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Posts Tagged ‘Good Counsel Network’

Last week on the Daily Politics show, Rupa Huq, the Labour MP for Ealing who has been openly encouraging the pro-choice group, Sister Supporter, appeared to waver slightly on her stance. 

When it was pointed out to her that it was in fact  the pro-choice group Sister Supporter who have been turning the clinic vigils into something of a circus, Ms Huq responded as follows in relation to the protestors, “Clear them all” and “I would like to keep these pavements a safer space and clear of protestors from whatever side”. 

I couldn’t help but wonder whether or not Anna Vegilo-White might not have seen that as something of a betrayal coming from the MP who has supported and encouraged her group .  Ms Huq appeared to be saying that they were all as bad as each other.

The point made by Clare McCullough, one of the founders of the Good Counsel Network was a valid one. Until the emergence of Sister Supporter about a year ago, there had never previously been any complaints of nuisance by the local residents.

The vigil consists of a handful of mainly elderly people, on the green across the road from the abortion facility, who quietly pray the rosary. They have a couple of signs, one of the Virgin Mary, one a nice picture of a baby in utero,  and another which invites women to approach them if they are in need of any assistance. Slightly more controversially, placed on the ground in front of them are three models of plastic foetuses, all anatomically correct and in proportion, corresponding to different stages in pregnancy. One volunteer stands near the clinic entrance offering passers-by a leaflet, which they are free to accept or decline.

If there was harassment of the nature alleged by Sister Supporter and Marie Stopes, including that which stops women and supposedly staff, from entering and leaving the clinic, then existing legislation, such as the Public Order Act, which has been successfully used to prosecute anti-vivisectionist and animal rights campaigners, would already have been used. In an age where the camera phone is ubiquitous and the clinic has two cameras permanently trained upon the vigil, why has there been no footage released of women being harassed, shouted at, abused and even, as Pam Lowe attempted to claim on BBC1’s Sunday Morning Live, having what she sincerely hoped was, holy water, thrown over them.  A particularly vicious lie.

The fact is that no criminal prosecution or even arrests have taken place, because no criminal activity has occurred. The Public Space Protection Order, which Ealing Borough Council hopes to impose will criminalise the activities of those on the vigil. Activity, which could arguably be defined as freedom of speech and the right to protest, which is covered by sections 10 and 11 of the Human Rights Act.

Every Saturday, Sister Supporter and their pro-choice rentamob (consisting of an existing London network of pro-choice supporters), pitch up wearing pink high vis jackets, brandishing megaphones  and boomboxes and attempt to disrupt the prayer vigil. They sing erudite songs of female emancipation such as Abba’s totemic ‘Dancing Queen’, before tailing off and launching into other classics, such as ‘If you like Pina Colada’. Let’s be honest, it’s about the only pain relief that’s going to be on offer inside a Marie Stopes, according to the recent findings of the CQC.

I’ve blogged about the antics of Sister Supporter before, but they have happily disrupted a peaceful religious procession which departs from Ealing Abbey every Saturday and also attempted to prevent Mass-goers from leaving the building. Their aim is to put as much pressure as possible on the abbey in order that they will then discourage Catholics from participating in any kind of pro-life activity in public. It seems that Sister Supporter aren’t very tolerant when it comes to religious freedom.

As Clare McCullough pointed out on a number of different media, it’s actually far worse for women entering the abortion clinic to be faced with a confrontational throng and an atmosphere of hostility, where they can’t tell who is who, rather than one single person, offering them a leaflet.

Back to Rupa Huq and today in the House of Commons, Ms Huq raised a question about the proposed PSPO in Ealing and whether or not these can be extended across the country, to which Conservative in name only, Amber Rudd appeared to signal her agreement. As part of her question Rupa alluded to the pro-choice demonstrators who have for the past year been creating a situation of hostility and chaos outside the abortion facility, making it very difficult for the general public to pass. (Unlike our quiet rosary prayers who stand on the grass).

