Our Lady of the Wayside

Our Lady of the Wayside
Protect Expectant Mothers and Their Babies


Thursday 29 November 2018

Respond to the Richmond Consultation on a Buffer Zone by 9th December - This Brave Mother Did!

Richmond Council is currently consulting on a Buffer Zone around the BPAS abortion Centre in Rosslyn Road, near Twickenham. The Council's Regulatory Committee met in October to decide whether to launch a Buffer Zone consultation. Alina who has challenged Ealing's Buffer Zone in Court (currently awaiting permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal)and Debra, a brave mum who was pregnant as a result of rape, helped by the vigil,  attended and gave their testimonies to the councillors present. Although councillors acknowledged the "emotional" stories that were told, the issues both women raised - of women coerced into abortion who may very well welcome an offer of alternative help and support - were ignored. Richmond Council's consultation ends on 9th December. Please go to http://behereforme.org/richmond-consultation/ to respond to the consultation with guidance to help you. You can read Debra's testimony here:

My name is Debra. I am of South African origin. In 2017 I found myself destitute, stateless and financially worse. I was homeless and ended up being raped through trying to find a safe place to stay. By the time I realised I was pregnant I was over 20 weeks along. I was very confused and was worried that this baby had been conceived in the rape.

I had no home, no money, no support whatsoever. I started wondering how I would manage. I didn’t want to tell those I was staying with, because I knew that would mean the end of my accommodation. So, unsure of what I wanted to do I rang the British Pregnancy Advisory Service where I was booked for an appointment in Richmond.

As I turned onto the street where BPAS is it was very quiet. I noticed three pro-life people opposite the BPAS building, just standing and praying. Across the road outside the building there was one pro-life lady just standing. The lady was standing by the gate as I was approaching, but she wasn’t obstructing the entrance. The pro-life lady already had her hand stretched out with a pink leaflet in her hand. This made it easy for me as I was drawn to it and wanted to see what was in the leaflet but also I didn’t want to engage in any conversation. The lady was very polite and quiet. I just took the leaflet from her hand, since it was clear she was handing them out. There was no talking involved I simply took it and proceeded to BPAS.

At the BPAS centre, once I entered my whole mood changed. I had to focus only on why I was there. As soon as the assessment starts it just straight to business. I was passed from one staff member to another, but none of those people were purely focussed on assessing my reasons and background which had led to me wanting a termination. I spoke to several staff as I had different tests and I would then move on to the next stage until my appointment finished. I just didn’t feel comfortable, as there was no set person to go through my situation and offer me alternatives. When my appointment in the BPAS abortion centre finished, I was offered dates for the abortion.

When I got home I looked at the pro-life leaflet and decided to give The Good Counsel Network a call. I was booked in and I told them my circumstances. They offered me accommodation and financial support, I didn’t believe it at first it was just too good to be true. Amazingly that was the case Good Counsel did provide the help they said they would. Their help meant I could have somewhere safe to live and go through my pregnancy whilst I was sorting my visa issues. I eventually gave birth to a healthy boy. I am so ever grateful to the lady who handed me that leaflet!

If the pro-lifer’s vigil were to be moved away from BPAS it would mean that women in my situation will be left with no alternative to abortion. Women like me will never experience the joy of choosing to have their baby. Women like me will be left with regrets, guilt and only a wish that if only there was an alternative solution they would’ve done things differently. 

Tuesday 14 August 2018

Clare's Speech to Thousands of Pro-Lifers at Parliament Square

“Over 9 Million abortions! What a travesty. What a total assault on children, on their Mothers and on their fathers too. A total assault on our society. How do I begin to speak in the face of 9 million abortions? I cannot even comprehend that number. I  cannot begin to comprehend it.

What are we to do? We stand here today as a tiny witness to this awful assault on life and we look around the broken society we live in. We look to the future and we see the threat of nationwide Buffer Zones, of women being sent home to take their abortion pills alone in their bedrooms crying into their pillows so that society is not troubled by their cry. We see the total decriminalisation of abortion – which really means the total deregulation of abortion, where even the shards of the laws designed to protect Mothers and babies are smashed out of the frame to allow the abortion industry a free reign. We see Nurses and Doctors’ freedom of conscience to refuse to participate in abortion being eroded, just like the children that are screened out by abortion.

