Pro-life group’s graphic display censored by foes, attacked by friends
ROME, November 9, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – The pioneering pro-life demonstration group Abort67 is making waves all over Britain with its photographic displays of aborted children, and they are being attacked by friend and foe alike for their troubles.
Fresh from their resounding court victories after being arrested last year for displaying the images in Brighton, Abort67 has moved on to a national platform with new groups forming around the country. Organisers have said that the publicity surrounding their case, including close coverage from the BBC and several national newspapers, was worth the trouble of the arrest and court case.
But not everyone in the pro-life community is pleased with the success of the graphic images strategy. After Abort67’s appearance at their campus, Bristol University Students for Life published an op-ed condemning and distancing themselves from the other group and the use of graphic images. The Students for Life mandate, they say, is the correct way to address the life issues, “from a secular and non-judgemental perspective”.
“Abort 67 and Bristol Students for Life both oppose abortion. That is where the similarities end,” the Bristol students’ group wrote.
“We shall be respectful, accepting and acting with the utmost tolerance towards both the society members, and members of the public regardless of background, opinion and creed”. The group says they have “unanimously rejected” the use of graphic images, saying they “do not feel it is appropriate or useful to cause great distress or alarm to others”.
Bristol Students for Life say they make the case with debate and argument and that they are willing to “engage with” opponents, so that “emotive and graphic pictures are not needed.” The group, however, condemned the arrest of Abort67 activists last year, saying they are “dismayed at the attitude of some British police officers” and that “protest cannot be a criminal offence in a liberal society”.
The Students for Life are thought to be reacting defensively to demonstrate their liberal credentials in the face of a counter-demonstration staged by the University’s students’ union (UBU). While Abort67 brought their graphic image display to campus the officially “pro-choice” UBU set up a banner in front of the graphic abortion display that read, “This union is pro choice”. University student’s unions around the Western world have a long track record of acting against campus pro-life groups and individuals who step out of line and make a strong case against abortion.
But Student’s for Life’s desire to distance themselves from such a high profile and highly successful activist group is not being well received by everyone associated with them. Rhoslyn Thomas, a former Bristol University student and organiser of Bristol Students for Life, told LifeSiteNews.com, “We were much more tolerant and sensible when I was there.” She was on the group’s organising committee for the academic year 2011-2012.
She responded to the accusations of her former classmates that the use of graphic images is counterproductive, saying that before Abort67 started using them, no one in Britain was giving abortion a second thought.
“If it upsets people then they are thinking about what abortion is, aren’t they? We’re upset by a lot of images, things that have happened in the past, like the Hiroshima bombing. Those are horrific pictures, but no one says we shouldn’t see them because it’s upsetting. But we know from that picture that it was wrong and how many people were hurt and killed by it.
“For some reason [the Bristol pro-life students] think people shouldn’t be forcefully reminded of abortion. But if you do nothing but talk about it, people might think it was just one issue among many. But when you see it, it’s much harder to say that it is just a ‘woman’s right to choose,’ because it’s such a horrible reality.”
She added a plea for civility and tolerance to her former classmates, saying that there needs to be a united front among the pro-life movement, or at least one of mutual respect. “Even if they disagree with Abort67, you can always find a way to disagree respectfully,” she said.
“Particularly other pro-life people whom you know have good intentions, and who have saved women from abortions. They’re not breaking the law, and they’re not hurting anyone, in fact they’re helping people.”
Pro-abortion groups have also reacted with outrage at the presence of Abort67 on Monday at historic King’s College, Cambridge. A group of students there brought home-made placards and stood in front of the Abort67 photos. Later King’s students brought out a flower pattern sheet to cover the photo display and disrupt conversations with passersby.
Similar actions were taken by pro-abortion counter-protesters at Abort67 demonstrations in Nottingham and Sussex.
The Huffington Post reported that students at Sussex University felt “distressed and intimidated” by the presence of the photo images and complained to each other on Twitter. The Student Rights group at Sussex said Abort67’s demonstration, held in late October, was “deeply concerning”.
“Students have a right to express pro-life views, but the detrimental impact that Abort67’s intrusive demonstrations have on students wellbeing, as well as on campus cohesion, should mean that they have no place on our campuses.”
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