Earlier this week I discovered the ‘Society for the Protection of Unborn Children’ (SPUC) were holding anti-abortion protests across the UK on the 44th anniversary of the Abortion Act. One of these was to be held in the city of Bath and as I am local and pro-choice I decided to organise a pro-choice counter demo to show that not everyone agrees with SPUC’s views on abortion (not the mention their views on gay marriage, contraception and more).
I discovered there were other pro-choice counter demonstrations being organised in Edinburgh, Newcastle and elsewhere and copied their method of marketing by making a Facebook group and tweeting about the event as much as possible. Word soon got around and this morning I found myself as part of a twenty-four strong group of pro-choice demonstrators old and young, male and female, standing united outside The Curfew Inn on London Road in Bath opposite a long line of pro-life SPUC protestors.
I had never heard of SPUC before this week but a look on their website set me on edge as it’s full of appeals to emotion and misleading statements. Not only that but it also hosts offensive sentiments. For example, they refer to marriage between a man and a woman as ‘real marriage’. They align themselves with organisations such as ‘Anglican Mainstream’ who recently made headlines over their own offensive homophobic bus adverts, and SPUC claim on their website:
SPUC, in common with Anglican Mainstream, Catholic Church leaders in England and Wales, Family and Youth Concern, and other bodies, is working with the Coalition for Marriage (C4M) to oppose the British government’s plans to legalise same-sex marriage.
Not only are SPUC offensive when it comes to gay marriage, but throughout their site they imply that people who have abortions do so in a flippant manner, because they don’t care or are careless. They suggest that women abort babies because their contraception has failed or that people abort disabled babies because they’re uncaring and don’t want the ‘burden’ of a disabled child – but these decisions are never easy, and making it sound like women use abortion as an ‘escape’ is extremely condescending and offensive.
Legalised abortion has led to increasing contempt for newborn babies who are disabled. Some doctors in Britain have admitted killing disabled babies by methods including sedating and starving them to death – SPUC
Their placards read such delightful statements as ‘Abortion – a baby can live without it’ & ‘Abortion – one killed, one wounded’. They lined the road with their placards facing oncoming traffic.
We stood in a large group on the opposite side of the road to them and had a range of hand made signs – the signs I made read ‘Y U NO LET WOMAN DECIDE?’, ‘May the choice be with you’ with a hand drawn picture of Yoda, and one that read ‘Insert: pro choice, pro-woman, anti-misogyny comment here’. Others read ‘if men could get pregnant abortion would be sacrement’, and others simply stated the powerful message of ‘keep abortion safe and legal’. We also had ‘pro-choice mama’ and ‘pro-choice baby’ and had signs asking the passing traffic to ‘honk if you support the right to choose’.
It was interesting to watch the passing traffic first get a glimpse of the SPUC signs, and then catch sight of ours as they moved down the road a little bit, to which they would often honk, applaud, put their thumbs up or make peace signs with their fingers. I hope it also demonstrated to the SPUC supporters that most people don’t agree with them (but they could probably tell that already from the manner in which people jeered and swore at them, which I thought was a bit cruel, but there we go).
Their main concern is the right to life of the unborn ‘child’ and they believe that life begins at the moment of conception. Scarily, I discovered that their influence on society reaches as far as our schools. On their website they say:
In addition to the fetal models project, SPUC has developed a range of educational material, primarily to meet the needs of teachers and school students examining pro-life issues as part of their curriculum. Project packs, sent free to students and teachers on request, are available on abortion, population issues, IVF and embryo experimentation, and euthanasia. Videos may be bought or hired from the society, and a list of current publications is available.
SPUC also offers schools the free services of trained speakers to give slide presentations on the humanity of the unborn child and the issue of abortion, or to show a video, or to take part in a discussion or debate. If the school wishes, a representative of the society will discuss the programme with the teacher in advance and agree the selection of visual aids to be used.
How many children will they have potentially misinformed with their belief-led propaganda about women not being able to choose what to do with their own bodies? Most shockingly of all though I found the following quote on their site:
SPUC organises public events to raise awareness of the loss of life and harm to women brought about under the Abortion Act.
SPUC are hypocritical. They have decided that life begins at the moment of conception and that a sperm and an egg are a child (which is not entirely factual.). They prefer to refer to abortion (most of which take place in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy) as the ending of a life – a life that they want to protect. However what they fail to mention on their placards, or what they completely ignore altogether is the fact that making abortion illegal will not stop abortion. It will drive women to back street abortionists and back street abortions are extremely dangerous for the woman and the child if the abortion is not successful.
I found it extremely disturbing that the SPUC placards read ‘Abortion – one killed, one wounded’ when, in reality, if they got their way it could be ‘two killed’ or ‘two wounded permanently’. Perhaps SPUC just don’t want to face the reality of the alternative they seek to implement? This is why it is hard to take them seriously – only I do, because they and others like them have disproportionate influence upon those have the power to make changes to the law in the UK and so they must be taken very seriously indeed. That’s why it’s important for people to counter what people like SPUC, Anglican Mainstream and other such organisations promote.
The Pro-life movement within the UK is becoming a lot more vocal and I those of us who are pro-choice and share concerns over the influence that the religious right have on society need to be very observant right now. It would be unwise to pass people like SPUC, Anglican Mainstream and others as just small groups that don’t represent all Christians.