Saturday, 6 April 2013

Bashing Cymbals in the Pro-Life Movement

I have always been convinced that the Pro-life cause was true and just. When I was younger, I always believed that it was wrong to deprive a baby of his or her existence and believed the issue was clear in its simplicity. As I grew older, I came to understand the terrible pressures that are brought to bear on some women that drive them towards abortion and whilst always convinced that abortion in any circumstances was wrong, I came to accept and understand that the apportioning responsibility for the action was not so clear cut. I also became far more aware of the terrible consequences of abortion on women, parents, families and society as a whole.

Supporting the Pro-Life cause has always been an easy decision for me, particularly as I knew many of the SPUC campaigners from my local area and knew them to be good and honest people. There wasn't any controversy - the Pro-Life cause was clear cut and everyone who agreed with it could get behind and this remained my opinion right until I finished university. It was only with increasing forays into England and increasing use of Twitter that that I came to realise that my view of the Pro-Life was was simplistic and completely wrong.

The Pro-Life world is one of internecine strife where individuals who should be brothers and sisters in arms are involved in ugly and sometimes personal exchanges of vitriol which I believe are damaging the cause and alienating potential supporters. Even when they are not arguing with each other, the language used by many Pro-Life leaders is belligerent and lacking in compassion to such a degree that I have simply stopped listening to them. In this, St Paul readily comes to mind "If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal" [1 Cor: 13]. 

In considering the root cause of this, I came to realise that the same difficulties have clouded other movements, such as those who support a traditional view of marriage. Whilst the causes may be just, the articulation of the arguments often leaves something to be desired. Internal bickering tends to lead to an escalation in the bellicosity of language (this is a particular problem on Twitter as the limited word count makes nuanced debate impossible) and this language is then projected outwards to the public. Again, I believe this is to the detriment of the cause and puts the battle for the hearts and minds at an immediate disadvantage.

I believe that part of the problem is the all encompassing nature of the work. Many of the people I have met in the Pro-Life cause are obsessed with the issue to the exclusion of all others. Though this is understandable because the cause is so paramount and personal, dealing as it does with the very nature of what it is to be human, I do not believe it is healthy. With such a myopic focus, the greater context of the human condition can be lost and it is only in this context that the Pro-Life cause makes any sense. The issue has to be addressed though the prism of love and compassion and this is sadly lacking in much of the rhetoric I have encountered.

I consider the problems I have encountered with the Pro-Life cause (which are by no means universal) to be a great shame because I also know from experience the various Pro-Life charities and movements do exceptional work in political advocacy, public outreach and and parental support. They literally save lives be it in reaching out women would otherwise have had abortions, counselling those who suffer from post-abortion trauma or providing support to struggling families. All this they do in often hostile circumstances which requires a bravery which is truly noble. I will always support the Pro-Life movement but sadly, I feel this will always be in spite of some of its members.


  1. Check out Abby Johnson's website - she's a strong one on all this and is doing a lot of good by pointing out and correcting uncharitableness. Personally, I have found the 40Days for Life campaigns excellent for uniting all the different prolife 'factions'. I also think prolife work without serious spiritual back up is part of the problem; people are very vulnerable to attacks from you know who.

    1. Thank you - Abby's website can be found at