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1 journalist, 2 Times articles on us, 10 years apart - what’s changed?

Times journalist, Rosie Kinchen, got in touch in August as she was writing a piece on the ‘anti-abortion’ movement in the UK in response to the US overturning of Roe v Wade. She was keen to discover the impact this US law would have over here.

Kinchen was very interested in our growth in numbers and wanted to come and see one of our Public Education displays again for herself. She had written about us ten years ago. So in preparation for meeting her I resurrected the old article online.

“We will shock you”, 2012

Written in 2012, this article’s title was followed with the description: “Trained by militant groups in America, a new strain of British ‘pro-life’ campaigner is targeting women on their way into abortion clinics”. The use of the word ‘strain’ stuck out immediately due to recent COVID episodes. I challenged Kinchen when I met her on why she used language comparing us to a virus! 

Kinchen’s style of writing is very descriptive. She paints the picture of what she observes in an engaging way:

“We are on one side of a main road; on the other is the entrance to an abortion clinic. Beside me the protesters are holding billboards showing enlarged images of aborted foetuses at 8, 10 and 11 weeks. The pictures are stomach-turningly gruesome, the dismembered figure clearly human — tiny fingers and toes visible in a mess of blood. On either side of us, facing away from the oncoming traffic, are two small signs warning of graphic images ahead.”

Kinchen describes us, using our former Abort67 name, as “By far the most radical group in this country”. Throughout history ‘telling the truth’ has always been deemed the most radical thing to do in regards to a structure of oppression and injustice. So as a student of the history of social reform, I will wear ‘radical’ as a badge of honour.

Two things ‘pro-choice’ journalists are determined to report on when it comes to ‘pro-lifers’ - their connection to America and where the funding comes from. I find it quite amusing now, and sure enough Kinchen was determined to report on both in her two articles.

Kinchen writes through the prevailing ‘pro-choice’ cultural spectacles of the time in 2012. Yet overall I feel the article was fair journalism - despite some leading and problematic language already mentioned, in her description of ‘pro-lifers.’ Also referring to us as ‘protesters’ is not accurate, as we don’t ‘protest’ abortion - we simply show the reality of it - and in the words of CBR founder Gregg Cunningham, “abortion protests itself”. 

It was powerful to know that in the original printed version of this article, our abortion images on the banners were shown - and would have been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people!

“Young, Christian and gaining momentum: meet Britain’s anti-abortionists”, 2022

Moving forward ten years to Kinchen’s recent article from August of this year, we are now described as a ‘wave of activists’ - an upgrade from a ‘strain’! Kinchen also notes that we are educated and she shares a little of our backgrounds as individuals involved in the work. It is refreshing as a ‘pro-lifer’, to be ‘humanised’ by the media.

This article also included the living and aborted fetus images on our banners - although this time the dead baby image was blurred. Still it sends the powerful message that if this “legal” procedure is too gruesome to show in the mainstream media - why then do we allow this gruesome procedure to happen? 

Times article display image

As well as sharing on her observations of passersby on the display and discussing public opinion polls on abortion and time limits, Kinchen also compares the two occasions of meeting CBR UK (Stephenson being our founder/CEO):

“The fact I haven’t heard much about the group in the intervening years (aside from the campaign against Creasy) could be seen as a sign that it has failed. But it isn’t quite as simple as that, because Stephenson’s other goal was to recruit a new generation of anti-abortion activists. When I met them in 2012, the group had a core membership of 50 people and an occasional presence in a handful of cities in the south of England. Today, they have 11 members of staff, nine teams across the country and 481 volunteer “educators” who hand out leaflets.”

Having had so much pro-abortion rhetoric written about us and our work over the years by multiple mainstream outlets (with a few professional exceptions), it is encouraging to read both articles side by side, from a journalist who largely just reports on what she sees. I respect Kinchen for that. 

No two Public Education displays are the same, and on this particular one - it was the first time outside St Pancras - a busy train station, all of our Educators were at different places of experience - but all trained in pro-life apologetics as well as how to conduct themselves on a display. We are extremely proud of every single one of them, giving their time and energy to educate the public on the humanity of unborn children and the reality of abortion. 

We are giving the public the visual truth of what abortion really is behind all the euphemisms, to hundreds of passersby, and whilst we don’t see complete turn arounds every display - for some it is a process of change. Such as the gentleman who after having a long discussion in Southwark defending the ‘pro-choice’ position, emailed to say he had since considered the facts and had done a complete 180 turn - now declaring that abortion is always wrong! Also remembering the young woman who approached me at a Department of Health display in Victoria to say thank you for being there, because months earlier she had seen our display and having since got pregnant and considered abortion, the memory of the abortion image in her mind made her reject it. Now she was 3 months pregnant, and so grateful for our display. We cannot even mention the changed minds we never get to hear about - but trust the seeds of truth are scattered and some will take root in people’s lives. 

The article concludes in a strange way, relaying an ironic quote from a US female medical student, during the display, disputing our leaflet’s claim of when life begins:

“It says life begins at conception but cognition doesn’t start until the third trimester. This is just bad science,” she says. “Do you have any idea what you’re talking about?”

Let me just leave this here:

"Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoon development) unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell called a  zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual."

Keith L. Moore, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 7th edition. Philadelphia, PA:    Saunders,   2003. pp.16, 2

You can read Rosie Kinchen’s articles in The Sunday Times, here: Young, Christian and gaining momentum: meet Britain’s anti-abortionists, 2022 and here: We will shock you, 2012 

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