“Our way is the positive way. Our way is the one which gives hope. Our way is the one which protects both women and children”
These were the inspirational words of Life’s founder Jack Scarisbrick on Saturday at Life’s great relaunch event. The name of the event, Ignite, could not have been more apt for the occasion, and Jack’s words could not ring more true.
Prof. Scarisbrick was referring to the simple concept that the right answer to a crisis pregnancy can never be abortion. We were reminded of the following important fact: when woman are given real choice and real support, they, more often than not, will choose life. This is the reason that Life’s work is every bit as vital today as it was when Jack and Nuala founded the charity in 1970. In fact, abortion statistics demonstrate that there is an even greater need for Life now than there was 46 years ago.
In 1970 81,600 abortions took place in England, Scotland and Wales. In 2015 there were over 203,000. The number of abortions have doubled in just 46 years, meaning that the efforts of Life and the prolife movement as a whole must double also. It is crucial; there is no rhetoric involved in saying that hundreds of thousands of lives depend on it.
The aim of Ignite on Saturday was to act as the springboard for this redoubling of efforts; to herald a new era in the story of the prolife movement in the UK; to build up with hope the many stalwarts of Life and other organisations who were present at the event; and to build up with hope the many newcomers to the campaign for life equality. These aims were most certainly met.
It is the word ‘hope’ which springs to mind when I think of the speeches and presentations given by all those on the podium on Saturday. From Caroline Farrow’s moving account of her abortion nineteen years ago, and how she wishes today that there was support more readily available for her, to Cora Sherlock’s account of changing the hearts and minds of university students with a simple message of truth- all the speeches inspired and encouraged lifelong prolife activists and newcomers alike.
However, special mention must go to one delegation in particular. Pupils from Greater Manchester spoke on behalf of their school prolife group and were the highlight of the afternoon. They shared how their teacher had started up the group after giving a presentation on the value of human life. Each of the Year 9 students gave their reasons for being prolife, and how they had, already in the space of a year, started providing practical support for women -such as filling baskets with all the necessities for a new born, which Life could then give to new mothers and women facing unplanned pregnanciesthat have approached us for that sort of help. One student shared the heartbreak which her brother had experienced when his girlfriend had an abortion without telling him; a set of twins shared how they had remained as close to each other outside the womb as they had been when inside (as babies they were known to hold each other’s hands when lying side-by-side!), and another pupil had the whole audience chuckling with her humorous tale of arriving very fashionably late to the world.
This group of courageous young people received a standing ovation from the audience when they had finished and I have no shame in admitting that I was one of many who shed a tear or three in the course of their presentation. The cause of this was the simple message they gave: we believe that all life is equal; we are doing something practical to protect life.
It is this message which sums up well not only the mission of Life, but the mission of the whole prolife movement. In a country where more than one in five pregnancies result in abortion, the need is greater than ever to 1) advocate for the rights of the vulnerable, no matter what their stage of life and 2) to do something practical to help the vulnerable, no matter what their stage of life.
All people who strive for the protection of the unborn should be encouraged by the hope which flowed, not only from from the school prolife group who presented so movingly, but from all who were involved in Ignite on Saturday.
Along with the speakers, the passion of the people behind the scenes in Life was made clear in the course of the event. And, judging from my conversations with outside parties throughout the day, the passion of many in the prolife movement was set aflame.