Thoughts on BPAS’s ‘We Trust Women’ campaign

I’m writing this post a little reluctantly because with heavy subject matter, it’s difficult to know where to draw the line. There have been times I have said something on social media I later regretted. On the other hand, I know sometimes I can hold back a little when it comes to what I talk about on my blog, because I am afraid of people’s reactions.

I guess that’s not very rational – one can choose to read my blog posts or one can choose not to.

So after a little internal debate, I thought this was better written down than left to fester inside.

Two weeks ago, I attended an event hosted by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS). (No, I’m not pregnant just in case that thought popped into your head, haha).

I wasn’t really feeling it – I’d just returned from a short break in Lisbon and the last thing I wanted to do was end the holiday mood by going to this thing, but I’d promised work I would go, so I went.

Few times in my life have I found myself in such a surreal situation.

The event was a panel of women discussing BPAS’s new campaign, ‘We Trust Women’, which seeks to completely decriminalise abortion in the United Kingdom.

Working for a Christian lobby group not only means that the people I am surrounded with on a daily basis are in agreement with me on the subject of abortion, but that I am essentially in a bit of a ‘bubble’. I may be up to speed on the arguments of our detractors but I’m not directly engaging with them.

So to sit there, one of a mere handful of pro-lifers in the midst of around two hundred supporters for this campaign, was an unusual experience.

I listened to secularists attack the ‘religious’ lobby for being ‘dishonest’ about what abortion involves; I listened to campaigners completely deny the humanity of the unborn child, and assert that there should be no restrictions on abortion whatsoever because, after all, we should ‘trust women’ to make good decisions.

I listened to a lot of rhetoric about how abortion restrictions are a product of the partiarchal society going right back to the Victorian era. I listened to them argue that decriminalising abortion would simply be another way of replacing laws made by ‘out of touch’ politicians with ‘more humane laws’.

Here are some quotes I jotted down during the event because I had to assure myself that I was really hearing these things:

“It is a fact of life that 1 in 3 women will have an abortion at some point in their lives.”

“Women need abortions in modern society.”

“Anti-abortion groups defend the rights of the foetus, which just don’t exist.”

“We need abortion to back up birth control.”

“We need abortion so that women can have lives that are full, not just simply being mothers.”

“It’s all about women having complete autonomy over their own bodies.”

“We need to decriminalise abortion so that women can get themselves out of the mess they are in.”

As you probably know, I studied English and American Literature at university, and the way it is taught promotes and encourages not only feminism but quite a left-wing political stance in general. I do not agree with all of it but I can understand where the arguments are coming from.

I also consider myself to be pretty independent and am absolutely in favour of equal opportunity.

But I saw at this event how strongly the ideology of feminism is tied to pro-abortion views, and how many people – mostly young women but a few men also – were buying the ‘autonomy’ and ‘liberation’ rhetoric.

By the time I left the building I was feeling quite sick and utterly grieved. It’s one thing to read arguments like this on the internet but another to hear them directly.

Looking back I wish I had spoken up. But I had been feeling tired and what I heard had made me so sad that I couldn’t speak.

So now I am writing about it, which seems to be a pretty feeble response, but it is a response nonetheless.

I think what struck me most was the selfishness of these arguments and the way they were cloaked in the guise of solidarity and in supporting and ‘trusting’ fellow women.

I listened to one young man ask about how he could get better medical training because his aspiration was to become an abortionist.

I felt the heart of the Lord during that meeting – both His love for those women and His grief for every life discarded, for whatever reason. ‘Convenience’ was a good enough reason for the women on the panel.

The line of work I’m in at the moment can be tough, especially on a sensitive soul like mine. I felt very small indeed after that event. I felt like these issues are too big for me. Yet I also felt a conviction about the heartcry of my God. He cares, so we should care.

I think that part of taking up your cross and following Jesus is to engage in the very things that make you uncomfortable. That will look different to different people, of course. But it’s easy to care about poverty. Nobody will criticise you for that. Nobody will criticise you for fighting to end human trafficking or helping the homeless.

