LONDON, April 2, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An attempt to disrupt a pro-life prayer vigil attended by a Catholic bishop in London Friday night failed as peaceful pro-lifers calmly carried on praying while abortion advocates tried to drown them out.
With pro-life activists becoming ever more effective recently, the UK’s abortion industry is resorting to increasingly aggressive tactics. Plans by the popular Catholic bishop Alan Hopes of Westminster to attend the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil in London Last Friday particularly incensed abortion advocates, who staged a “noisy” counter protest, promoted by the far-left Guardian newspaper.
The plan backlashed, however, as the publicity stirred up interest among pro-lifers, but failed to win equal enthusiasm from London’s abortion supporters. Attendees said that, despite claims by the Press Association, the pro-lifers far out numbered the abortion advocates, with several hundred pro-lifers showing up.
“The large number of people who attended the prayer vigil shows that increasing numbers are opposed to our society’s ‘culture of death’ and are horrified that in 2010 almost 190,000 abortions took place in England and Wales,” said Bishop Hopes.
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Paul Smeaton, 24, who works for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children and volunteers with the Catholic youth organization Juventutum London, attended the event and told LifeSiteNews.com that it was “both uplifting and a wake-up call.”
“It was uplifting and wonderful to be amongst so many people praying for an end to abortion. Uplifting because of the courage of Bishop Hopes in leading the vigil in the face of such hostility.
“But the aggression of the opposition served as a wake-up call and a reminder of the urgency of the pro-life cause,” he added.
The counter demonstration was organized by the ad hoc group Bloomsbury Pro-Choice Alliance, who said they wanted to show the “tiny but vocal” pro-life groups that there is a “pro-choice majority in this country”.
They accused groups like 40 Days for Life of “increasingly mimicking the tactics of hardline US groups,” that have largely succeeded in bringing out significant reductions in the number of abortions in the U.S., and the permanent closure of hundreds of abortion facilities around the country.
Of particular concern to BPAS was the possibility that women who are approached by pro-life people might change their minds and opt out of abortion. “If bishops are getting behind this then I can’t see how it’s morally justified especially when women have already made up their minds,” Abigail Fitzgibbon, policy manager for BPAS told media last month.
Bishop Hopes, however, praised such outcomes, saying that the vigil “has enabled some women considering an abortion to change their minds.
“Such a change of heart that leads to the saving of the life of an unborn child, is a demonstration of God’s grace – an outcome to be welcomed.”
Citing the work of pregnancy charity Good Counsel network, Bishop Hopes added, “It is also important that practical help and assistance is provided for women who decide against having an abortion.”
According to its charter, BPAS’s purpose is to advocate and to provide the means “to prevent or end unwanted pregnancies with contraception or by abortion.” As Britain’s busiest abortionist group, BPAS is responsible for the great majority of Britain’s 200,000 abortions each year, and 80 percent of the late term abortions.
Last year, BPAS almost succeeded in its lobbying attempt to change the legal definition of medical “treatment” to allow women to abort their children using the deadly RU-486 drug at home without medical supervision. More recently, the group issued a statement defending the practice, apparently widespread in their facilities, though technically illegal, of sex-selective abortions.
Paul Smeaton commented, “None of the aggression mustered outside the abortion centre on Friday can compare to the violence of abortion. The vigil on Friday showed the strength of the pro-life movement when roused into action, and our great potential to powerfully oppose this violence.
“It is crucial for the sake of unborn babies and mothers that we continue to increase in determination to end abortion in England.”
Many pro-life attendees wrote about the experience on their blogs, and most were heavily critical of the “sloppy” handling of the event by the mainstream press. One, who blogs under the title “A Reluctant Sinner,” singled out the Press Association coverage that claimed the numbers were even on both sides, with “about 500”.
“In this age of mounting concern over press irresponsibility, it is quite depressing to see a once respected agency publishing an article that doesn’t seem to have been checked or corroborated,” he wrote.
“In fact, it only took me a few minutes to discover that many acts of intimidation attributed to members of the pro-life vigil by the PA, had, in fact, been directed towards them by the pro-abortionists.”
A photograph taken of the counter-protest by Dr. Joseph Shaw, a professor of philosophy at Oxford University and head of the nation’s Latin Mass Society, shows a small group of protesters swamped, and almost surrounded by praying pro-life people.
Published on the LMS blog, the photo (see above) shows the pro-abortion protest on the far right of the large crowd of pro-life people.
Dr. Shaw commented on his photo, “See that line of white posters people are holding up? That marks the front edge of the counter demo. That’s where the heads of the ‘pro-choice’ crowd ends and the pro-lifers begin.”
Read more of Dr. Shaw’s comments on the Press Association coverage