4 1 BELIEVE wE...have been terribly served by many of the pro life groups," wrote Dr Martin Lupton in these columns recently. "The language and methods they have used have turned the term `pro-life' into an aggressive, unflinching, unsympathetic accusation." He had just given the example of a woman who turned up at a pre-election meeting he had attended, who had shouted at the pro-abortion shadow health secretary Frank Dobson that he was a "baby murderer".
But this kind of behaviour is a caricature of the pro-life movement. Here at LIFE we do not go round shouting "baby-murderers" at pro-abortionists. Nevertheless, the truth has to be told. Revealingly, the photograph which was used to illustrate Dr Lupton's article showed pro-lifers displaying boards which simply said "abortion kills babies". That is an exact calm statement: no mention of "murderers" and nothing emotive or threatening. It is difficult to find a calmer Anglo-Saxon word to define what happens than "kills".
I cannot speak for a lunatic fringe which may lurk on the edge of some pro-life movements. All I can say is that pro-life organisations throughout the world are dignified and unprovocative. If they march, they march in silence. When they speak, they do so responsibly and charitably.
We deplore the violence of which a tiny handful of "prolifers" in America have been guilty. As far as I know, none of them was a member of any major pro-life organisation. But if we're talking about violence just take a look at the violence — verbal and physical — of which the militant pro-abortion lobby has so often been guilty: the frenetic chanting, the often successful efforts to drown out pro-life speakers in a university or college, the physical assaults. Abortion itself is a violent response to problems that can and should be res olved with love, care and support. Many people, including Christians, do not know the truth about what abortion does not only to the unborn child, but to the mother, the father and indeed all involved.
LIFE's own after-abortion counselling service has heard the witness from at least 10,000 aborted women about their difficult and dark feelings of grief, loneliness, longing for the aborted child, alienation from family, inability to make secure new relationships.We have counselled men who grieve for their lost aborted child.
Many people do not know that abortion causes physical damage to women. There is much evidence that induced abortion is linked to breast cancer. A leading world expert, Professor Joel Brind, told the LIFE National Conference last weekend about the incontrovertible evidence for this. Abortion is linked to subsequent difficulties with conceiving, and even with infertility.
We have to tell our fellowcitizens these truths, calmly and charitably, without fudge or compromise. We have to tell them that every time a pregnancy is destroyed a real living human being loses his or her life and a woman's dignity and integrity are violated.
It would be easier quietly to pretend these things were not happening. But they are. And we must say so. But again we have to speak and act in a non-violent way, loving the sinner while hating the sin. That is what our educational work does. I invite Dr Lupton to look at our literature and watch LIFE's own videos. I think he will be surprised by their tone.
THE PRO-LIFE MOVEMENT in the UK has frequently -made well-publicised attempts, with the help of brave MPs and peers, to amend the Abortion Act, as Dr Lupton suggests, to no avail. I'm surprised that he has not heard of these Parliamentary efforts.
We are also surprised that he has not adverted to the work of the LIFE pregnancy care service which has been operating for nearly 30 years: he seems to think that Cardinal Winning's admirable initiative is the first attempt to help women facing a crisis pregnancy.
LIFE has 132 care centres up and down the UK and 40 houses, all supported by local LIFE members. Last year our care service handled about 80,000 calls for help. Glas gow LIFE alone every year cares for about six times as many women as the Cardinal supported. Our National Hotline, open 12 hours a day, is in constant use. Our Gemma fund has distributed thousands of pounds. People who ask for LIFE's help come from all social economic and ethnic backgrounds.
Over the last 29 years we have received about one and a half million calls for help. Among these were the really hard cases: women and girls pregnant as a result of rape, abuse and incest; couples told that their unborn child is disabled; mothers as young as 12; mothers in their midforties. We have accommodated over 3000 women and children before and after birth in LIFE houses. Claims about "babies saved" is often cringemaking. But we can honestly say that there are many thousands of young people and children alive today who, if LIFE had not been there at a crucial moment in their mothers' lives, would probably never have seen the light of day. And there are many thousands of women who have been able, thanks to LIFE, to escape the pressures and freely choose the pro-life way.
The pro-life movement worldwide gives similar loving care to desperate and vulnerable women. One exciting result of the fall of Communism is the growth and influence of pro-life organisations in Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, the Czech Republic, and now Russia.
We invite Dr Lupton to find out about all this — most of it done by unpaid (but trained) volunteers. We invite him to hear about all the post-abortion counselling we are doing. We invite him, to visit the LIFE Health Centre and Zoe's Place, the first baby hospice in the world, and our pro-life WellWoman programme.
Perhaps he will then do a bit of what he says he does not like, namely, "shouting from the rooftops". But then it will be shouting the full Gospel of Life. His voice is desperately needed. His skills as a gynaecologist are desperately needed by LIFE in our Well-Woman and fertility programmes.
We urge him to refer troubled pregnant women to LIFE. We urge him to invite a LIFE speaker to discuss the ethics and alternatives to abortion with his colleagues. Finally we invite him to become a member of LIFE.