Louise – Voice for the Voiceless : Project Truth
After a remarkably dreary winter – I’m sure you’ll all agree – Project Truth took to the road once more. We grabbed our equipment and our ‘smiles for life’ and off we went – this time not too far at all from SPUC Scotland HQ. It was a slightly special occasion as this was the first time we’d held Project Truth in Glasgow and we were definitely very excited about it, albeit with a wee pinch of apprehension. I was born and bred in Glasgow, I absolutely love this city and it’s true what they say, people do make Glasgow. However, having never held a stall here before, there was a fear of the unknown. Will people respond well? Will people be hostile? I guess you always get that buzz of adrenaline when you’re out there which overrides any apprehension you might have. I have to commend the young people who give their time so graciously to standing up for life, it’s a very courageous thing to do to put yourself out there so directly whilst engaging with the public. Why do they do it? Why do they keep coming back? It’s because they have a deep and real love for life and believe that it should be protected at all stages. They believe this with such a zest that they are eager to take to the streets and engage with others about the issues of abortion today, celebrating the beauty and dignity of human life, looking out for the littlest among us, and reaching out to our fellows who are broken by abortion.
In society today you have at one end of the scale, extremely dedicated pro-lifers and at the other end you have very firm pro-choice activists. But in the middle there’s a mountain of people who haven’t fully thought about the issue. If you ask them they’ll probably tell you that they support a woman’s right to choose, that sounds like quite a compassionate thing to say and it’s great to be empowered to make our own decisions. However, what we find when we’re chatting to people on the street is that quite a lot of people don’t know that every day we lose 30 babies to abortion in Scotland. I spoke to a doctor the other day who didn’t know that in cases of disability a baby can be terminated right up until birth and she was very shocked to hear so. I’ve spoken to many people in the past who had the same reaction. Many people don’t know much about the development of the baby. They don’t know that by week ten of pregnancy an unborn baby already has a beating heart – beating since day 18! They don’t know that by this stage they already have arms and legs, fingers and toes. They don’t know that all their bodily organs are present. They don’t know that they already have eyes, a nose and ears. Project Truth aims to inform people of these facts through friendly discussion. We’re not out there to tell people what to think, or give them a lecture – far from it. We’re out there to ask people to think about something that maybe they haven’t given much thought to before, or to think about the facts more deeply on an issue that they have already formed quite a strong opinion on. Through understanding a bit more about the humanity of the child in the womb, some people may rethink that idea of ‘choice’.
As soon as we were set up on Saturday people started to come up to the stall to chat to us. All of our imagery at the stall is very positive featuring the baby developing in the womb. We don’t use any graphic images. On the stall we lay out foetal models showing the exact size of the baby at certain stages of development – which proves very popular with pregnant ladies who like to see what size their baby is. We have information about the Cardinal Winning Pro-Life Initiative which is a crisis pregnancy centre in Glasgow and we have information about ARCH who help people who are struggling after an abortion decision. We let them know that help and counselling is available and that they are not alone. We also have an array of fun stuff like lollipops, mints, pens, pencils, stickers and bookmarks. Some of our team sparked discussions with passers-by with our leaflets which focus on the development of the baby in those first 10 weeks. Others approached people with a questionnaire asking their opinions on the current law and media attention. The questionnaire is used more to facilitate discussion than amalgamate statistics. We got 40 questionnaires filled in but spoke to many more people throughout the day.
With one of the questions on the questionnaire we stated that the abortion law has now been devolved to Scotland and we asked,
Now that Holyrood will be in charge of the abortion law, should abortion be : Unchanged, more widely available, less widely available or banned completely?
Here are the results based on the people who filled in the questionnaire :
Unchanged : 27.5%
More widely available : 0
Less widely available : 35% (one of which said except for cases of rape)
Banned completely : 35% (one of which said except for cases of rape)
2.5% did not give an answer.
We then went on to discuss in greater detail their answers and spoke the them about in cases of rape or disability.
The day as a whole went very well, we all had fun out there and between us we had some great discussions with people, most of which were very positive – even the ones who didn’t agree with us. We had one aggressive guy who shouted in James’ face but he removed himself quickly, shouting abuse as he retreated. A couple of others shook their head as they went past the stall but didn’t engage. My favourite discussion of the day lasted for the best part of half an hour. I was standing behind the stall when I saw a woman walking past who looked a little confused but not angry. I hopped after her and showed her our leaflet and said it would be interesting to hear her opinions on these issues. She then stated quite firmly, but not aggressively, that she had a strong opinion on these matters and proceeded to rant that if a woman decides to have an abortion then she should be able to make that decision without question as there are loads of reasons why it wouldn’t be right to bring a baby into the world. She concluded the rant by saying to me,
“I mean, you’re just a wee lassie, what do you know!?’
I giggled jokingly and said,
“Listen, that’s a real kindness but I think I’m a wee bit older than you think I am.”
To which we both laughed so that broke the ice a little. Then we had an in depth conversation about a variety of issues – she showed an interest in the points I was making. She agreed with me on some though didn’t shift her opinion on others. At the end of the conversation she said,
“I don’t completely agree with everything you’re saying but I think it’s a great thing that you’re doing out here and I really respect that.”
We thanked each other for a good conversation. It’s great to be able to have a calm discussion with people and actually listen to each other – this takes the sting out of the negativity the media portrays.
James, one of our team members was on the Project Truth Roadshow last year and I asked him how he felt Glasgow differed to other cities that he’s visited. He said it went very well and felt that he had spoken to more people – Glasgow being a busier place and Glaswegians being easier to talk to and more open.
Katie, who was taking part in Project Truth for the first time said,
“Talking about life issues with the people of Glasgow was an incredibly encouraging experience! It was surprising and wonderful to find that the majority of people we encountered expressed their love, compassion and genuine curiosity about life issues in Scotland. It was truly a fantastic experience to be spreading awareness of the pro-life cause and after many wonderful conversations I left with a great hope that Scotland will be able to make good use of our devolved power over the abortion law.”
After we had packed up we went for some pizza and spoke about our experiences of the day. We are looking forward to our next monthly stall, all going well with council permission, will take place on 25th June in Stirling.