Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Disgraceful harassment of women seeking abortions is supported by church

Yesterday I emailed the Jubilee Community Church in Worthing as part of an action organised by Abortion Rights. I asked them to withdraw the support they currently give to the Abort67 campaign group, which protests regularly outside the BPAS Wistons Centre in Brighton. The group have been taken to court for harassing women who were going for abortions in Brighton.

Today I received the following email from the church leader:

Dear Sarah

Firstly, many thanks for writing to me and expressing your opinion. As you are aware the issue of abortion is a very emotive issue, with lots of labels used, exaggerated stories and caricatures evoked which can be untrue and create even more misunderstanding, which I feel is unhelpful.

I’m not sure if you were expecting a reply from me, but as you have been kind enough to express your opinion directly to me, rather than simply listening to stories and feeling you can do nothing about it, I would like to take the chance to reply to you and explain why the church leadership at Jubilee support Abort67 in their aims and methods.

The fight for justice has a long tradition in the church, based on clear teaching from the bible that we should care for the poor, the overlooked and the most vulnerable in our society. It has been Christians shaped by these values that have changed countless wrongs in history, from the slave trade to civil rights. We look back with pride on them now, although at the time they were hated, mocked and misrepresented.

Here at Jubilee the leaders are convinced that justice is an issue for our time. We work among the poorest people in our town, feeding and caring for hundreds of people every year. Across the world, we work into the poorest areas, relieving suffering, bringing education and finance, and empowering them to find work and dignity.
Abort67 is not a church run project, it’s much bigger than that, encompassing people from different faith backgrounds and those with no formal faith. However, you are correct in your assumption that we as church leaders support what they are doing. There is no harassment, calling people murderers, or any such thing. What they do is show people the reality of what abortion does, and who it affects the most.
It seems to us that there are a lot of people looking to care for the vulnerable ladies who are pregnant, which of course we would whole heartedly agree with and actively look to support. However, there is no-one who is championing the cause of the unborn child. They are the most vulnerable people in our society, wholly dependant on those outside the womb, with no voice of their own to argue their case. Abort67 is a group of normal, caring people, some of whom have had abortions themselves, who believe the unborn child should have a voice. These children may not be as developed as you or I (and let’s face it, there are many in this world who are not as developed) but they are still human beings and as such deserve a right to live. Abort67 are giving the unborn a voice and not allowing the hundreds of thousands of deaths of these innocent children to pass by unnoticed.

I am aware that you will have heard the horror stories, and you no doubt believe that I am downplaying the aggressive nature of displays done by Abort67. Before we go our separate ways and you write us off as extreme fanatics, allow me to ask you one simple question. If all that you have heard about Abort67 is true, including all their ‘terrible’ behaviour outside of the abortion clinic, why do you think that so many women who have seen their photos have chosen to keep their babies? Intimidated and harassed into their decision? Unlikely, don’t you think? Perhaps they have seen something that they have never seen before, despite all the counselling. Something that shows them that their baby is a real human being, one that is worth saving.
Life is amazing. For all our sakes, let’s not pretend it doesn’t matter.
With best regards to you,

Colin Nichols
Church leader

I replied thus:

Dear Colin,

Thanks for your email. I sit here emailing you with my baby son playing on his mat and my 5 year old playing in the next room.

8 years ago I had an abortion and it was the right thing to do. There is such a big difference between being pregnant when you don't want to be and being pregnant when you do want to be. As a man you will never know this, so I feel I need to tell you that.

You ask why women changed their minds after being shown photos of abortions. It is because they have been guilt-tripped into believing abortion is a bad idea. Let's be frank, abortion isn't pretty, but unplanned pregnancies happen because sex is enjoyable. The alternatives to abortion for women who don't want to go through with a pregnancy - and pregnancy is HARD, believe me! - are backstreet, dangerous abortions or having a baby they may not look after.

Access to safe abortion is a right every woman should have. I do not regret my abortion though it was not a pleasant experience, and had there been protesters outside the clinic my day would have been so much tougher.


Sarah Cope