I work for a group that has the dubious honour of having the first Buffer Zone imposed on our vigil. And I can tell you that standing away from the abortion centre, knowing that some women are entering because they have no other choice – knowing this not because it suits us to think so, but because hundreds and hundreds of women have told us this in the last 20 years - but being forced to not offer them any alternative at all is a particular form of suffering that our staff and volunteers are having to endure.

And yet through the other vigils we are at and through the work of our Counselling Centre, we see many, many women seeking help to avoid abortions they feel coerced into having.

This isn’t every woman’s story. There are plenty of women who choose abortion themselves. We pray for them. But their story does not negate the story of those with little or no choice.

In Ealing today it is illegal for me to stand within 100 metres of the abortion centre and offer a woman a leaflet even if it only provided a list of help that was available to the woman if she kept the baby and nothing else.

There on Mattock Lane, outside Marie Stopes, where a woman bled to death in a taxi after being sent away with a bleeding torn womb, we cannot even say a prayer.

I have spoken repeatedly about those who are not entitled to state benefits or housing – large numbers of these women are brought to the abortion centre by circumstances beyond their control and the abortion centre has nothing to offer them but abortion. We are there for them, with housing and financial help and moral and practical support. But there are others too, large numbers of women having abortions for someone else – usually a partner who is not ready, or who is not interested, sometimes mum and dad who just won’t understand. There are women having an abortion today because their contraception let them down and it just seems the worst of times to have a child.
For these women, love and support, real help that allows them to continue with their plans and yet not have to have an abortion, is a totally pro-choice – in the truest sense of the word – offer.

And yet this is now seen as the most offensive thing we can do.

Abortion advocates claim that abortion has few, minor health risks, but the same people claim that being approached politely and offered a leaflet or even just knowing that someone is praying for you outside an abortion centre can cause you post-traumatic stress disorder.

Several years ago we were contacted by a young woman who had been raped. She came to us really conflicted about what to do and she was in so much pressure to have an abortion. So many women we have seen who have been raped have been told by those around them to have an abortion and told, ‘if you keep this baby, I don’t believe you were raped’, and even the police have told them on a number of occasions "If you keep this baby were not going to prosecute the rapist" That’s actual testimony from many women we have seen. This young woman was really, really confused. She had a husband back home in her own country. She wasn’t sure that he would accept this child. She just felt she just couldn’t possibly go ahead. She had a couple of daughters and she always wanted a little boy and she wanted to call him Martin. She had never had her little boy and  now she was in this situation. With lots of support and prayer and real help and a place to hide and all kinds of support to give her different options as to what to do when the baby was born she decided to go ahead with her decision to continue the pregnancy. When the baby was born she decided to she was going to give him up for adoption. Her little boy was born on the Feast of Saint Martin and she called him Martin. She struggled for a few weeks about what to do and finally she went to an adoption agency signed all the papers to hand Martin over for adoption, and went home. Except she didn’t go home, the adoption agency had closed and she sat on the steps of the adoption agency until the morning when she could take back the papers and take back her son. With God's Grace her husband had accepted what had happened and accepted her decision to keep her baby and she returned home and brought her baby back to her family. This is what can happen when a woman has love, unconditional support, a place to hide, practical help, all the support you would give to your sister, you know like sister supporters do if you could. That is exactly what we are all called to do. It’s not just something for Good Counsel or 40 Days or any of the groups who pray and witness for Life. You know it’s something all of us are called to do to offer that love and support to those in need.

In 20 years, I have not yet met a woman who had from her early childhood wanted or planned an abortion. No-one wants to have to have an abortion. When women speak of wanting to have an abortion they are of course really meaning that they desperately DON’T want to have the baby. If they could be suddenly “unpregnant”, this would seem to be the solution. Unfortunately, the only way to make a pregnant woman “unpregnant” is to deliver her baby, dead or alive. Either one of those choices is going to have consequences for the woman.