 

It’s clear then, that Rupa Huq sees both sides as a nuisance and equally vexatious. Which begs the question, why does she regularly join in and lead the protestors such as she did this weekend, the day AFTER she had called for them all to be cleared on the Daily Politics show.

 

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Labour MP, Rupa Huq, Saturday 14th October 2017, standing much closer to the pavement than those on the pro-life vigil and proudly facing them down. These same pro-choice protestors that she described as a problem in Parliament, on Monday 16th October 2017

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A close-up of Rupa Huq in the centre of the pro-choice protest Saturday 14th October 2017

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Rupa Huq on a previous occasion outside the Mattock Lane clinic in Ealing. Leading a pro-choice protest which she now describes as a problem and nuisance for local residents.

And riddle me this. Why then this morning, did Marie Stopes have to ask a group of pro-choice students from a local university not to film their clients as they entered the clinic? Did Marie Stopes note this pro-choice harassment in their log book? Did they film the pro-choice students filming? You can bet your life that had this been pro-lifers the footage would have been all over social media quick sharp complete with obligatory rosaries and ovaries hashtag.

A cynic would suggest that the new pro-choice tactic is indeed to cause as much disruption outside of the clinics as possible in order to get everyone tarred with the same brush and banned as swiftly as possible. No more women helped to choose life for their baby outside of the clinic and no awkward visible reminders of the humanity of the child whose life is at stake. How very convenient.

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For the past 22 years  a quiet pro-life vigil has taken place outside the Marie Stopes abortion clinic in Ealing, a vigil which, until the past couple of years went unnoticed. The police have been aware of the vigil since its inception and in 22 years there has not been a single arrest or charge laid against any of those attending.

What happens at this vigil is the usual type of thing – pro-life groups stand on the other side of the green, across the pavement from the clinic, praying for all inside, the pregnant women, their unborn children along with the staff themselves.

Pro-choice feminist protesters largely ignored what was going on in the quiet suburbs of Ealing largely because of its location. Ealing isn’t as easy to travel to as Bedford Square in central London, where up until 2013, BPAS operated a clinic which was previously the flashpoint in the abortion culture wars.

In fact the location of the Ealing clinic is fairly typical. Like the Marie Stopes facility in Buckhurst Hill, Essex, it is on the outskirts of London, in a picturesque converted suburban building with a discreet plaque, designed to look very attractive from the outside, blend in with the local community and distract from the horror within. Here’s a video of 40 Days for Life director Robert Colquhoun outlining the Christian history of the building. 

 

Abortion Ambulance 5 EMS 09 03 2013

An ambulance attending a medical emergency at Marie Stopes Ealing, a common sight

When I look back on my own experience of abortion, one of the many surreal moments was sitting in a beautiful high-ceiling room complete with ornate coving, elegant light-fittings and all-round exquisite decor while partaking of a selection of delicious sandwiches from a local delicatessan, laid on for women who had just taken the first of two doses of pills to bring about an abortion. It felt bizarre sitting there with a group of women all of whom were studiously avoiding eye-contact with each other or alternatively making superficial conversation like a scene from a period drama, while we were all there for the same reason. It’s one of the aspects which still haunts me. I sat there, in terribly salubrious surroundings, stuffing my face with cucumber sandwiches to alleviate the boredom and unease during the prescribed waiting time, while inside me the child was being slowly poisoned to death.

Marie Stopes had warned us in the literature that protestors may be outside both the central London clinic that I attended for the initial consultation and also the one in Buckhurst Hill, but there wasn’t a protestor to be seen, much to my chagrin. I’ve written about this before, but inside, I was aching for a fight and for someone, somewhere, to challenge me.

Despite the fact that the Good Counsel Network have been conducting vigil clinics for 20 years in the UK, (and other groups for longer) it was only since the arrival of 40DaysforLife in the UK, in 2011, that suddenly clinic vigils became an issue and burst into public consciousness, because clearly the abortion clinics don’t like them very much and they are able to swiftly harness and tap into the support of both pro-choice MPs and mainstream media.

