It is the first time I have ever stood outside an abortion clinic bearing witness to the victims of abortion. As the day progressed, it became more and more obvious that the victims of abortion included the women who entered in those clinic doors.
I must say that the pro-life movement has a fine line to tread. We held a large banner showing what an abortion at 8 weeks actually looks like, and obviously, it looks as horrific as it is. It is the terrible truth about abortion shown in its true graphic light. I couldn't help thinking, though, that although the image itself is powerful, thought-provoking and hard-hitting, that it would serve better to be displayed on the other side of the building, where cars lined the streets at the traffic lights on the Dyke Road intersection.
A man early on in the day approached us and said, "Why are you here with that image? My girlfriend is making a difficult decision here today? She's had to enter by another access point to avoid you." I replied that it was not a 'difficult' decision but a terrible one and as he went past us asked whether he would like to talk about it. Of course, he didn't. While I did not have much sympathy for his cause, it became more obvious as the day progressed that bearing an image of the truth about abortion at the entrance to an abortion gate does not make the pro-life vigil approachable. People already believe that the pro-life lobby is 'militant' and such imagery conjures up the kind of anger within people that 'anti-vivisectionist' people inspire because all they care about is animals.
In other words, the image may be true, but, if someone really had doubts about whether they wanted to go ahead with an abortion, would they really want to talk about it with you, if you are standing there holding that image? It has, according to the group, turned away some people in the past, but my overall feeling is that the pro-life movement needs to be open hearted and open to those who are going in to the clinic. They have already made up their minds. If there is any way their minds will change, you have to be accessible and approachable.
The image is helpful in itself in raising awareness more generally, say on the other side of the road, so that the passing general public can see the horror and, presumably, either agree or be very offended by it. It serves to shame the abortion clinic and all the so called 'doctors' and nurses who work there and cuts through the lies they tell, their deceit as they try to deny the humanity of the unborn child.
Later on in the day, the man came out of the clinic with his girlfriend. They sat near the door, the woman too scared or ashamed, I guess, to come out the entrance where the pro-life vigil were stood. There they sat, the woman, clearly terribly traumatised by what had taken place within those walls, realising what she had allowed them to do, realising the full gravity of what had taken place, and wept into her boyfriends arms. God alone knows what was going on in their lives. It was clear that what had taken place there on Tuesday would remain with her for the rest of her life.
I also saw another young woman, on her own, walk out of the clinic in tears. Abortion is murder, yes, but these women are consistently lied to by the British Pregnancy Advice Service about what abortion is, about its safety and its effects. The effects of abortion are devastating. Perhaps the most shocking thing I saw was a 15/16 year old girl being frog-marched into the clinic by her own mother. Horrendous.
The best pro-life vigil would be one in which those who are standing outside are largely women. Secondly, those who know best about the tragedy of abortion are those women who have had abortions and regretted it deeply. This is, I know, an issue that affects most closely the unborn child whose life is destroyed, but it is a women's issue. If women are going to be persuaded by anyone that the unborn child is a human life, is a baby, a baby they will regret having 'terminated', then it is by other women who now mourn the life that was once within them. These are the ones who have the experience of abortion at first hand. Their witness will convince people.
The other great weakness of the pro-life movement, or at least the one I encountered on Tuesday is a presentation of alternatives to abortion. Just saying, "This is terrible!" does not offer women an alternative to abortion. Where are the leaflets providing information to charities and organisations who can help women, like the Good Counsel Network and the Life UK charity, who provide practical assistance to those in distress?
Overall, however, a visible presence, however poorly equipped to deal with those coming in, are, at least, a Christian witness to the rights of the unborn on whose behalf few are fighting. Women during an abortion procedure, are unable to see the 'contents of the womb', the unborn baby, the foetus, the human being who dies at the hands of the 'doctor'. The doctors and nurses see it! They don't wear blindfolds. The doctors and nurses know that this is a life. They know that this is a human being. They know that this is a baby and they should not kill it. The doctors do not allow the 'patients' to see what has taken place, because it is a 'surgical procedure'. These doctors continue to murder callously, every day, the babies of vulnerable women in crisis. This song, that I wrote a couple of years ago, is for those doctors. To procure an abortion is a terrible sin, as we know, but the guilt of the doctors who destroy the lives of innocent human beings and their mothers, is far, far greater. Murderers!