But human thinking on abortion can be so contrary to what God says about life.

Around three thousand years ago, King David wrote this to the Lord in Psalm 139:

“13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.”

I can understand why being pro-abortion is common. As long you do not believe in a Creator, intentional design, purpose, and intrinsic value, it’s much easier to make the ‘choice and automony’ arguments.

There are many resources out there, however, that argue scientifically for the humanity and the ‘life’ of the unborn child, separate and distinct from that of the mother.

The pro-abortion campaigners will do everything possible within the power of language to dehumanise the unborn child, because it’s the only way abortion can be justified. And there are a lot of women who believe it.

Yet it is apparently the ‘dishonest religious lobby’ that seeks to deceive.

It is now two weeks since the event, and time offers perspective.

I remind myself that God’s got this. I do not need to feel like my convictions are just a subculture that must pander to a more dominant mainstream culture. My worldview is one of life and hope because I carry Life within me. I think as Christians we need to remember this – to maintain a mindset of victory, knowing we have Christ in us, the hope of glory.

We have good news to offer the world.

That includes how we engage with issues like abortion, if indeed we choose to engage.

May our motivation be love, always.

I believe abortion is wrong, of course, but I also believe in redemption through Christ.

My hope is that Christians who passionately engage with any sensitive topic would be known primarily for their love, their empathy and compassion; carriers of joy as well as advocates for justice.

So those are my thoughts. I don’t know what else to say but my prayer is that God will take these imperfect words and use them somehow.

If you consider yourself pro-choice, just know that I love you and do not write this to condemn.

Thanks.

7 thoughts on “Thoughts on BPAS’s ‘We Trust Women’ campaign

  1. Beautifully written! I especially love what you said here… “I think that part of taking up your cross and following Jesus is to engage in the very things that make you uncomfortable.” Yes and thank you for stating that truth so simply and boldly. Your stand for truth and love is so encouraging. Write on, sister!

  2. I share your feelings with respect to trying to determine whether or not to “go there” on any one potentially or actually controversial subject. Often, when reading blog posts, articles or comments somewhere, I find myself thinking: whatever happened to live and let live? Why can’t we just agree to disagree? I’m not religious at all, but some of my most enjoyable conversations have been with a very devout friend of mine. While we don’t share some very obvious views of the world and its origins, we are mutually respectful and still manage to find commonalities in basic human decency. I believe that the subject of abortion is distorted by both sides of the argument, which only does disservice to ALL women. While I am – and assume I will be for the rest of my life – fervently pro-choice, I resent the fact that many anti-abortionists seem not only to deliberately equate being pro-choice with being anti-life. Moreover, I also personally feel that the rhetoric of many anti-abortionists is a complete falsehood – especially in those extreme circumstances where people refuse to make allocations or exceptions even for cases involving brutality, rape, incest or other injurious circumstances. To say nothing of the fact that I have as yet to come across ANY anti-abortionist who (a) rather than merely chastise or belligerently denounce abortion, actually offers real-life solutions to prevent unwanted pregnancies; (b) actively engages in being part of such a solution. It never ceases to amaze me, for example, that someone has the gall to claim being a support of life while also clinging to the antiquated right to bear arms. In addition, why is it that, in the persistent rhetoric about the right to life there never seems to be any mention, consideration or examination of the quality of life? Why is it that someone feels the right to tell a woman whether or not she should be allowed to have an abortion – while offering no support, emotional/physical/financial or otherwise assuming any responsibility in the matter? It would be a welcome change of pace to see any of these people actually come off their moral high horse, roll up their sleeves, and actually do something positive instead of just being belligerent.

    • Hello!
      Firstly, I’m really thankful that you have taken the time to comment and engage with my post, despite coming from a different perspective. I appreciate that. I’ll try to answer the points you have made, not because I intend to pick a debate with you, but because I believe it is fair to discuss them, since you took the time to comment. Forgive me in advance if it gets rather long!

