Thursday, 15 November 2012

The fight continues in East London

The pro-life fight in East London continues. Last Saturday (10th November) the Helpers of God's Precious Infants held their second vigil outside the Bpas abortuary in Stratford. The campaign against Bpas in Stratford has been going since August 2011 (see the links at the bottom of this post). It has involved several pro-life groups, local residents, Catholics, Evangelicals, Muslims, and people of no religious affiliation, consultant doctors, paediatricians, GPs, nurses, medical students, barristers, the retired, retail assistants, tradesmen, office professionals, mums, dads, grandparents - people coming from every walk of life. It has received wide coverage in the Guardian, the Newham Recorder, Islamic news outlets, blogs, websites, and Christian Radio.

We learnt a week before that a pro-abortion counter protest had been organised by a casual group under the name "Newham: Abortion, a woman's choice". This group began with a Stratford street stall in support of the Bpas centre, and was later advertised at an Abortion Rights meeting in Westminster. Emails were sent by pro-lifers encouraging people to make a special effort to come to the vigil for the unborn and their parents. It was short notice but the turnout was good.

I set off early on Saturday morning, and headed to Stratford via the DLR and tube. I learnt by the end that one woman had travelled all the way from Southampton! The day started with Mass (the Helpers group is a Catholic pro-life apostolate). After Mass we set off. We processed through the street, praying the rosary. The procession was headed by a very large image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

We were about 50 in total. When we arrived at the Bpas abortion facility, the pro-abortion demo was already there outside the Bpas, which was closed that day. However, a handful of pro-abortion demonstrators were standing behind a police van in the location agreed for our vigil, so we had to stand further away down the road.

One of the pro-life vigil organisers informed the police that a counter-demo had been organised. On the day, the police were asked whether the pro-abortion demonstrators had applied and received an official permit to hold the demo. The policeman replied "that's none of your business". Make of that what you will. If the pro-abortion group didn't ask for a permit, it wouldn't surprise me, as we witnessed a whole series of very unprofessional and ill mannered displays by them on the day. The prayer vigil was conducted peacefully, calmly, and without fuss. The footpaths were always kept clear for passersby. The police didn't stand anywhere near us the whole time. Instead, they stood by and around the pro-abortion demonstrators for the entire time, and even parked their police van in front of them. There was 25-30 of them in total, so we managed to outnumber, and certainly out-pray, them.

Head of the procession with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Side photo of the prayer vigil. Well ordered, polite, prayerful, focused. 

About 5 pro-abortion protesters surrounded by 3 police and a police van.

The main pro-abortion group outside Bpas, about 25 in total.

They had to be told several times to stop blocking the footpath. They had placards, a large blue banner saying "Tower Hamlets: British Medical Association", and a megaphone.

It was appalling that they spent several hours from 9.30am - 11.30am screaming and shouting through the megaphone, chanting, swearing, and being obnoxious. They were right under the windows of the homes of people who live in the block. These are people with "complex needs" like mental ill health, disability, addictions. Moreover, some of the people have small children. What utter lack of consideration

The irony of a mother and father with their small child in a pram passing by people who have taken the time to protest in favour of killing children. 

One of the organisers of the pro-life prayer vigil kneels down to pray, which is done while the group meditates on the death of Jesus on the cross. Not content with spewing profanities against people across the road praying, not content with complete disregard for the people living in nearby homes, not content with defending the wicked killing of innocent unborn children, they decide to turn their noise against an elderly man praying.
 Here he is, praying. Who knows what went through the minds and hearts of those people demonstrating for abortion? It must have been a powerful contrast for them and the police to witness

Side view of the prayer vigil. You can see the police and the police van surrounding the pro-abortion demonstrators. That was the agreed location for the pro-life prayer vigil, but they got there first. The pro-lifers sang a few hymns - no disturbance to the local residents as we were across the road and largely drowned out by the constant passing of cars, buses, and lorries.

After the prayers had finished we processed back.

I was at the back of the procession. I turned to take a few more snaps, and was not surprised to see the pro-abortion demonstrators carrying on their lack of consideration for others. They completely blocked the footpath, so people had to walk in the street as cars and buses passed.

I had to switch the camera off as the battery was running low, so I missed this poor chap on crutches having to walk in the street as no one moved to let him pass.

Yet more people having to walk in the street. Maybe the demonstrators were too busy congratulating themselves to give a stuff about others. "Our footpath, our right to decide what we do with our footpath" "keep your feet off our street"? 

Group photo at the end. the organisers kindly provided lots of refreshments for us all in the hall. Well done and thanks to those who came and supporting the vigil on the day. You can find out all about what's been happening in east London by clicking on the links below.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The Life and Crimes of Margaret Sanger IV: Eugenics and Race

A Ku Klux Klan rally (1922) 
Margaret Sanger addressed a KKK group in 1926
In 1939 the Birth Control Federation of America launched a new initiative called the ‘Negro Project’ to spread the ideology and practice of birth control among African Americans.

