of the
Good Shepherd
The Awakening Tour Comes To Nottingham
I responded to a plea that went out from a fellow SPUC pro lifer back in August for a large room to host a pro life presentation by an organisation called Abort 67 who are also part of CBRUK. I hadn't heard of them but on the basis that anyone who is a friend of unborn babies is a friend of mine I was happy to listen to what they had to say and provide a venue.

The meeting was eventually arranged to fit in with their other tour dates for 17th November 2017.

Flyers were sent out and adverts placed in various parish newsletters but sadly the meeting was not well attended. I really do mean sadly as I, and all those I have spoken to so far were very impressed by the speakers and what they had to say. I am summarising it below from memory so I may get some details wrong but hope it is correct in the parts that really matter. It is important to realise that whilst what they are doing may sound very confrontational they all came across as very gentle, caring and deeply spiritual people. ( Jesus' instruction to his disciples to be as wily as foxes and gentle as doves comes to mind when I think of them)

The team consisted of Ivana who had been my contact in organising the event, a young lady called Aisling and a gentleman called Andy who was the founder of Abort 67. Aisling started off the presentation by talking about how generations past have had blind spots in relation to things such as the holocaust and slavery and suggested that abortion is this generation's blind spot. One of the reasons that these atrocities were tolerated by society at the time was that the true nature of what was happening was hidden from view of most people. In the case of slavery it was only when Wilberforce and his comrades went round the country showing models of the slave ships and pictures of slaves in chains that attitudes started to change.

We were then shown the BPAS (or Marie Stopes I can't remember which) video that is shown to women contemplating abortion and they warned us that they had edited it to insert a video of an actual abortion procedure. Needless to say the clinic's version was glossy and showed friendly smiling staff and the procedure was, of course horrific but, in the ordinary course of things, hidden from view.

Andy went on to explain that he first became involved with pro life work when he saw an ultrasound of his own child at 12 weeks. The realisation hit him that abortions were being carried out at that age and he felt compelled to do something about it. He teamed up with someone else from the Campaign for Bio ethic Reform and they decided to have graphic images made of the results of abortion and show them in a city centre. (I don't remember which city) The police tried to stop him and eventually he was arrested and taken to court. There was a five day trial in which he was accused of showing offensive and graphic material. Andy, in his defence agreed entirely that the images were offensive and graphic because the procedure and what it showed was offensive which is why it had to be shown! The judge found in his favour and the police had to pay costs of over £300,000.

This did have a positive outcome for the organisation in that it enabled them to approach other cities and show the material after first contacting the local council and police and sending them a copy of the judge's decision. ( I guess no council or police force have £300,000 to risk on a court case!) Pro choice activists always come out when they set up the banners and images but they have found the police to be helpful when they are informed in advance.

Andy also showed a video of one of these set ups in the city centre. There are signs up saying "warning graphic images" Group members were standing quietly by the pictures and another member was talking to people who stopped to look at them. The approach was gentle and along the lines of " what do you think of what you see? Have you ever seen anything like this before? Did you know that this was what an aborted foetus was like" The response tended to be shock, not at being shown something graphic ( most people see graphic images every day on the television) but at the reality, that it was allowed to happen, that it really was a baby etc. People were saying that they had been pro choice before but not now. ...

You may be aware that some councils are close to introducing "buffer zones" around some abortion clinics to prevent pro lifers from praying and handing out leaflets. Thanks to Andy's judge's decision he is able to help to fight this by threatening to set up their signs outside clinics if councils try to stop people praying there. (Wiley as foxes, gentle as doves......)

At question time I asked how they would respond to the concerns people raise that these images could be upsetting to children and to women who have had abortions. Andy responded that, firstly he had never seen a child look upset about the images. Children are resilient and tend to take a lead from the adult they are with. It is not their aim to upset but to educate people and it is about "loving them both" . In fact a number of women who have had abortions have told them that if they had seen these pictures before they would never have had an abortion. We also need to think about that photograph of a dead toddler washed up during the refugee crisis. Everyone knew that people were dying crossing the sea to Greek islands but it was that photograph that caused a sea shift in public opinion.

In this respect I also think about Lucia Francesca and Jacinta at Fatima and how Our Lady allowed them to see a vision of Hell when they were very young children, a vision that really did impact them deeply. No doubt the children were very upset by this but Our Lady showed it to them as the potential good from doing so outweighed the upset.

There is no doubt in my mind that abortion is one of today's greatest evils and now even Ireland appears to be sleepwalking into allowing it to be made legal. Shocking images are just that: shocking, but they do have impact and perhaps that is what is needed to overcome what may well be this generation's blind spot.

Submitted by Marie Langford
3 Thackeray's Lane, Woodthorpe, Nottingham, NG5 4HT. Tel: (0115) 926 8288