarrely, her umbilical cord had been cut and clamped, and she bore a startling and uncanny resemblance to my youngest baby daughter, and in fact all of my children who were born with lustrous heads of hair and tiny delicate little features. Except she was lying there, lifeless, motionless, dead and cold, having been mercilessly killed by Grosnell, shortly after her cord was cut and clamped and she was breathing. She would never again twitch, her hands wouldn’t uncurl, her limbs wouldn’t fling out in the startle reflex, her mouth would never root around for the comfort of a nipple or teat, she would never have known the comfort of her mother’s, or any human arms, her life consisted of being prematurely forced out of her mother’s womb, then disorientated and distressed from birth, longing for warmth and food, she was brutally murdered and left like a piece of rubbish on the cold hard slab of the abortionist’s table.

It was like looking a photograph of my own babies, particularly my youngest who was born early, weighing 5lbs, less than one of the little boys who was killed, and whom Gosnell jokingly referred to as being big enough to walk to the bus stop. Like this baby, my own baby was tiny, with fragile spindly limbs and swamped by the smallest size nappy. Even the colour of the clip on the umbilicus was the same.

I broke down. There were no words. I usually grab snatches of Twitter or the net on my phone or tablet, often whilst cooking, and the initial response was like being hit in the stomach. I curled up in the foetal position on the floor by the fridge in floods of tears, completely unable to process either the image or my response to what had happened. There was a mixture of overwhelming grief, sadness, anger and despair. I wanted to kick the living daylights out of this man and anyone who may have aided or abetted him in any way. That feeling still hasn’t dissipated, nor have the questions – namely, how on earth could the people working in the clinic have brought themselves to do this, what made them so damaged as individuals that they were able to justify and disassociate themselves from their actions? How could they have become so desensitised to what was going on? What kind of society are we living in when we can allow this to happen and where most people are happy that the media do not report it?

Yesterday was a concrete manifestation of why I had deliberately avoided engaging with this and so writing about it. Because I didn’t have the courage, it was too close to home and I didn’t think I had the emotional resources to cope. I had a very disturbed night’s sleep last night and I still am struggling to rid my mind of those dreadful images as well as deal with the emotions they invoke, which make me want to do terrible things, tear my hair and clutch my head in horror. Whenever I read about dreadful cases of child abuse or murder which crop up depressingly frequently in our national press, it churns me up inside. I cannot envisage what might motivate a person to do such odious things to a little child, and it terrifies me that people can often lose control in such a way that they inflict and violate little children with acts of sickening violence and depravity. Any parent who denies having the odd flash of anger, is either a genuine saint, or lying to themselves, all of us occasionally, at the end of our tether, might speak a little more harshly to our children than we should, but what is that forces a person to cross that line and inflict acts of utter sadism? And the worst most harrowing thing, is imagining the terror and pain experienced by these little ones. Imagining their trusting little faces and lack of comprehension and fear as they are repeatedly battered or worse.

I can’t stop myself imagining the brief painful lives of these little babies, treated as human waste, what they must have gone through, and also the agonies endured by the women, many of whom suffered life changing injuries, permanent infertility, infections and two of whom died. No matter how opposed one is to abortion, we shouldn’t forget the ordeals suffered by the women, most of whom were vulnerable, either by virtue of age, or socio-economic circumstance. No woman would chose to give birth to a live baby to have him or her murdered in front of her eyes. Most women have no idea of what is entailed in a late-stage abortion until it is too late, and I would wager most women going for an abortion have no idea of what to expect, everything is couched in such vague clinical terminology involving ‘products of conception’.

I eschewed writing about Gosnell, because I didn’t want to have to process this emotionally, or deal with the horror, the images or the reaction that they would invoke. Much easier to stick one’s fingers in one’s ears and pretend that it doesn’t happen, or that this is simply an one-off aberration and not think about tiny bodies beheaded and contorted in pain, or women giving birth amongst animal faeces, with filthy tubing used for both inter uterine suction and breathing purposes and freezers and storage jars full of neonates or neonatal body parts.

