40 days of protest outside Calthorpe Abortion clinic

Controversial pro-life campaign, ’40 days For Life’ , outside Calthorpe road abortion clinic has caused a stir amongst students and members of the public

Students and the public have been protesting outside Calthorpe Road Abortion clinic over the last few weeks against the pro-life campaign ’40 days for Life’.

’40 days For Life’ was originally set up in Texas in 2007 by David Bereit and Shawn Carney, and brought over to the UK by Robert Coluqhun. It entails pro-life campaigners standing outside Calthorpe road abortion clinic handing out leaflets, holding crucifixes and praying for patients entering the clinic, some of which are about to undergo an abortion.

Calthorpe Road Clinic in Edgbaston

The controversial campaign is not run by any particular church, but has support from a variety of Christian denominations in Birmingham. Student participants for the pro-life campaign include some members from UoB’s Cathsoc, although it is not run by the society. The UoB Women’s association have been protesting against the pro-life campaign, along with members of the public. The campaign has been running since the 13th February and will continue until the 24th of March.

Pro-choice campaigners

On their website, the campaign seeks to provide ’40 days of prayer and fasting, 40 days of peaceful vigil’ and ’40 days of community outreach.’ They maintain that the most significant part of their campaign is ‘the peaceful prayer vigil outside the local abortion facility.’

Campaign Director Isabel Vaughan-Spruce told The Tab, ‘the campaign is ultimately one of love, however misused that word may be today. We aren’t at Calthorpe to harass women/couples, nor to intimidate, judge or condemn them, we are there to help them. We offer leaflets to those entering or leaving Calthorpe which, obviously, people are free to accept or decline.’

Pro-choice campaigners outnumbered the anti-abortionists

She also said, ‘contrary to what some people believe, abortion clinics make money from women having abortions, they don’t make any money from women who change their minds and decide to keep their baby, which is why we encourage women/couples to seek counselling elsewhere.’

She stressed that ‘it is important to know that although we oppose abortion we do not hate those who are considering it or those who have had one, nor do we hate those who work at Calthorpe.’

Tension was evident outside of the clinic, with pro-choice and women’s rights campaigners outnumbering anti-abortionists. Pro-choice campaigners blocked out an A-frame showing the image of the 8-week old foetus, causing an anti-abortionist to hold it up and move it back into view. (pictured below) The reason for blocking the image was because it was ‘very upsetting’ and ‘unsettling’, particularly for somebody about to undergo an abortion.

A pro-choice campaigner and an anti-abortionist clash

The Tab spoke to Lucy Perkins, co-chair of the UoB Women’s Association, who were present on Saturday outside of the clinic. She said, ‘we’re here to be a presence to counter-act the protestors who oppose abortion. For women to come here and see the kind of signs they’re holding up and see the leaflets they’re handing out is going to be quite upsetting and distressing. It’s obviously intended to make women feel as bad as possible.’

the UoB Women’s Association

The Tab interviewed Becky*, a member of Cathsoc and a supporter of the ’40 days for Life ‘campaign at length, which you can read here.

*Becky is not her real name.