One of Margaret Sanger’s chief allies was Clarence Gamble, of the Proctor & Gamble dynasty, who was an ardent eugenicist and advocate of forced sterilisation. In a letter to Gamble she wrote:   

“It seems to me from my experience where I have been in North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas, that while the colored Negroes have great respect for white doctors they can get closer to their own members and more or less lay their cards on the table which means their ignorance, superstitions and doubts... The ministers [sic] work is also important and also he should be trained, perhaps by the Federation as to our ideals and the goal we hope to reach. We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man to straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”

This has often been seen as evidence that Sanger wished to eliminate the black race through eugenic birth control. However the truth is probably more complicated. There is no compelling evidence that Sanger was necessarily motivated by racism. As we have seen in previous posts, it was the physically and mentally disabled that she most desired to eliminate through contraception, segregation and sterilisation.  However it is not surprising that her work was open to such interpretations as throughout her career she was happy to collaborate with white supremacists at home and Nazis abroad.

Sanger appointed Lothrop Stoddard, author of The Rising Tide of Color Against White Supremacy, as a member of the board of directors of the American Birth Control League. Stoddard believed that the growth of non-white populations was putting western civilisation at risk. The book was based in large part on the racial theories of Madison Grant, whose book The Passing of the Great Race, was described by Adolf Hitler as his ‘Bible.’ At the Nuremberg Trials a defence lawyer for Karl Brandt, Hitler’s personal physician and head of the Nazi euthanasia programme, used Grant’s book to help prove that the many of the ideas and practices implemented by the Nazis originated in the United States of America.

There were many connections between Sanger’s circle and the Nazi regime in Germany. Her friend Harry Laughlin drafted the model sterilisation law that was largely adopted by the Third Reich and he praised the Nazi regime during the 1930s. The Rockefeller Foundation supported both Sanger and Nazi eugenic programmes. Advocates of Nazi eugenics played a leading role in the international birth control movement, speaking at international conferences such as the 1927 Geneva conference which was organised by Sanger and was attended by future Nazis Edwin Baur and Eugen Fischer. Sanger's conference helped inspire the founding of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population. The 1935 IUSSP conference was held in Berlin where American eugenicist Clarence G. Campbell toasted "that great leader, Adolf Hitler."

Hans Harmsen - worked with both Hitler and Sanger

The American Birth Control League changed its name to The Planned Parenthood Federation of America after the United States entered the Second World War in 1942 in order to hide from its former association with Nazi policies. However despite the change of name there were continuing links between Nazis and the modern eugenic and abortion movements. Hans Harmsen, a leading German eugenicist who took part in the implementation of the Nazi forced sterilisation programme in East Frisia, was head of the German affiliate of the International Planned Parenthood Federation during Sanger’s presidency. In fact, he remained in the latter office as late as 1984.

Racist attitudes, or indifference to such attitudes, have always been commonplace within the abortion and birth control movement. Beatrice Blair, a leading abortion advocate, accepted money to build an abortion facility in a black area of Rochester, New York fully aware that ‘many people, in their minds, made the connection, well, we’re going to keep the blacks down.’[1] In Chicago Lonny Myers accepted the support of racist donors arguing ‘any cause has strange bedfellows.’[2] In a 2008 sting operation a Planned Parenthood clinic showed itself willing to accept donations specifically intended to be used to kill black infants and earlier this year abortionist Ashutosh Virmani spoke of killing ‘ugly black babies’ who nobody would want to adopt.[3] The eugenic nature of Britain’s abortion laws is seen by the distinction in law between disabled and non-disabled infants. The latter may be aborted up to 24 weeks but the former at any time up till birth. 90% of all those conceived with Down’s Syndrome are killed in their mother’s wombs. It is clear then that much of the movement is still motivated by eugenic principles. Hitler’s ‘Aryan race’, Stopes’ ‘irradiated race’ or Sanger’s ‘racial efficiency’ are all manifestations of the desire of the eugenicist to force the human race, no matter by what cruel or destructive means, to conform to their own ideal of perfection.

Earlier posts in this series:

[1] Angela Franks, Margaret Sanger’s Eugenic Legacy: The Control of Female Fertility, p45
[2] Ibid

Monday, 5 November 2012

Plymouth - SPUC Pro-Life Universities Tour

Following our stop off at Bristol we returned to London, only to head back to the south west the following day for a pro-life talk at Plymouth University. The train journey was particularly scenic between Exeter and Plymouth - beautiful views of the countryside, coasts, beaches, and the sea. 

We were greeted by Fr. Ian Hellyer, a recent Catholic priest of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and Catholic chaplain at Plymouth University. Upon arrival we were fed authentic Cornish pasties, tea, and scones with strawberry jam. Fr Ian told us how he met his wife whilst they were both students at university. Fr. Ian's wife was a Catholic, he an Anglican. She started the pro-life society and he dutifully joined. They were married and are now parents to 9 children. Fr. Ian entered the Anglican ministry for 20 years, and 18 months ago converted to Catholicism through the Ordinariate. 

The talk, given by Joseph Meaney, went well. Having a mixture of UK and overseas students certainly added a good element to discussions afterwards. Members of the SPUC Plymouth branch also joined us for the talk. Christine Hudson of SPUC Plymouth spoke afterwards about the work of the local group, SPUC campaigns, and the youth and student newsletter. The SPUC Plymouth group have been active in supporting students at Plymouth and Exeter, inviting them to events, and sponsoring students to attend the SPUC international youth conference. We stayed for a long time talking afterwards, then were offered a very nice dinner and bed for the night by Christine and her family.

Whilst we were at Plymouth, SPUC's communications and media manager Anthony Ozimic was speaking to Exeter Univeristy's newly founded pro-life society. 

Up next: Exeter
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