I suspect that’s one of the reasons for the media blackout. Some things are just too repugnant to bear. We often read about sadistic crimes, such as those of cannibal killers, for example, or serial murders, with a sense of detachment, we can look at these monsters clinically and though be disturbed by their crimes, have a sense that these sorts of crimes are relatively rare and won’t happen to us. With Kermit Gosnell it’s different, in that he and his staff genuinely didn’t seem to have any awareness that what they were doing was in any way immoral and neither did anyone seem to wish to report it. These atrocities occurred at a state licensed abortion facility, which went un-inspected for 17 years due to the pro-choice policy of the Republican Governor of Philedelphia, Tom Ridge. This wasn’t something that just happened to people who had an unfortunate encounter or mixed with the wrong sort. This was something that happened to women who exercised their free and legal choice in one of the most developed and civilised countries in the world. This is what abortion entails. The wilful destruction of innocent human life, depriving babies of their basic right to life in an act of brutal violence, whether inside or outside of the womb. Every single member of humanity, every single person reading this post, has something in common with Gosnell’s victims, we all began the same way, we were all blastocysts, developing embryos and unborn babies too. We all went through those same stages of life, only we escaped the abortionist’s instruments because we were the lucky ones.

And like the media, and like those who knew but didn’t think to report, I sat on this story too, for my own selfish reasons, born out of fear. It once again proves Burke’s adage – all that requires for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.

More harm than good?

The Catholic Herald has re-opened the debate on the use of graphic imagery outside abortion clinics, in the wake of the acquittal of Andy Stephenson and Kathryn Sloane of Abort 67, who had been accused of breaching Section 5 of the Public Order Act.

The verdict was undoubtedly the correct one, whatever one thinks of the display of graphic imagery outside an abortion clinic, what is clear is that the behaviour of those from Abort 67 did not amount to harassment or threats; protestors stand quietly and tirelessly for hours on end alongside their banners, making no approach to women, passers-by or entrants of the clinic, only engaging if they are directly approached.

There is something of a tendency for some members of the pro-life camp to intellectually hold their nose at the stench of bad publicity that invariably emanates from clinic vigils, publicity that does nothing in terms of attempting to find common ground and thus win the hearts and minds of those who would currently term themselves pro-choice. Whatever one thinks of the Abort 67 campaign and tactics, there is no getting away from the fact that Andy, Kathryn and Angela from Abort 67 are all pro-life heroes. How many who call themselves pro-life are willing to put themselves out there on the line, 24/7 for five years, in all weathers, being prepared to risk abuse, fines and imprisonment for the cause of the unborn? It’s one thing to say that one is pro-life, quite another to BE pro-life – fine words butter no parsnips!

Like them or loathe them, Abort 67 have done much to highlight and yes, educate, members of the public as to the realities of abortion. Robert Wyatt, one of the witnesses for the prosecution, who claimed that he had been offended by the images, testified how his partner had not received counselling neither before nor after the procedure and were therefore unaware of the stage of development of the unborn foetus depicted on the banner. In his statement to the court, he admitted that they had believed the photograph to have been of a much older baby given that arms, legs, fingers, toes and facial features were discernible, when in fact the age of the foetus displayed was 12 weeks. These images give pause for thought, there can be no doubt that one is terminating a little human being, regardless of whether or not one believes that it is truly alive or has any rights. The case has also highlighted the fact that not all women undergoing an abortion are given counselling and raises questions as to informed consent and the information or lack of, surrounding the procedure itself and stages of foetal development.

I admit to oscillating over the issue. These images do give people pause for thought, when faced with the vivid reality of what abortion does to an unborn child, women have instead opted not to undergo this gruesome and demeaning procedure. It is hard to argue with the cogent logic of Andy Stephenson, every time I visit the Abort 67 website, (revamped as of today) I am struck, not only with stomach-churning horror, but also by the veracity, which takes considerable sophistry to deny.