      On the subject of abortion, I do not believe that to ‘live and let live’ is a solution for somebody who takes the pro-life position. I can understand this mentality in the case of a human being making choices that affect only themselves, but abortion affects the life of the unborn child. That is precisely the point, and the reason why pro-life campaigners still exist – because they believe somebody needs to be a voice for the voiceless.

      On pro-life supporters equating pro-abortionists as ‘anti-life’: I understand where you are coming from, in that I don’t think those who consider themselves ‘pro-choice’ would identify as being, de facto, anti-life. Women have several reasons for supporting abortion and deliberately ending life for the sake of it is not one of them. However, from an angle that is purely logical: if you believe the unborn child is a ‘life’ (distinct from the mother), and you support being able to terminate a pregnancy (for whatever reason), then you are in support of ending a life, even if the motivation is ostensibly ‘good’. Those who oppose abortion believe, of course, that this is the fundamental point (as I said before), and so it must overrule the motivation. I would also have to use your argument to point out that those who consider themselves pro-life are not, de facto, ‘anti-choice’. Abortion, of course, doesn’t offer the unborn child any choice.

      This brings me to answering your next point about exceptions. I hope you’ll believe me when I say I have the greatest sympathy for anyone who finds themselves in a situation as horrific as rape or incest. I think the two primary counter-arguments, though, would be these:

      1) Ending the life of the child conceived through such means does not necessarily end the pain of the traumatic experience. The unintentional consequence of aborting for this reason is also that the child pays with his/her life for what happened. I do not believe this is just.

      2) In countries where abortion is basically illegal, some believe allowing abortion in such cases is a ‘slippery slope’, for campaigners will then push for increasingly liberal policies. Consider, for example, the case of the Zika virus in Brazil. Campaigners are trying to push for abortion to be legalised for those who may have contracted the virus, because of the risk of the child being born with microcephaly (despite the fact that microcephaly occurs in varying stages of severity and is not necessarily fatal, or even severely life-impairing). It would be naïve to think that if this were to be granted, these campaigners would not try to further liberalise the law on abortion.

      With regards to what you said about anti-abortion rhetoric, I do not know to what exactly you are referring. From your later mention of supporting the right to bear arms, I guess you are from the USA? (Forgive me if I’m wrong). Here in the UK, bearing arms is illegal (and rightly so, I and many other ‘pro-lifers’ firmly believe). You’re right that pro-lifers who support gun possession display hypocrisy in this regard. Anyhow, if you are not referring only to the US, please specify which points you believe pro-life rhetoric to be a falsehood, if you would like me to address that.

      To answer your final point about support rather than belligerence: Again, maybe it is because I live in the UK and my work is not solely abortion-related, but I have not personally seen ‘belligerence’. Additionally, counselling and support does exist (though likely not enough of it) to provide help for those with unwanted pregnancies. For example, my previous church that I attended at university founded one such charity, that deals sensitively with the issue, including compassionate counselling for post-abortion. Here: https://breathecanterbury.wordpress.com/about/

      That aside, I am truly sorry to hear this has been your experience. I also believe that quality of life is important. Simply ending the life, though, cannot be the ideal solution?

      But, thank you for raising the point of practical solutions. It is absolutely valid and is also my hope for a way forward. As a Christian I believe God’s heart is FOR women, not against them, and I do honestly think in many instances that the church has failed to demonstrate the heart of Christ on this issue. I am not here to defend all actions of pro-life supporters; rather to defend the cause itself.

      OK, I think that’s it. Sorry again for the length of this reply – I hope I have given a due response to the points you raised and that I haven’t bored you! Thanks again and I hope you’re well and enjoying your day.

