Saturday 17 September 2011

SPUC's youth activists are creating a bright future for the pro-life movement

SPUC's 2011 annual national conference started yesterday evening with inspiring and impressive presentations by SPUC's youth activists, who are creating a bright future for the pro-life movement.

Anne Howard (pictured) told us that she was inspired by the SPUC international youth conference to begin a pro-life society at her university. Anne spoke about how a confrontation with the feminist society strenghtened their resolve to continue their pro-life work.Students for Life plan to launch an online pro-life resources with video answers to difficult pro-life questions and are beginning to compile these videos at this weekend's conference. Bristol Students for Life have had a very busy year: organising several excellent pro-life talks in the past year and attended two pro-life conferences in the past year.

This year SPUC has had three full time interns working with us over the summer months: Daniel, Anna, and Frances. The interns told the conference about their work with SPUC defending life.

Daniel spoke about SPUC's pro-life Outreach at Lewisham People's Day this July. Lewisham People's Day is London's biggest free festival and attracts 25,000 people a year. Lewisham has one of the highest abortion rates in the UK. As far as we know, this was the first time there has been a pro-life presence at the festival. Daniel spoke about how intelligent people at the day seemed to know very little about child development in the womb. Many people came to ask for more information. Daniel told us about the criticism the group received from a feminist group. On the same day Diane Abbott MP gave support to the abortion rights protest outside parliament.

Daniel told the conference that despite the work being difficult and the issues being of the utmost urgency, there was a happy light-hearted atmosphere within the group running the outreach. Daniel spoke about the surprise other young people displayed that people under thirty-five were opposed to abortion. Daniel said he feels as though there is a danger of complacency within the generation who have grown up with abortion as a norm. He said that while many people of his generation consider abortion to be wrong, they cannot imagine a world without it. Daniel said that despite never knowing a society without abortion he is confident we can return to being one without this evil.

Frances and Anna spoke about SPUC's new campaign in a London area particularly affected by abortion. This situation has been made worse as a major abortion provider has recently opened a new clinic in which they are already performing abortions. The first stage of the campaign began with an educational outreach similar to that conducted at the Lewisham People's Day. The general public were informed about the reality of abortion through leaflets, foetal models and conversations with the volunteers distributing the information.

During the outreach the public was made aware that a new abortion facility had opened. Prior to the outreach two members of the campaign team went to talk with a local councillor to raise their concern about the new abortion facility. He told them that he wouldn't speak to them because they were not constituents. This encouraged them to make sure they made an impression on local constituents!

During the outreach the group were struck by the fact that nobody to whom the group spoke knew about the new abortion centre. They had many positive conversations with members of the public, a number of whom signed up to receive more information.

Following the outreach campaign the SPUC interns turned their mind to what political action they could take. Their aim was to encourage residents sharing a building to oppose the opening of the abortion centre. Before they did that they wanted to learn how much the residents already knew. The new centre is located in proximity to a block of residential flats and had previously been used as offices.

The group discovered that the residents had been sent a single letter notifying them that the offices were being converted into an abortion facility. However, the letter sent from the Council did not inform residents that the facility was an abortion clinic - it was simply described as a clinic. In fact there was no mention of the word abortion on the letter.

They did a door to door campaign speaking to residents at the clinic. Of all the residents only one of them was aware what was being opened next to them, thanks to the letter the SPUC campaign team sent to the residents. Every person they spoke to objected to an abortion clinic in their building. Some for pro-life reasons, some for practical reasons.

Anna told us that having obtained the planning permission documents they identified that there was a good chance they would be storing their waste in the same bins as residents at their shared tower block. SPUC wrote to thirty two churches in the surrounding area. One of them was Alan Craig, a former councillor and Party Leader of Christian People's Alliance. He has generated more support within the church, media, and political community.

SPUC called all the residents in the tower block, encouraging them to write to their MP, their councillors and the council planning department. They brought a ready-made letter to be sent to their local MPs. Eight residents signed it on the spot. Planning permission strongly suggests that waste from the abortion clinic
would be stored in the same waste as is used by the local residents.

An examination of the Care Quality Commission reports indicate that two major abortion providers fail to meet the mininum requirements for 'care'. Despite being registered to perform abortions on girls as young as twelve, these providers frequently fail to meet minimum standards for child protection and fail to train their staff in child protection awareness.

The interns explained that their experience of running the campaigns has helped them to realise both the scope of the pro-life battle and the possibility of making a real difference through careful, strategic political action.

The presentations were followed by some well-deserved socialising in the bar. This morning we've heard from Joe Lee of SPUC Scotland, who detailed SPUC's busy schedule of youth activism in recent years; and Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, on the background to euthanasia in the UK. Right now we are listening to Bobby Schindler about the euthanasia death of his sister Terri Schiavo. Do stay posted to this blog - I'll be posting throughout the day.

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