The evidence from those who employ graphic imagery is not only is it extremely convincing, but that often women who are being coerced specifically request leaflets with the graphic imagery, in the hope that they can use this in an attempt to persuade whoever is exerting pressure on them. “Look it really IS a baby”. They also say that men tend to be more won over than women, an experience that seems to chime with me – Robin was won over to the pro-life cause upon viewing a graphic presentation as sixth-former. Abort 67 state that once they have visited a school, the pro-choice groups will refuse to make a counter-visit as a form of protest, the reality being that these images are extremely powerful and difficult to counter. I also know of a previously pro-choice man, who after initially reacting very violently and angrily to these images (he was a pastor and came out with a stream of uncharacteristic expletives on viewing the Abort 67 video) suddenly became a passionate pro-life advocate. Surely if the images save one life they are worth it?

For me, there is a conflict between truth and charity. I previously used the phrase ‘stomach-churning’. I find these images gruesome and distressing to look and tend not to spend much time on the Abort 67 website as a result. I live not far from the site in Brighton and I have to confess to having to fix my eyes firmly on the road when driving past. (Andy, to his credit, has now come to arrangement with the owner of the nearby nursery, so these images are no longer displayed at times when young children will be attending the nursery. Incidentally the irony of an abortion clinic siting itself almost next door to a nursery and opposite a playground seems to have been lost on many.) I don’t like the images not only because they ignore the dignity of the dead, not just because it is a tragic display of a dismembered corpse who never had an opportunity to experience life in all its richness, but also because I am squeamish. Like many, I suspect, I recoil from the images, because I can’t be doing with gruesome gore and guts. I’m the kind of person who watches medical dramas peeping through the cracks in my hands.

When I see these types of images, be they aborted babies, victims of white phosphorous, of children wounded by war or animals experimented on, no matter how heart-rending, or urgent the issue, I put my head down, walk past and emotionally disengage. It’s not that I don’t care, far from it, but personally I prefer to engage on these issues on my terms and not be confronted by images of dismembered bodies whilst walking through town with my children. I may be unusually sensitive, a plot synopsis of the Human Centipede, aided by hormones, haunted my nightmares throughout my third pregnancy, but this is why the majority of people recoil. We don’t want to engage with the contents of what is akin to a snuff movie.

What the abortion clinics don’t want to admit, is that having an abortion is, for most people, a distressing and intimate experience. Women don’t walk through the clinic doors with a sense of objective detachment. Though many might not be aware of exactly what it is they are about to undergo, or the stage of foetal development, all women will realise that, particularly if the procedure is surgical, this will be an intimate and quite probably distressing physical procedure which carries all the attendant risks of trauma. Most women will not exactly be looking forward to what goes on in the cold clinical environment of the operating theatre. The display of graphic images, ups the emotional ante and does therefore add to the trauma of a woman having an abortion. If the pro-life lobby wants to demonstrate that it cares about women, then it needs to abhor anything that might conceivably cause emotional harm and distress.

It would take a certain type of cold hearted psyche not to care about the woman in distress, the woman who is well aware of the actions she is about to undertake and yet feels she has no other choice, to state that her feelings do not matter. I know of many women who have had abortions, due to circumstances, they felt were beyond their control. Such as a someone whom I last bumped into shopping for a pram in a baby store with great excitement. I last heard that she had aborted her unborn child upon discovering that s/he had terrible congenital abnormalities. Though I can’t condone her decision, I can well understand the agony that she went through. For her the decision was not a selfish one, it was not to do with rejecting an imperfect child, she genuinely believed that she was doing the child a kindness – all she could see was a short life of pain and suffering. Though there are many counter-arguments to that, in a culture that encourages and condones the killing of disabled children, couched in the language of compassion, it is very difficult to condemn the women who are in these situations and neither should one use loaded language or do anything that might add to their distress. It was, after all, for these very rare, tragic and horrific circumstances the Abortion Act came into being, a demonstration that hard cases make bad law.

Someone said to me, that if she had seen images such as these on the day that she terminated her pregnancy (a decision she now regrets) she would have committed suicide. Very often these images can be the last straw for women, even if they don’t wish to accept that it is an unborn baby, simply a depiction of bloody surgery could be enough to induce fear and trauma on an already frightened and sad woman. I had increasing difficulty with having to drive past them in the latter stages of my pregnancy. I can also state with confidence that had I been confronted with photos of a cesarian on the morning I gave birth, I would have been in a dreadful state, so frightened was I of the operation that was yet to come.