If you understand what science clearly shows – that a little unborn human at 3 weeks of pregnancy has a beating heart. That at 7 weeks, brainwaves can be clearly picked up showing what we would call thought. That by 7 weeks, the enlarged ultrasound scan can show a tiny baby clearly moving in the womb. By 8 weeks, the baby has the foundations of all its organs laid down and by 12 weeks the baby has every organ developed and growing. Once you know that, you know that ending the pregnancy means ending a human life. Of course, what ending a pregnancy by abortion does is to make a woman the Mother of a dead baby.

If we believe this, we have to have a different approach to the topic of abortion than those who don’t know or are in denial about the humanity of their children. I once wanted to work to campaign for a change in the law on abortion. Somehow I ended up in the side of the pro-life movement which cares for and supports Mothers instead. But I begin to see that in many ways caring for Mothers who are considering abortion and giving them real alternatives does change minds and hearts. It is a very important part of changing the culture.

We need to show our commitment to this work. If we know what abortion really does, it is our job to witness this to our society in a loving way. We must put our hands in our pockets, our time on offer, our resources at the disposal of those offering help to women in unplanned pregnancies and then we can honestly say to women, “We think you are better than this. You deserve better than this. And your baby also deserves better than this.”

Today we are opposed by groups of people that seem to have a total hatred for us and what we are doing.  Why is that hatred there? Here we are in a country on the brink of legalising abortion for all or any reasons – at each and every stage in pregnancy. Why do these groups even care what we do? Why, when we have approaching 200,000 abortions each year do they care about our little March and our movement? Ask yourself that question and think about it long and hard.

They care because they sense something that we don’t even imagine. That there can come a time when abortion will be exposed for the attack on women that it really is, when no amount of marching or blocking the way will hide the reality of the poverty that abortion is. They sense that a time is coming when abortion won’t be seen as a choice, but will be recognised for what it really is – the wholesale killing of children and wounding of their Mothers.

When they stack the decks against us in debates, when they cover our posters, when they lie about the work we do, when they accuse us of harassment, when they shake their heads and say “Shame on you”, rejoice, because whether they are acting in good faith or bad, they can feel that something is changing.

It makes no sense for them to come out to protest our presence here. Here we stand – with the media not on our side, with our Parliament largely not on our side, with our laws totally not on our side. It makes no sense to protest us unless they fear that the abortion tide is already turning.

And I think they are right.

Don’t expect an overnight change, and don’t expect that there will be no setbacks, but with prayer and commitment and more prayer, we are beginning to change the culture. The persecution of those who try involved in this work will probably get hotter.

But do take note that abortions are dropping. That the number of women having abortions in England and Wales has dropped. That the number of women having abortions in London has dropped – while the population of London has risen by about a million in the same time abortions have dropped from 51,000 abortions per year in 2006 to 42,000 abortions in 2016. (9,000 drop)

Eleven years ago, in 2007, there were over 205,000 abortions in England and Wales. In 2016, there were just over 190,000 abortions which is a drop of over 15,000.

The number of women coming to the England from Ireland has also dropped from 6337 in 2006 to 3989 in 2016, a drop of 2,348.

We have also seen that where there is a regular peaceful, prayerful vigil offering help and covering large numbers of the hours that the centre is open, abortions drop there.

I have been told time and time again – even by Members of Parliament - that this is not true, that we scare women away with our tiny peaceful vigil, and that they go elsewhere to have their abortions. But it is in fact true. The number of abortions at the Ealing and Twickenham abortion centres has dropped by 13.5% and 17% respectively in the last years we have figures for.

And no, these women did not all just go elsewhere. I know because large numbers of them have come to us for a chat or a buggy or some vouchers or a bit of advice. And they have come back to show us their babies! Praise God!

This is happening. People are slowly moving away from abortion.

What must we do?

The first thing is to give your time, and if you are a believer your prayers. We need to have people involved in this peaceful witness to our society that this is wrong and that there are much better ways to help women. We really need large numbers of committed people to be out in all weathers praying and offering support to women while we still legally can! There is little use complaining about buffer zones if we don’t go and help at vigils anyway.

Commit to fighting these changes in the law. The new home secretary Sajid Javid needs letters from everyone here asking him not to bring in National Buffer Zones. And we need to be ready to oppose the decriminalisation of abortion to our own MPs.

In closing, it is great to see you all here today, witnessing to the fact that EVERY LIFE DESERVES LOVE. The Buffer Zones are a frighteningly totalitarian response to a peaceful witness. I regret bitterly each woman who misses the offer of help outside an abortion centre because of the Buffer Zone. But the even greater danger to the future of mums and babies, as well as to the elderly and disabled and to all those who are vulnerable is pro-life apathy. That is the Buffer Zone we have to fight hardest and for the sake of the unborn, the most important one to win.”

You can watch a video of Clare’s speech here

[Photos, Bishop Alan Hopes, formerly of Westminster leading the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants monthly prayer vigil at the abortion centre in Twickenham, where The Good Counsel Network now have a daily vigil. Clare speaking in Parliament Square]

Friday 10 August 2018

Another Courageous Mother Speaks Up In Support Of Pro-Life Vigils Outside Abortion Centres

“When I found out that I was pregnant, I was worried about having a baby because first of all I was here, in a foreign country and I just came here as a student and the father of the baby was not here. When I found out I was pregnant it was very scary.
When I went to the abortion centre, I was so confused and crying and then I said to myself, I need to think about this some more.

So when I went there I saw that on the other side of the street, there was a woman praying. The lady walked towards me and she said "Are you going for the abortion? I can help you if you don’t want to do it?". Then I said "What? You can help me?"  and then it just took me a second to say, "Ok I will go with you".
That lady was Alina – who you just heard speak [See below].  She was offered help and kept her baby and years later she came there to Marie Stopes to be there for me and my baby, and for other women like me.
That day she took me to the Good Counsel Network’s Centre' and when they told me about the help they could offer me I knew I wanted to keep my baby. And they did give me that help.
The day I was having my baby as well my Counsellor from Good Counsel Network, Iulia, came to the hospital with me. She was with me because I had a caesarean and she was with me in the operating theatre. She held my baby for the first time and I was so grateful for all the help. I’m so grateful first of all for them, if not for them it would have been very difficult for me. It’s so expensive to have a baby, a buggy is expensive and everything but when I needed these things Good Counsel have been there for me.
My daughter was born with congenital rubella infection. It has been quite a difficult journey with my baby, because after she was born I found out that she was blind deaf and she had so many problems. She had to stay in the hospital for 7 months before she came home. and she has many disabilities, but despite all I am so, so in love with my baby – I love her very much. She is everything to me. She holds my heart, she is the best thing that has happened to me. She is very charming and very lovely and I am so grateful that she is here.”                                                Aurelia
[You can see a video of Aurelia's speech here]

Thursday 9 August 2018

Pro-Life Speech at this year’s March for Life, in Parliament Square by brave Mother who challenged Ealing Council in the High Court

“I’m not a stranger to the emotional intimidation of just being pregnant.
I’m not a stranger to being made to feel ashamed and embarrassed by the person I least expected, just because I became pregnant by him.
I am not a stranger to facing a choice between my job and my unborn baby.

I’m not a stranger to walking into an abortion facility because I did not have support or the help I most needed at that time.

Alina outside the High Court with her daughter at the start of the legal challenge to Ealing Council’s Censorship Zone
I’m not a stranger to the pain, stress, the sleepless nights of being faced with an unwanted pregnancy, but still my heart cried at the thought of going to end the life of the one who was my child, my first child.
I had exhausted every option, searching the internet, asking for help from friends, asking for help from Marie Stopes but the only option I was offered by them was abortion.
I felt that this was the end of the world for me and yet from all that darkness, I met a counsellor outside the abortion centre who was offering me light. At last I felt hope, I felt for the first time that my child was wanted, not only by me, but also by complete strangers. For the first time I felt that I was not walking alone on the day I was meant to end the life within me - my child.
I found help right at the gates of “hell” – Marie Stopes abortion centre.
I cannot express the joy and how fulfilled I felt as a woman, as a Mother, to be given the chance to have my child, to hold her tiny hands, hear her voice, to watch her grow and turn into such a fine young lady.
It wasn’t easy, but with help and support given by The Good Counsel Network, I made it, my little young lady made it too!
And I am here to say that no woman should ever feel she is alone and without hope. Expectant Mothers should have all of the information, resources and emotional support that they need during their pregnancy – especially an unexpected pregnancy.
A just and caring society doesn’t criminalise people for offering help to vulnerable Mothers.
Women are smart. Women should have all the information that they need when making life changing decisions, including the information that Marie Stopes doesn’t want them to have.”        Alina

[You can watch a video of Alina's speech here]

Monday 18 June 2018

Summer & Longer Good Counsel Volunteer Workers Internship Programme

I have been amazed to find that nearly every day a woman outside an abortion clinic turns and chooses to take up our offer of help instead of going in for an abortion. 
Jess Almeida, Good Counsel Intern, now Sr Jess of the 
Sisters of the Gospel of Life, Glasgow.
Left Baby "Marla" whose mum chose life

Looking for an interesting and challenging project for the summer? Or for the next few months? Volunteer for Good Counsel's Intern Programme or the Summer Mini-Internship and learn how to take part in front line prolife work in a peaceful and prayerful Catholic atmosphere. It can be very hard work but it also has been extremely fruitful in terms of the number of babies saved and extremely fruitful in the lives of those involved in the programme. It has also been a decisive moment in the lives of some of our interns, helping them to discern their future careers or vocations. Some interns have gone on to work long-term for the Good Counsel Network, or for other pro-life groups. Some have discovered a vocation. Others want to take the skills they have learned back to their own countries or towns.
Interns working together

Full Internships (3 months)

Interns volunteer full time with us and have the opportunity to learn:
                How to start and run a successful Crisis Pregnancy Centre
                How to start and run a vigil at an abortion centre
                How to run a 40 Days for Life campaign
                How to advise and support a pregnant woman in a crisis
                How to remain faithful to the Catholic Church’s teachings in all aspects of your                       prolife work
Internships are offered for a 3 month periods. Interns live in London and receive a subsistence allowance, travel expenses and free accommodation. They live as part of a community, praying and working together. There are men’s and women’s intern houses.

 Interns socialising together

Summer Mini-Internships (4-6 weeks)

Summer mini-internships last from 4-6 weeks and provide a basic grounding in running vigils and basic skills for offering women alternatives to abortion, as well as a grounding in pro-life issues such as the law on abortion in the UK, the law in practise, foetal development and abortion.
Accommodation and allowances are the same as for the full internship (above). Mini-internships are available between June and September only.
If you are interested, please email fredathome2@yahoo.co.uk and send your CV or a covering letter with a brief outline of your work history, studies, plans and the reasons for your interest in the Programme.
More Interns working hard...

 “It was an honour to get to walk mothers through a difficult time in their lives. To help mothers who have had abortions towards healing. And it was an honour to get to hold the babies who otherwise wouldn’t be there. To be a part of the story of people whose lives are going to change the world somehow just because they got the chance to live.”
                                                                                               Charis, Good Counsel Intern

Clare McCullough

Sunday 22 April 2018

What to do about the Buffer Zone

In case you haven't seen the widespread media coverage, Ealing Council has set up a buffer zone outside the Marie Stopes abortion centre which will come into force on Monday 23rd April, the Feast of St George.
The scope of activity this buffer zone will ban is very broad, the PSPO (Public Space Protection Order) document itself says:

" The Activities prohibited by the Order are: 

i                      Protesting, namely engaging in any act of approval/disapproval or attempted act of approval/disapproval, with respect to issues related to abortion services, by any means. This includes but is not limited to  graphic, verbal or written means, prayer or counselling, 
ii                    Interfering, or attempting to interfere, whether verbally or physically, with a service user or member of staff, 
iii                   Intimidating or harassing, or attempting to intimidate or harass, a service user or a member of staff, 
iv                   Recording or photographing a service user or member of staff of the Clinic whilst they are in the Safe Zone, 
v                    Displaying any text or images relating directly or indirectly to the termination of pregnancy, or 
vi                   Playing or using amplified music, voice or audio recordings.  "
Obviously some of these points will make no difference to us (specifically iii, iv and vi) as we never did these things anyway, but now anything we do to offer alternatives or help to women who choose to keep their babies is deemed to be "disapproving of abortion". Of course it is no secret that we don't agree with abortion, but the act of offering alternatives is not in itself an act of disapproval, but an act of offering help to those who wish to avoid an abortion.
Any attempt to offer women a leaflet has now become "Interfering with" service users.
And our poster offering practical help and support is now deemed to be "text relating to the termination of pregnancy".