The tactics of those who attend the vigils have never altered. Contrary to popular myth, they do not block the entrances of clinics, they do not follow women down the street, they don’t video women and they certainly don’t shout abuse at them. They stand quietly, a respectful distance away, carrying signs with offers of help and praying. One counselor stands slightly nearer offering passers-by a leaflet.

Ealing pro-lifers

Standing a respectful distance away from the Ealing, no blocking of entrances and no banners,  just prayer

 

Groups such as the Good Counsel Network and 40 Days for Life often get conflated with Abort 67, who display large banners of aborted foetuses outside clinics. Abort 67’s focus is not about prayer, but educating the public to the realities of abortion and they don’t just stand outside clinics but also in other public places, such as Speakers Corner in Hyde Park or outside the Department of Health.

In the age where smartphones are ubiquitous and where the abortion clinics have stationed cameras outside their facilities, not a shred of pictorial or video evidence has ever emerged to support the smears of harassment or intimidation by pro-life groups that do the rounds on social media. Andy Stephenson, the leader of Abort 67 was prosecuted, but the case collapsed. What Abort 67 do have, is cameras around their necks, strapped to their chests, to protect themselves against allegations of harassment and intimidation. So far the only footage to emerge is of members of the public challenging and threatening them, to the great acclaim of the public.

So anyway, back to Ealing where the pro-life vigil has taken place without incident for the past 22 years. The pro-lifers turn up every day, pray, give out leaflets, offer support and go home. Enraged by this, a group of pro-choice women calling themselves Sister Supporter have decided to pitch up every Saturday and put in a counter protest. They have been joined on occasion by Rupa Huq, the local MP for Ealing, who has decided to join this feminist cause celebre.

 

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Ealing MP Rupa Huq participating in a pro-choice demo in Ealing

Pro-Lifers, including Ms Huq’s own constituents have invited her many times to engage with the women, many of whom are immigrants or from ethnic minorities and who, as a result of the help and support given by the pro-life groups, have chosen not to abort their babies. These are pregnant women who approached the pro-lifers wary of their claims that they would really be able to help and found themselves given significant financial and other practical assistance  for as long they needed it. Women who did not qualify for any assistance or who would be presented by a bill by the NHS if they approached them for maternity care. In fact the only ‘choice’ that they were being given, was that of a free abortion. These are women are of all faiths and none who feel so empowered by the help that they were offered that they now join in the vigils, complete with infants in puschairs in an attempt to persuade others that there is another way. Ms Huq, has to date, refused to engage. 

Pro-lifers accept that they cannot have it both ways. A free and democratic society which affords them the right to ‘protest’ (although they would dispute that their prayer vigils and offers of assistance are in any way a protest), also confers identical rights to those on the pro-choice side of the debate.

But at what stage does this cross a line? Yesterday, a local group, calling themselves “Sister Supporter” posted triumphantly on their Facebook page, that they had disrupted pro-life activities at the nearby Ealing Abbey. The logic behind this being that many of those who attend the pro-life vigils attend Mass at Ealing Abbey. So in the twisted minds of Sister Supporter, this makes everyone who attends church there, accountable and a potential target for punitive action. The old guilt by association fallacy. 

Sister Supporter gleefully reported that they stood on the doorstep of Ealing Abbey, with the deliberate intent of intimidating church-goers, in order that they might experience how it feels. Despite the fact that those on a pro-life vigil, stand on the other side of the green across the pavement and do not block the doorway of the abortion clinic or obstruct anyone from entering or leaving. They then attacked church attenders for ‘sneakily’ using the rear entrance in order to avoid them.

