Our Lady of the Wayside

Our Lady of the Wayside
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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]

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