Ealing Council will allow a maximum of 4 people to stand 100 metres away (some say 150 metres away) on a small green verge which feels to be so far away from the abortion centre that it would be miraculous if any Marie Stopes user noticed our existence. In that space we have limited rights to pray, offer leaflets and display a poster (poster sizes are limited). But if we step off the verge, we would be in breach of the PSPO.

No doubt there will be some local anti-vigil campaigners overcome with glee to see this come into effect.

Meanwhile we have been contacted by one or two people offering to break the PSPO.

We are asking people NOT TO break the PSPO. Here are the reasons why:

We can see that the PSPO is a complete misuse and abuse of laws intended to control anti-social behaviour, not intended to crush charitable outreach, prayer and public acts of witness. We want to see this fought in a legal and law abiding manner. This is about the right of those women who want our support to be able to access it at the point of need, not about any one of us becoming a hero, or being branded a criminal. We want to fight it in a way that demonstrates that. We are law-abiding citizens and we want to fight for our rights and the rights of Mothers who want our help, lawfully.

Furthermore there is no evidence of anyone breaking the law at Ealing or indeed at any of the vigils around the UK. We want to keep it this way. It speaks volumes about who we are and what we are doing that our movement is law-abiding.

The world recognises that movements sometimes need to break the law to protect civil liberties in the face of unjust law. No-one questions the fact that some of the great civil rights leaders of recent history broke laws to defend basic human rights. However, it is prudent and right to employ every legal course of action open to you. And we believe and expect that the legal means of fighting this buffer zone will be successful.

What can you do to help?

  • Firstly, prayer. There has been a continual stream of attacks on our Counsellors since the "anti-vigil" group started coming and spreading lies about what we do. But this has increased in intensity and frequency recently and our staff and volunteers have been the subject of vitriol and physical assault on a daily basis since the 10th April meeting when Ealing Council approved the buffer zone. They are on the frontline and we need to pray for them and of course even more so for the Mothers entering Marie Stopes. 
  • Secondly, instead of offers of breaking the PSPO we need people to commit to regular hours at the vigil. Do you think we should abandon these women? Even if we cannot be outside Marie Stopes, we intend to keep up the symbollic action of being present as closely as we can (legally in the designated area). If you agree that we shouldn't abandon them, please commit to offering some hours of prayer at our vigil. You need to be in contact with our centre to arrange this via info@goodcounselnetwork.co.uk - because we can only have a total number of 4 people on the designated area so please let us know if you plan to come - but please DO come.
  • When you come, please abide by the rules of the PSPO and comply with what the vigil leader asks you to do, and please DO NOT bring posters of any kind. We are only allowed posters of a certain size (and an overall size of all the posters in the designated area is also specified) and we already have them.
  • If you can't come, please offer some time in prayer and/or offer a fast or some sacrifice for the women entering Marie Stopes, for the vigil and for the end of abortion.
  • We provide tens of thousands of pounds worth of support every year to women in difficult pregnancies. Please consider making a donation to help towards this see www.GoodCounselNet.co.uk/Donate
  • Write to your MP about buffer zones - the next stage of this battle will be the Government trying to legislate nationally for buffer zones. We will be giving you more information about the points to make on this shortly.
  • Attend the March for life in London on Saturday 5th May in London. This is a great act of pro-life witness and a wonderful, uplifting event where we can all learn about the fight to defend the unborn and about the buffer zone and what needs to be done to overturn it. Details available at www.marchforlife.co.uk

We hope you will be patient over the next few days as we respond carefully to the Buffer Zone, but whatever you think, do not think that nothing is happening, or that we plan to sit back and accept what has been done to prevent women in need accessing alternatives to abortion.

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