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Not content with their acknowledged intimidation of people attending church, Sister Supporter said that they weren’t going to let the people leave ‘without a fight’. A religious pro-life procession was leaving the church, so this group ‘sprinted in front of them’, blocking the huge icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary being peacefully processed around the streets, with aggressive pro-choice and anti-Catholic inflammatory placards. 

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Sister Supporter’s photo on their public Facebook page, blocking the religious parade, conducted by members of Ealing Abbey (see monk in the background)


Judging from the photos, only a handful of protestors were present at this stage, compared to those who blockaded the church and later stood outside the clinic adjacent to the pro-life vigil, but here we have a group of people who, by their own admission were out to ‘intimidate’ religious believers by way of ‘retribution’. Firstly the aim of those on pro-life vigils is never to intimidate, but secondly, didn’t anyone ever teach these people that two wrongs don’t make a right? One of the pro-life counsellors on the vigil said that last week a ‘Sister Supporter’ tried jumping up and down in front of her, when she was handing a leaflet to a woman, admitting that her conduct amounted to harassment. “Yes, it is harassment” she cried, “now you know what it feels like!”

anti harassment

Except when it comes to Catholics trying to have a peaceful religious procession.

Also, how is expressly setting out to intimidate and blockade a group of people on account of their religious beliefs, not a hate crime or at the very least, a breach of the Public Order Act? How is this any different to those who would nail a slice of bacon to a mosque door? The procession which took place is purely religious procession and organisers tell me that there are no pro-life placards or slogans on display. I do hope that the Metropolitan police take note. Apparently last week, these women screamed Lily Allen’s “F*** You very very much” while people were praying stations of the cross.

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Here’s what the procession usually looks like, minus the ladies in high-vis pink jackets. It is an overtly religious, not political one. Note the presence of a monk and lack of any pro-life slogans.

Other points to note. Sister Supporter claim to have been set up by a ‘concerned local’ in many of their posts and back-stories, however when I attempted to comment on their post, my comments were instantaneously removed, accompanied by the comments that I am a ‘known homophobe who has upset one too many of my friends to be able to be given a platform here’. Which would indicate pro-choice activists, the same ones who organized outside Bedford Square a few years ago and who were befriended by the usual motley gang of trolls,  as opposed to an impromptu group of concerned local residents. They are also snowflakes if they can’t cope with a couple of perfectly civil questions or observations.

 

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Bless their little cotton socks.

One of the questions  I asked was why the comments in the thread used photographs of clinic protests that took place in America, not the UK, to justify their actions. Photographs which were subsequently removed, along with every comment which questioned their protest.  Every single photograph I have seen of the Ealing protest depicts people standing a decent and respectable distance away. The imagery which is  displayed is not that of aborted foetuses, but consists of 6 A4 laminated posters with images of unborn babies, which Sister Supporter has referred to as being ‘distressing and gross’.

Abortion Ambulance 6 EMS 14 03 2013

Here’s another photo of an ambulance called out to attend to a medical emergency at Marie Stopes. The A4 laminated photos are in the foreground. The location of the vigil, some distance away (the clinic is behind the ambulance) is also apparent.

Other posts mocked the attire of the pro-life women for wearing ‘long skirts and anoraks’. Shaming women for what they wear doesn’t seem to be very feminist. Unlike the recent anti-Trump demonstrations in which children were actively invited to participate, being exposed to foul language and filthy imagery, Sister Supporter ask that women do not bring their children along to their clinic protests. They don’t want to upset the clients inside. Although one might ask what the presence of children is related to a ‘non-human blob of tissue’ which is supposedly part of a woman’s body? A cynic might note that clients at Marie Stopes are far more likely to be irritated by a group of middle-class women belting out eighties music at the top of their lungs while they are having an abortion, than a few toddlers and children. One regular choice is “Give me all your money, all your hugs and kisses too” . Gallows humour suggests that this is grimly appropriate for a clinic charging about £700 for each woman’s baby they abort.

