A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week for pro-lifers - what now?
Posted by Alithea Williams on 6 July 2017
The Citizens' Assembly may have recommended abortion on demand - but what about the 80,000 marching for life in Dublin?
Things aren't all bad - and you can make a difference.
Last week was, without doubt, a hard and very sad one for the pro-life movement. It was a week that saw the BMA, ignoring excellent contributions from opposing doctors, vote to make decriminalising abortion official policy. Then, on Thursday, something no one had seen coming - the Government suddenly abandoning decades of policy and caving into pressure to fund abortion for women from Northern Ireland in England. By the time the weekend came around, I was completely emotionally exhausted, and I know my friends working for other pro-life groups felt the same.
How then, do we respond to this week of defeats, and how do we move forward?
Learn from the past
Firstly, we need to take stock and learn lessons. If there was any doubt of it before, we now know how dangerous this parliament is for unborn babies. The pro-abortion forces that have been lining up from the very first moment have struck early and fast. Last week was also a helpful reminder of just how far the anti-life ideology has infiltrated medical institutions. At the BMA meeting, the eloquent, factual contributions of the opposition were ignored, and the poorly informed and at times downright misleading arguments of the decriminalisation advocates won the day. As Dr Peter Saunders argues, the vote was carefully stage managed, with the supposedly neutral members of the medical ethics committee clearly in favour of change.
Politics isn't just in Parliament
We shouldn't downplay the scale of the setbacks last week - and we should examine them carefully to see what lessons can be learnt - but nor should be give into despair. What happens in government is very important (and we are asking people to write to their MPs to protest the abortion funding decision) but we shouldn't make the mistake of thinking it's the only thing that matters. The situation in Parliament may be bleak, but if we take a wider view, the picture is rather different. While political and medical institutions may be in thrall to the agenda of those pushing for more and more abortion, we know that the public in fact supports greater restrictions on abortion.
Hope from Ireland
Or take Ireland. The news from there is bleak - the Citizen's Assembly essentially recommended abortion on demand (at least up to some stages of gestation), and the first thing the new Taoiseach did was announce a referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment, which most of the mainstream media is delighted by. You'd be forgiven for thinking the whole country was clamouring for "progressive" abortion laws. Yet, on Saturday, up to 80,000 people marched through the streets of Dublin in defence of the unborn.
And on a local level, people up and down the country are turning out to find out what they can do to play their part in the pro-life cause, in our 50th Anniversary Tour Meetings.
Make a change where you are
In many ways it is at the local, and indeed individual, level that should shape our response to the events of last week. Many of us will feel powerless in the face of terrible political decisions that we have no way of changing. But that doesn't mean there's nothing we can do. The pro-life movement isn't just about shaping political events, it's about saving lives and changing hearts. Talking to friends about abortion might not change the law, but that conversation might change someone's mind, or shape their response if they find themselves in a crisis pregnancy. Witnessing outside a clinic won't mean much to the world, but it could mean everything to the baby who is saved and the mother who is given help.
There are things that all of us can do. Whether it's joining SPUC in doing door to door leafleting campaigns, writing to your local media, or spreading the word on social media as I do, we all have a part to play. In the face of a series of setbacks, we can say with St Teresa of Calcutta: "I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples."