With a lovely crowd of friends, some well-known, other friends I’ve met at other pro-life events and friends just made,
mixed with a delivery of some excellent talks – I really enjoyed myself at last year’s SPUC Youth Conference.
I can’t recommend this year’s conference in March highly enough – the 2016 SPUC Youth Conference will take place at the High Leigh Conference Centre in Hertfordshire. If it follows in the footsteps from last year’s conference – we’re on to a winner! Things are looking up in the pro-life world and it’s all getting better and better. Let me share my experience of the last conference with you.
Last year’s SPUC Youth Conference took place at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Southport – quite a posh hotel might I add (well, for a wee lass from Glasgow anyway) – which sits at the water’s edge of the picturesque wee town. I must say, last year (my fourth) was my favourite. With a lovely crowd of friends well known, friends I’ve met at other pro-life events and friends just made, mixed with a delivery of some excellent talks – I really enjoyed myself.
The talks were kicked off by Mary Doogan – one half of the Catholic midwife duo who fought for many a year but were recently denied the right to conscientious objection from involvement in abortion by the Supreme Court. This first talk was actually my favourite. Mary is a naturally excellent speaker but she also has such a realness to her words that her zest for protecting the sanctity of life shines through. Her battle was not an easy one but her moral compass kept her on the right track and she drew courage and strength from protecting what she knows to be sacred. Her talk was one of pure inspiration as she gave a first-hand account of her journey. It was very emotional and the standing ovation at the end was well deserved to show the gratitude and appreciation we have for these brave women.
Another talk which I really enjoyed was by Obianuju Ekeocha who linked the slavery of black people to the slavery of abortion today. This talk really made me think about how society has completely made ‘freedom’ spin in a crazy direction. Terrible things used to happen to black slaves and eventually they won their freedom from persecution. Our society then fought for a further freedom, ‘women’s freedom’, which introduced abortion to allow women to make their own choices about pregnancy. We are, however, just back where we started. These babies are not free, these women are not free and society would have you believe that this is totally acceptable, just as slavery was once totally acceptable. Obianuju showed us a famous picture used in the campaign to abolish slavery, which read underneath, ‘Am I not a man and a brother?’ Another picture of an unborn baby has been designed and put side by side with this image to show the link between slavery and abortion which really does make us think. Her talk reminded me of a particular song by Scottish musician Eric Bogle called ‘Singing the Spirit Home’, written about a black prisoner in South Africa who was to be executed. The chorus in particular could be linked to abortion:
‘Chains, chains, chains – how many souls have died in freedom’s name?
To some it is a way of life, to others just a word,
To some it is a snow white dove, to some a bloody sword.
Until the last chain falls
Freedom will make slaves of us all’
The last line is very profound. The freedom of abortion is most definitely making slaves of many, many people.
Another profound moment of the conference was during free time on the last night. Most folk had gone to bed but there were still a few people around chatting. I was standing in a small group when a guest at the hotel approached us and asked us to come and speak to her and her sister about pro-life issues. We went over and sat with them for a long time and chatted. It turned out that the women were fundamentally pro-life but they wanted to know more and asked us certain questions. At the end of the conversation, they told us they were very impressed with the turnout of young people at a conference they didn’t know existed but thought was so important. They thanked us for all we were doing for the pro-life movement and for restoring their faith in pro-life work.
It was so refreshing to hear these encouraging words as sometimes we feel as though we are swimming upstream in the work that we do. Moments like these encourage us to continue to stand strong and fight for the sanctity of life. We are here. We are not going away. We will be there for women in crisis pregnancies. We will be there for the vulnerable babies who need us to keep fighting for them and for those we have lost in the name of ‘freedom’. We will also be there for those who have had abortions in the past and are in need of healing. As Eric Bogle says, in the final lines of his aforementioned song,
‘Courage, brother, you do not walk alone.
We shall walk with you and sing your spirit home’.
Louise Grant has just joined the SPUC Scotland team where she will be running Project Truth. She also shares her time working as Admin Assistant for ARCH. Louise has immense experience of the pro-life movement having volunteered since 2010 with the Cardinal Winning Pro-Life initiative and she will continue to run their social media presence.