A regular pro-life attendee at Ealing  chuckles recounting that “one Saturday they were supporting women by singing, or rather ‘singing’ half-remembered lyrics of ‘Dancing Queen’ and ‘If you like Pina Colada’. The latter was mostly ‘Yes I like Pina Colada, and getting caught in the rain. Yes I like making love at midnight…mumble mumble giggle’. While Dancing Queen was rendered ‘Dancing Queen, young and sweet only 17, ooo yeah, before tapering off into a slightly awkward ‘la la la”. There was also the woman who kept barking ‘she’ll be respecting women when she comes’, to the tune of ‘Coming Round the Mountain’. It’s like watching a drunk uncle do karaoke at a funeral.” Quite. Don’t woman deserve better. It’s no surprise that it’s actually this pink pantomime deterring women from attending Marie Stopes Ealing, (whose staff members egg on and encourage the pro-choice contingent) and why they want pro-lifers banned. Fewer women having an abortion can not be allowed to continue.

Sister Supporter

The Pink Pantomime Brigade. Womb raider? You may want to re-think that one.

Another regular attendee at Ealing reports this. “I have spoken to many ‘Sister Supporters’ outside the clinic. I asked them how they feel about those women for whom abortion is a matter of “no choice”

Some of them refused to believe that such women exist.

One openly mocked the story I told her of two women I know who had not wanted to have the abortion they were seeking and were helped to keep their babies by the GCN and who are mothers of lovely daughters now. She repeated in a sing song voice “and they all lived happily ever after…not”

So much for “pro choice”.

Another one kept interjecting when I was talking to three young Sister Supporters, repeatedly saying “Don’t talk to her, she’s a plant”.

Neither Sister Supporter, nor the clinics appear to be reaching out to women who feel so pressurised that they have no other choice than to abort. Women with no employment rights, no rights to benefits and no rights to obstetric care. These are women who are facing destitution if they have a baby, but whose plight Sister Supporter prefers to ignore and pretend they are invisible.

No doubt these women will be outraged to learn that so far during Lent, 17 (hopefully soon to be 18) woman have decided not to abort their babies and will mutter about manipulation. Women being persuaded to keep their babies rather than aborting them? That’s not the kind of choice which interests them, nor it would seem the general public, who  prefer fake news when it comes to persecuted women.

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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.

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A few weeks ago when I wrote about the Ps, of Pro-life, Prayer, PR and Politics, Ben Trovato reminded me of an omission – that of positive action.

I was reminded of that earlier today, upon receipt of some news from the Good Counsel Network, regarding a mum and baby whom they are attempting to help and support. It would not at this point, be appropriate for me to go into the specifics of this case, but it’s a timely reminder that though the narrative of abortion seems to be about fully autonomous choice – the reality is far from that for many women, who are coerced into abortion against their will, often being frogmarched to abortion clinics by controlling relatives or boyfriends.

There are a handful of sceptics in the pro-life movement who believe that pro-life work should not consist of helping women in need, but should be all about the politics and campaigning for changes in society, in order to make abortion not only unthinkable but also unnecessary. Pro-life work should not consist purely of mopping up, of providing the layette and the basic baby equipment for impoverished or abandoned mothers, but needs to think beyond the needs of the newborn baby and address the needs of single mothers with toddlers and young children. It is not enough to think that once the baby is saved from the abortionist’s tools, that the job is done. We need a society that is prepared to protect the vulnerable, which includes amongst others, young children and their mothers.

In a recent conversation with Deborah Orr, I highlighted that abortion is a sign of female inequality, in that women are under various pressures not to have children if they want to be able to compete on equal terms with men in the workplace. There is something very wrong in a society that seeks to present abortion as solution to inequality, if anything abortion perpetuates the inequality as it forces the woman to suppress her feminine fertility and natural bodily functions, if she is to succeed, or in some cases survive. The social, financial and economic inequalities that lead to abortion being touted as a solution need to be addressed, which is why pro-life needs to look beyond pregnancy and the newborn baby.