      • You haven’t bored me at all! In fact, I think this type of discussion is far more productive than the often belligerent, insulting diatribes people can get embroiled in because this is, of course, a very difficult issue. I don’t know if I mentioned this in my previous comment but I have to admit that I consider myself lucky never to have been in a situation where abortion was even on my mind. I do think that there is a lot of understandable disagreement between the two sides of this issue not only concerning terminology but also because, to some extent, it boils down to a matter of perspective. As someone who clearly values her faith, can you imagine if the tide turned and people decided that because they don’t share your ideology, they should have a right to legislate it? Or, imagine the reverse scenario of a pro-choice woman. Imagine if a law were enacted that stipulated a woman is only allowed to give birth to X number of babies – after which she is forced to terminate any subsequent pregnancies. My point is that, for me, it comes down to what I feel is a violation of a woman’s body, plain and simple. If we stipulate that women do not have the right to be in command of their own bodies as pertains to reproduction, then you’re essentially turning a woman into nothing but a husk – a vessel to carry and deliver offspring. I completely agree with you that simply ending a life isn’t a solution, and personally I also disagree – despite being fervently pro-choice – with late-term abortions for reasons other than medical necessity. I do feel that our society is so torn on this issue that we’re sending mixed signals of no real value to especially young women. On the one hand, overly sexualized media, internet content and movies seem to suggest that even tweens should already dress provocatively and that a girl or woman is only valued as far as her sex appeal goes. I think a large part of the abortion issue would be remedied by adequately and accurately informing girls about reproduction, about taking responsibility for that aspect of being female, about contraceptives. But so much of the anti-abortion debate seems to come from people who are also against sex ed and contraceptives – which is so clearly demonstrated by the exponential incidents of teen pregnancy in areas that teach abstinence instead of sex ed. For me personally, I understand the ethical objections anti-abortionists have – but I feel that so much of the “dialogue”, if you can even call it that in many cases, centers around not only trying to prevent someone from making a choice for themselves and their body, but – again – without any adequate alternatives. First of all, I think it’s completely inhumane not to consider serious birth defects as a valid reason for abortion. To claim to be “pro-life” and then give absolutely no consideration for a child – who has no say in whether or not (s)he is born – and who is subsequently in constant pain and/or subjected to recurring, invasive surgeries – how can that be better than terminating the pregnancy in a case like that? And what I find equally egregious is the fact that so much focus is on abortion and trying to make it illegal – as opposed to spending more, or at least equal, amounts of time trying to keep existing children safe, well-nourished and giving them access to good education. How often do we read or hear horror stories about people molesting, abusing, neglecting and torturing their children? Until people who adamantly, virulently and often belligerently advocate against abortion actually bring some solutions to the table that deal with reality rather than philosophical, ideological disagreement, I feel that this issue cannot and will not be resolved. And ultimately, one way or another, women and children are primarily the ones who suffer the consequences. Thank you for giving me some food for thought, for your honesty and respectfulness of someone else’s opinion, and for giving me hope that there are still people who are able to engage in dialogue with someone who has an entirely different perspective.

  3. Interesting points made throughout! I’d identify as pro-choice, which i think is different to ‘pro-abortion’ – as I think having choice in our legal framework and social care structures is more supportive than a legal restriction or determination that is absolute. Choice and support helps to protect life.
    I think that education is vital in this area. Sex ed in schools, parents having frank and open discussions with their children, health care organsiations providing factual and non-emotive support and information – this would help people and communities. It is well documented that these areas don’t always hit the message or influence those targeted to receive it. So there are a lot of people out there who don’t understand the links between sex, relationships, pregnancy, abortion – etc etc etc.
    How to increase education? I’m all for discussion and engagement. Any venue or event that doesn’t promote open and honest debate or exploration/discussion etc is working against a positive outcome.
    What is a positive outcome? Not for me to determine. But if I was ever in the situation where abortion was part of an outcome in my life, I’d hope choice and support was close by!

    • Hi, thanks for commenting!
      As you will have gathered from my post, I cannot agree with you on the statement that choice helps to protect life. Support, yes – but not necessarily ‘choice’. As a result of this ‘choice’ in the UK (for example) over seven million lives have been lost to abortion since the introduction of the 1967 Abortion Act.
      I do agree that factual education is important, and I would suggest that in particular, education on abortion. I fear (especially after what I witnessed at this BPAS event) that abortion is being understood by many young girls as a last-attempt means of birth control. The reality, of course, is very different.
      But thanks for commenting, I do agree that honest and open debate is crucial.

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