To me, the images, whilst not threatening or abusive, do cause distress, because they could contribute to a vulnerable woman’s fear. That’s one of the real reason why the clinics don’t want them there, not only do they show the truth of the procedure, but they are a visual reminder of the blood and guts to come – as opposed to the softly worded vague “gentle suction and removal of pregnancy” terminology.

The graphic images certainly have their place, in an academic surrounding, or, as Abort 67 have done in the past, on display in Speaker’s Corner, they can be extremely useful tools for depicting the reality of abortion, but it needs to be in an environment that is mutually consensual. To put them in a very visible place, where it is difficult to escape, simply arouses anger, controversy and polarises. There is also a danger that the more they are viewed, the more they lose their shock value as the public becomes desensitised. Already the more callous pro-choicers have used comparisons of removed gallstones.

Sarah Ditum wrote a piece in last week’s Guardian about the Rights and Limits debate that took place surrounding this issue, where she posed the question whether or not pro-life and pro-choice campaigners could agree on anything. It seems we can and that some consensus can be reached. All of us can agree that those participating in clinic vigils should have a perfect right to do so, under the tenets of free speech that we hold so dear in this country. We can and will disagree as to the morality of clinic vigils. So long as they are carried out peacefully and do not harass vulnerable women then they should continue. For many women the clinic vigils are a last minute life-line, and organisations such as Good Counsel, will attest to the hundreds of women who are helped as a result of their presence. Women who are on the margins of society and who are unable to be reached before they reach the abortion clinic doors. After all organisations such as Good Counsel, don’t have either the funds or the reach of the NHS, BPAS and Marie Stopes, so it’s impossible to offer them the alternative at an earlier stage.

If we want progress to be made, if we want lives to be saved, if we don’t want the draconian legislation being threatened and lobbied for by pro-choice groups who are desperate to stop any sort of presence outside clinics, then we need to find common ground, in order that as many women and babies can be helped as possible. That means showing that we are prepared to listen and to be compassionate. That means keeping the general public on side and showing that we do understand how difficult is for women going through an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy. That means understanding that images of brutal surgery and bloodied corpses could prove enormously and needlessly distressing to an already frightened and trapped women.

What is the more appropriate response? Shock and awe tactics, or to stand, like 40 days for life, a respectful distance away, quietly praying with a sign that says “we are here to help” with specially trained pavement counsellors who are able to respectfully engage in dialogue as well as provide adequate resources to make good on the promise of help. Wise as serpents and gentle as doves.

Clicktivism

I’m usually very sceptical of clicktivism, it is a poor substitute for direct action, but I’ve decided to make an exception. For those who haven’t heard of the anti-abortion group, Abort 67, it’s worth checking out their site here.

Their protests outside the Wistons Clinic on Chatsworth Road are currently putting the wind up BPAS, who are so concerned that they have attempted to have the protesters, who are protesting legally, arrested on multiple occasions. No charges have been brought however. I spied various pro-choicers plotting some counter-action on Twitter, apparently today they were out “undercover” although sources tell me that Abort67 are well aware of the other side’s attempts to mobilise against them and are quite happy to engage in open discourse. In fact Andy Stephenson has offered to debate Clare Murphy of BPAS live on radio, after she denounced them, however she declined the invitation, despite the fact that BBC radio were happy to host the conversation.

All credit to Abort67, who are obviously managing to unnerve the pro-abort lobby, to the extent that they are attempting to have the group banned. They are a little bit stuck however, as they admit themselves on Twitter, these protests are legal, therefore they are getting their heads together to see how Abort67 may be stopped. How very democratic!

If further proof of their success were needed, sources tell me that pro-choicers now refuse to visit those schools who have been open-minded enough to allow Abort 67 in to show presentations to their (older) pupils, to offer a counter-opinion. Such is the effectiveness of the Abort 67 presentation, the pro-abort groups know that there is little they can do to counter it, other than attempt to lobby the church in Worthing in which members of Abort 67 worship. This has conversely resulted in an upswell of support for them.