But that does not mean that there is no place for practical action. In a society that uses abortion as a sticking plaster, we therefore need practical action to help these women who feel that they have little other choice. Whilst some may feel that the politicking and campaigning is their calling, there is also a need to step in and help those who are facing desperate and terrible circumstances.

Which is where organisations like the Good Counsel network come in. Contrary to the myths peddled by the Guardian, the Good Counsel Network are there helping the poorest and those marginalised in society. Their typical clients are not the middle-class professionals arriving for a lunchtime abortion, but those on the very fringes of society. Women from ethnic minorities who are facing terrible cultural pressures for example. Immigrants who do not qualify for any benefits and who financially feel that they have little other choice. Homeless women and victims of domestic violence. Why should these women be denied the choice or opportunity of motherhood, due to poverty or social isolation?

The Good Counsel network has been criticised for its overt Christian iconography and Christian mission, but let’s think about this for a minute. Christ was a man of compassion. He shared human burdens and alleviated suffering. Jesus could not look at those suffering without being moved to intervene in some way. He was moved when people experienced pain, sickness, sorrow, were hungry, lonely or confused. Christ was concerned with helping people, and if we are to bring about the Kingdom it is not simply by empathy, by feeling someone’s pain but by following in his footsteps and doing something to alleviate it. The Good Counsel network is all about compassion in action, by demonstrating Christ’s love, not simply by words and certainly not by evangelising or attempting to convert, but by the outreach, love and support they give to women in specific need.

I know what it is like to be pregnant and vulnerable, only too well. I am fortunate, my husband tells me everyday what a hero I am for doing the work of nurturing an unborn child and bringing her to life, whilst also looking after our other little ones. He is also good at doing what he can to alleviate the burdens when he can, be that cuddling the baby to sleep so that I can have a bath, doing as many household chores as he can, taking the children out for a few hours at the weekend so I can have a much needed nap, or simply going out to fetch a packet of Haribo or MacDonalds as the mood takes me. I think he’s the hero frankly for putting up with grumpy pregnant miserable hefalump wife for 9 months! I would not have coped without him.  Many women do not have that. The Good Counsel network provides the much needed emotional, practical and often financial support that is so often missing.

To be pregnant, whilst not an illness, is to be vulnerable. Anyone who calls themselves pro-life, needs to accept this. Pregnant women get free prescriptions, free dental care because pregnancy puts an additional physical burden on the body, it lowers immunity and makes women more susceptible to illnesses and infections. Employment law also now recognises this, which is why employers have a duty of care to ensure that pregnant women are not working in an unsafe or physically compromising environment and are not over-burdened or compromised. In every single one of my pregnancies, I have at some point just wanted someone to understand all the various physical and emotional anxieties, and someone to reassure me that everything is going to be OK. This is where the support offered by pro-life organisations is invaluable. They are there to help, not just with platitudes but with actual help, be that being there at the end of the phone, or helping to provide the basics that a woman needs. The mother is not dismissed the moment that she has her baby either, the Good Counsel Network, continues to offer help, advice and support for as a long as a woman feels it necessary, hence they are still assisting mothers with toddlers and older children. It is up to the mother to decide when she no longer needs their help.

Here is why they should not be dismissed or scoffed at.

