As the pro-life movement around the world gathers momentum, it’s become increasingly important for pro-lifers to step out into the public sphere and live openly as advocates for the protection of life. In light of this, on Tuesday, members of the OSFL committee and guest speakers Stephen Barrie and Mark Bhagwandin formed a panel to discuss, and give our members advice on, practical ways to be pro-life.
Molly Gurdon, president of OSFL, opened the evening by pointing to recent events in the news – the legalization of child euthanasia in Belgium, the failure of the Estrela Report in the European Parliament, the controversy in the UK over sex-selective abortion, and the impending assisted suicide bill facing Parliament – and emphasized knowledge as the cornerstone of effective advocacy. One of the most important ways to be actively pro-life, she argued, is to be up to date on life issues, and to use social media to spread information and connect with other pro-lifers. Jo Jackson, OSFL secretary, continued the conversation by informing members about the different grassroots pro-life organizations in the UK; from charities to lobbies, there are a wide variety of groups working for the pro-life cause. Among these is the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, about which Stephen Barrie spoke as he discussed ways to be pro-life in the world of education. Well-educated pro-lifers, he urged, can make a big difference in public opinion simply by promoting and explaining the facts and arguments on both sides of the debate in a clear and honest way. Alisha Gabriel, OSFL publicity officer, spoke on interpersonal pro-life advocacy; being willing to discuss controversial topics in friendly environments, and arguing for the truth with confidence and compassion, helps debunk negative stereotypes of the pro-life movement. Mark Bhagwandin, of LIFE, ended the series by urging pro-lifers not simply to defend their views, but also to have the courage to share them in the media and in unsympathetic circles.
Dan Hitchens, OSFL treasurer and the panel moderator, rounded off the discussion with a quick-fire question to each speaker: in ten minutes, what can each of us do to be actively pro-life? Answers ranged from editing Wikipedia articles on life issues (to be fact-based and neutral) and responding to relevant articles to asking friends for thoughts on life issues, provoking others to consider their own positions, donating to pro-life organizations, and scouring the news for relevant current events. The night concluded with a wine and cheese reception (as is now OSFL tradition), which saw the sale of a few more OSFL t-shirts and a lot of lively conversation. Thank you again to everyone who came, the night was a great success!
As promised, here’s a list of the resources we mentioned at the talk:
Cardinal Winning Pro-Life Initiative: http://cardinalwinningprolifeinitiative.wordpress.com/
40 Days for Life: http://40daysforlife.com/
Alliance of Pro-life Students: http://www.allianceofprolifestudents.org.uk/
Care Not Killing: http://www.carenotkilling.org.uk/
Not Dead Yet: http://www.notdeadyetuk.org/
Living and Dying Well: http://www.livinganddyingwell.org.uk/
(Please note – with the exception of the Alliance of Pro-Life Students [and of course ourselves], OSFL is neither officially affiliated with nor officially endorses any of the organizations listed above)