Of course the usual accusations of harassment have been thrown about, I have not admittedly manned an Abort 67 demonstration, however I can testify to having met Andy Stephenson, the leader of Abort 67, a man who gives the impression of being overflowing with compassion and who possess all the aggression of a golden retriever on valium.

One of the things that the pro-choicers were attempting to crow about was what they presumed to be the relatively low site stats of Abort67. I am currently adding them to my blogroll, as well as a link to their video – warning it’s graphic.

I think it would be really helpful if ALL Catholic and pro-life bloggers could consider adding Abort 67 to their blogrolls, and/or sporadically linking to their videos. Even better get in touch with them, steel your stomachs for their material and see about organising local protests and rallies. Even better than that, give them some financial support if you are able. I really believe that they are worthy of our support, they seem to be the first group out there, along with 40 days for Life who are managing to seriously put the wind up the abortion clinics. This isn’t a plea to support them over and above any other pro-life group, that people may have affiliations or support for, I think Abort 67 are very different to other groups in that they are engaging in direct action, they are courageously going out there, risking the wrath and enmity of the public in order to confront people with the gruesome reality that constitutes abortion. Though many have their reservations about graphic imagery, it is becoming increasingly evident to me that in a society that wishes to sanitise abortion with pastel coloured logos and the vague language of social validation designed to subliminally influence and coerce women into believing that abortion is a simple clean procedure, people need to be aware of the reality, if hearts and minds are to change. What is interesting is to note that many women who have had abortions, actually thank Abort 67 upon seeing their displays, reporting that it has given them an increased awareness and a chance to heal or grieve. Many state that had they known then, what they know now, they would not have undergone the procedure. Others are resolved to protect themselves and their loved ones from ever experiencing such violence. No wonder BPAS and MSI despise them.

Abort 67 are passionate and courageous defenders of the unborn, who engage in direct action.They don’t impinge upon other organisations – their mission is not to provide counselling or assistance (although they will point people to organisations who will help), they are there to tell a story. They are prepared to do what many of us are not. For that they deserve our support and our prayers. Let’s give them the encouragement that they deserve, even if that is only a link on your blogroll. I do not care that Abort 67 are not a Catholic group. I do not care that they are Evangelical Christians. I care about the unborn and I give whole-hearted support to anyone, regardless of creed, race, gender or sexuality who is prepared to go out there and take action that pricks consciences and saves lives.

For those who will call us nutters or lunatics – what is that angers you so much? What is wrong with showing the procedure in all its reality? Would it be acceptable to abort a puppy or a kitten? Why is acceptable to do this to a human being? Name-calling makes very little difference in any event, in the words of Andy Stephenson:

We don’t care what you think about us. We care what you think about abortion and, the angrier you are now, the harder it will be for you to get the reality of abortion out of your head. If you have a functioning conscience and possess a level of intellectual honesty then you will eventually reason that you are right to be angry but you are just angry at the wrong people

The pictures are sick because what they portray is sick. We aren’t the ones killing the babies in the pictures, the abortionists are.

If people can look at the pictures and want to attack us that is the sure sign of a selfish narcissistic culture. When we look at pictures of the Holocaust, do we get angry at the teacher or the ones who committed the atrocity?

I think what surprised me most of all was the intellectual courage and honesty of the pro-choice feminist Naomi Woolf:

The pro-choice movement often treats with contempt the pro-lifers’ practice of holding up to our faces their disturbing graphics….[But] how can we charge that it is vile and repulsive for pro-lifers to brandish vile and repulsive images if the images are real? To insist that truth is in poor taste is the very height of hypocrisy. Besides, if these images are often the facts of the matter, and if we then claim that it is offensive for pro-choice women to be confronted by them, then we are making a judgment that women are too inherently weak to face a truth about which they have to make a grave decision. This view is unworthy of feminism.

In the meantime do you have the courage to take a look at the video below? Here is how the abortion providers describe it.

http://www.abort67.co.uk/plugins/content/jw_allvideos/players/mediaplayer_4.3.swf