Saturday, March 31, 2012

Forty Days for Life in Bedford Square

Update: thanks to all the pro-abortionists who are determined to spike my stats, and are so worried about the photos showing the relative numbers of pro- and anti-life groups in Bedford Square. In order to get round this it has been suggested that the photos were taken before 7pm, which was the official start time (actually, that was the time Bishop Hopes was arriving, the witness was there all day), in some sneaky ruse because we unfairly got there early. Anyway, if anyone wants to check the Exif data they can see for themselves that the earliest photo was taken at 7.10pm - the data is available on Flickr. Yes, that's right, I was a bit late - traffic is dreadful in London these days!

(Picture problem: seems to be restricted to Firefox.)
The great thing about blogging is the possibility of instant rebuttal. I've been beaten to the punch by Lawrence England, but on the other hand I've got photos to show the falsity of the claim being made that the pro-lifers were outnumbered by the counter-demonstration. This was in fact the reverse of the reality. It's not easy to get good photos of large crowds, even though I had a wide-angle lens. But I walked all the way round both groups and there is no question about it. Our group was enormous: I'd guess 400-500. Their group was less than half the size.

From the front:

From the back:

The counter-demo was a line of people facing one side of our group (behind a double set of barriers); our group was far larger both in length and depth. To help see what was going on here's a Google Street view picture:

We were standing on the raised pavement closest to the camera; the counter-demo was beyond us. The street lamp (see second photo) and the park bench on the right (see first photo) were both well within our crowd. The counter-demo covered the much narrower band of pavement beyond this, and it wasn't very deep. You get get an idea how deep their group is from this photo I took from behind them. The street lamp in the photo below you can just see in the street view photo above, on the extreme left (you can't see the top).

IMG_9448 See that line of white posters people are holding up? That marks the front edge of the counter demo. That's where the heads of the 'pro-choice' crowd ends and the pro-lifers begin.

"Pro-choice protesters outnumber attendees at prayer vigil in Bedford Square"? I don't think so. No wonder the comment box on Fitzrovia News has been closed.

You've got to hand it to the 'pro choice' crowd, what they lack in numbers they are willing to make up in influential media friends and sheer noise. It was also very noticable that they had put the most photogenic, female members of their group in the front row, facing us, for the cameras. They shrieked and banged drums more or less continuously. They seemed to be particularly wound up when we knelt down, which happened frequently as we did the Stations of the Cross.

The whole thing added up to quite a party atmosphere. It should be noted, however, that more than one member of the pro-abortion group had to be moved on by the police from attempting to intimidate members of our group, having walked round to the other side of the group in order to shout abuse.

Their main slogan was 'Stop harassing women' (which they pronouced in the American way, which was ironic as they also objected to 'American-style' tactics being used). Anything more clearly designed to harass and intimidate can scarcely be imagined than the noise they were making - and that was clearly the idea. We were praying quietly - inaudibly, in fact, for most of the time, in the context of the din from over the pavement. But their efforts were counter-productive: the promise of a big counter-demonstration was what produced the huge pro-life crowd. I don't think anything like this has been seen for years. It suddenly seems that the whole abortion issue is back in contention: the pro-abortionists clearly don't think they can just ignore us.

Bishop Hopes got the support he deserved on the day, and good for him for standing up to the intimidation directed at him personally, in advance, to stop him going. Episcopal leadership makes a huge difference to everything in the Church; the pro-life cause is a case in point. This point was certainly not lost on the pro-abortionists. IMG_8304 Here is Bishop Hopes at the last Latin Mass Society Annual Requiem (last November), which he celebrated for us in Westminster Cathedral. (He is changing from a chasuble to a cope in order to preach at the end of Mass.)

More photos of the witness.


  1. Leutgeb1:33 pm

    Many thanks indeed for checking the numbers.

  2. Anonymous6:27 pm

    Terrific demonstration of faith. Wish I clould have been there. I'll certainly make an effort next time round.

