Pro-life counsellors offer women a genuine choice
Posted by Laura Doherty on 10 November 2015
A few months ago, the vice chair of Abortion Rights UK, Kate Smurthwaite, wrote a piece decrying the presence of pro-lifers outside abortion 'clinics' in the UK - a practice, she says, is imported from America.
Of course, the image she conjures up of the protestors is wildly inaccurate. No one is screaming at women (or air conditioning repair engineers, or stray cats) or blocking the doors, as she suggests.
No one is being intimidated or harassed, unless of course you class people standing on a public pavement as "harassment". No, what actually happens is that women are offered very real support as an alternative to abortion and (shock horror) they are given the freedom to choose.
How do I know this? Well, unlike many who malign us and our so-called tactics, I myself have seen first-hand what happens at one of these vigils. I can tell you that vigils are vastly different compared to how one would imagine them to be, if you listened to the people claiming that 'clinics' need buffer zones to protect womankind from us.
I think it's telling that every defence of the pro-choice mentality needs to paint pro-lifers as lying extremists. For example, while not every vigil uses graphic images, that doesn't stop Miss Smurthwaite from implying that all pro-lifers are lying in wait, ready to pounce on unsuspecting women waving an oversized photo of a scene from the latest horror film in their faces.
Of course, where images of foetal remains are used, they are entirely accurate, and their authenticity is doubted only by those who don't want women to know the truth. "Debate has raged over the extent to which these images are Photoshopped", she says, "The protestors claim each is real but clearly, they're not to scale so some digitally (sic) trickery has occurred." Marvel at our digital trickery! We made it bigger, just to confuse you!
The arguments against the authenticity of these images are feeble to begin with: they usually revolve around the child in the picture being older than claimed, forgetting the obvious fact that referring to any embryology textbook or any pregnancy website will show the child looking exactly the same at the various stages of development. Bear in mind that these types of sources are not “pro-life propaganda”. Indeed, these websites in particular often have a definite pro-abortion slant.
Facts speak for themselves
So, a look at the facts can show that these images are accurate, and, in fact, these arguments only ever seem to come from 'pro-choice' keyboard warriors and rhetoric makers. Abortionists themselves don’t need to dispute the images because they see the same thing in the flesh every day, as the recent spate of viral videos about Planned Parenthood’s black market baby parts business shows.
I don’t know about you, Kate, but when I see damning photographic and video evidence of unborn children literally torn limb from limb, when I hear the testimony of former abortionists such as Dr Anthony Levatino speaking about what an abortion actually involves, and when the statistics tell me that over five hundred children are slaughtered in the UK every single day using taxpayers' money, there are no blinkers large enough for me to hide behind.
To make better use of your own question, Kate: isn't it obvious that this isn't okay?
It is this bloodshed that spurs pro-lifers into action. My intolerance of this grave injustice led me, a shy young woman terrified of any form of conflict, to stand outside a 'clinic' (without any graphic images, you might like to know) praying and pleading that women, for all our sakes, would not go through with this nightmare. It was there, during my first attempt to counsel these women, that two very different experiences with two very different women reminded me why it is so very important for pro-lifers to be there.
The first woman was angry. I will be ever thankful to her that she tried to keep an even temper, but you could tell she was furious. She wasn’t going to the 'clinic', but was just passing by and decided that today was the day she would have the courage to confront us about why we were there. She told me that I had no right to be there, and told me to go elsewhere.
She told me I was harassing women for simply making a choice about their own bodies, and that we were harassing her every time she walked past and saw people standing there. She told me that an embryo wasn’t a child in early development, but that an embryo is just a "seed" and that children come from embryos in the same way that plants come from seeds. This unscientific assessment was made all the more troubling by the fact that she told me that plant biology was her field of expertise.
She then told me that she had herself had an abortion.
"I have no options"
When a woman tells you this, her ire begins to make sense. Her denial that abortion hurts women now sounded hollow. People who are hurt lash out. And she was hurt.
The second woman was conflicted. She had come to visit the 'clinic', and seemed determined to get inside despite pleas from a man I assume was her partner. Her English wasn’t brilliant, and she had trouble finding the right buzzer to open the door. She even asked me to help her get inside.
When I refused, she told me that she needed to make her appointment because she'd booked it now and so there was nothing else she could do. She told me repeatedly that she didn’t want to go through with it, but that she had no other option. She was almost on the verge of tears: "I have no options", she told me.
What kind of choice is this?
As a society, we drum it into women that abortion is their choice, abortion is their choice, abortion is their choice, until abortion becomes their only choice. When a woman is standing in front of you, repeating that, despite your offer of support of any kind for her and the child she doesn't want to lose, she feels she has no other option but to enter that 'clinic' and get rid of the life inside her, we are doing something wrong as a society.
Do we value mothers so little? Do we value people so little that we would condone this kind of coercion and even dress it up in the clothes of 'choice'?
Be "pro-choice" if you like, Kate, but at least have the decency to call a spade a spade. You are pro-abortion, and damn the choice. It’s all about fear and manipulation.
I will always maintain that abortion, also known as the deliberate taking of an innocent life, is not, and can never be, a legitimate and morally correct choice. That is why I am pro-life. But we have free will, and tragically women may still make that (wrong) choice. When they do, I will be there for them, fighting for them, offering them help to live a life free of lies and deception. That is an integral part of my pro-life work.
We do not help women by telling them that they can get rid of their baby, pretend it never happened and that everything will be okay. These two women taught me that. It is for them, and all the women out there like them, that I fight.
And you will not make me back down.
Laura was one of SPUC's 2015 summer interns.
Inspired by Laura's example? Sign our petition to protect pro-life counsellors NOW: https://www.spuc.org.uk/get-involved/campaign-with-us/buffer-zones