We spend £40,000 per year on feeding Mothers. And we give this help when a Mother has no wage, no right to benefits and no other means of support.
Some of our Mothers were sleeping on buses or on the street as late as 7 months into their pregnancies.
Many others considered abortion because of their devastating poverty when their baby’s father chose not to support them in having their baby.Those readers who have been pregnant and who know the awful hunger pangs you can endure in pregnancy even when you have plenty to eat will understand how terrible real hunger in pregnancy can be!
We always deliver the help that we promise an expectant Mother. We don’t provide luxuries, but we do provide the basics
I noticed pro-choicers scoffing at their website a few weeks ago. It comes to something when a charitable organisation is laughed at for its choice of font, and it also shows exactly where the priorities of the Good Counsel Network lie. This is not a glossy, pious sanctimonious spirituality, but a roll-your-sleeves up apostolic mission. People like Stuart and Clare are there on the frontline getting their hands dirty and incurring the wrath and enmity of those who would much rather the poor and marginalised were forced to abort their babies and the abuse that comes with that territory. Whilst society sanctions and condones abortion, then organisations such as Good Counsel network will be needed and never more so in these times of austerity.
Here are some of their costs:
It costs us £35 to feed an new Mother for 1 week.
It costs us £25 to feed an expectant Mother for 1 week.
It costs £15 to pay for baby milk each week when a Mother cannot breastfeed.
It costs us £7 a week to buy nappies for a baby.
It costs about £3.60 a day to feed an expectant Mother.
Here’s how to donate. £5 a month is the equivalent of 2 lattes in a typical chain, or perhaps a bottle of wine from the supermarket. In the meantime the Good Counsel Network  would appreciate any prayers, fasting or acts of suffering for “M”.
Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.

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I received the following comment from Clare McCollough at Good Counsel Network, showing that they are indeed aptly named. I thought it was worth publishing in a separate post.

Here’s a link to LIME 5 for those wondering.

Hi Caroline
I understand where you’re coming from (I can’t say I understand totally, because what every woman goes through is different of course).
I could take offence that you seem to suggest that no pro-lifer understands what you have described here. Or that you suggest that the only thing the pro-life movement can offer you is baby clothes. That’s not fair! We spend our lives working out ways for women to implement real solutions to exactly the type of problems you list here. However, I understand that you’re not in the easiest state of mind at present.

So just to be clear, I think there are ways you can be helped through this difficult time and would be glad to help. Good Counsel is on 02077231740 or email us at info@goodcounselnetwork.freeserve.co.uk

I agree with some of what you said about Counselling. It addresses part of the reasons why I didn’t support Nadine Dorries.
It’s possible too that a better method of NFP or one more suited to you is available – saying that doesn’t blame you for anything. Maybe there isn’t, but in any case, as a Catholic it seems a bizarre idea that anyone would walk around “blaming” a Catholic woman for getting pregnant. It’s what happens in Marriage. NFP is great in it’s place, but God didn’t say “Thou shalt use NFP and if it fails it shall be thine own fault thou art pregnant”…Many, many Catholic women who are open to life have faced the tremendous upheaval of a pregnancy at a time which seemed impossible. Catholic women are in this together, the really bizarre world view is the one that says “get married, enter into a life giving union with this man and use any gadget, gizmo, pill, gel, injection, patch or whatever to prevent the consequence…

It is not necessarily true to say Marie Stopes and BPAS wouldn’t make a judgement on you. One of the most frequent complaints I hear from women is “I think the lady I saw at that (Marie Stopes or BPAS) “clinic” is pro-life” When questioned further they think this because she was rude or agressive, shocked at their reason to abort, annoyed that they had aborted before, impatient when they were tearful or unsure. (A sad reflection of the media image of the average pro-lifer – but not a true image of the vast majority in my experience). We must steer clear of demonising anyone who works for MS or BPAS as not all understand the reality of what they are doing, but it is a mistake to believe that all who call themselves “pro-choice” are non judgemental and woman friendly. Many of them hate their jobs and blame the women who come to them for needing their services. This is well documented (see LIME 5 and many post abortion groups writings for evidence) and something

I have personally met with in “clinic staff” many times.

You face a difficult time at present, and you know life isn’t going to be easy even after the birth. My son didn’t sleep day or night for 2 decades after he was born (hang on he’s only 4 so that can’t be right, but it feels like it!) so I realise the way small children impact your life. But we would be glad to assist with the things you think would help and maybe even to put out a few other ideas that might help for you to consider.
Prayers are with you anyway.
God bless
Clare McCullough, Good Counsel

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