  3. Main story of the event which seems to have got lost in the hype is that the clinic was closed down for the day.  Surely, 40 days should thank Abortion Rights for helping them to achieve this important objective!

  4. Rosie2:28 pm

    I would argue the opposite actually, that the pro-choice numbers vastly ouweighed the 40 Days for Life group - it was clear to see around 8pm that many of the 40DFL supporters had left Bedford Square. Of course, this is an easy statistic to dispute both sides and really drags away from the main issue: that I believe you are actively harrassing women through filming them on their entrance to abortion clinics, and neither the state or the Church should be involved in such a personal decision for each women, and certainly one that is never taken lightly. You are harassing women and the pro-choice majority has <span>chosen to stand up for a woman's right to chose. I have no problem with people being anti-abortion, I do however have a problem with you encroaching on my belief to be pro-choice. </span><span>The system (in the UK anyway) means you have time to make an informed decision. I really don't get why people are portrayed as evil when they've just made one of the hardest decisions of their life. </span><span> think it's extremely unfair that to top it off protesters are further complicating an already traumatic emotional and physical experience, and the long term effect that can have on a woman is criminal. In my mind it's a form of assault, and emotional abuse. Which should be illegal. </span><span><span> I agree that freedom of speech should allow both sides to be heard, but you should not be allowed to approach and emotionally abuse women in public. Your opinions should be taken to the steps of parliament if you have something to say. </span></span><span><span></span></span>

    <span><span>No woman skips into an abortion clinic. Loose-knickers slags are a myth. These people are you and me. I find your actions disgusting and should be criminal. Taunting and intinidating others in any other capacity would be taken more seriously - </span></span><span>abortion is legally in this country. It's out of order to protest against democratic law in a country where the population are in favour of it.</span>

  5. Rosie2:29 pm

    Anne: I intend to donate money to pro-choice organisations for each day 40DFL stand outside a clinic, so pass my thanks on.

  6. Anonymous2:42 pm

    It's probably been "lost in the hype" because it's not actually true. Just saying.

  7. Yeah, faith meaning the chance to ram your morality down vulnerable people's throats. How's those church attendances coming on?

  8. Gareth2:48 pm

    <span>Another really important point was the density of the two crowds.  Not only was the counter protest larger in area, it was also heaving with people. One reason for this was the barrier; the focus of the counter-protest was toward the 40days crowd, and there was a guard-rail facing them. In contrast, the 40days crowd was a loose knit group.  This is evidenced by the post above: indeed, they were able to kneel as a group on a regular basis.  Have you ever been in a tight crowd, perhaps at a music event?  If everyone in that crowd tried to kneel at once there would be chaos, and probably some injuries.  You need space to do that, and the 40days crowd most certainly had it.</span>

  9. Alice2:50 pm

    Oh dear, nice try Joseph. Why are you so afraid of people knowing the truth that you post something so blatantly misleading? Here is what actually happened:

    The anti-choice side began their assembly much earlier. The pro-choice protest was scheduled to begin at 7:00pm. My friend and I arrived at about 7:15pm, and as we're not in these pictures, they must've been taken before 7:15pm. The pro-choice side reached maximum capacity at about 8:30pm, when it was at least three times the size of the anti-choice side. These pictures were taken just as the pro-choice protest was getting going, and even then the two groups look about the same size.

  10. James2:59 pm

    Thank you Joseph.  It is thanks to your witness that the truth is sown.

  11. Joseph Shaw2:59 pm

    Well, 'Rosie', either my readers can believe you, or they can believe their eyes...

  12. Joseph Shaw2:59 pm

    Look at my Flickr set. It give the time the photos were taken. I didn't arrive until after 7pm.
    It would have been physically impossible for you to get more people into the space you occupied than we had in the space we covered. Look at the photos.

  13. Fletch3:12 pm

    Joseph, at the highpoint we stretched back all the way to Gower Road, and were beginning to encircle you on the left-hand side as well. I'm all for you having a point of view - and airing it - but surely, even you can recognise you are in the wrong? There's no shame in admitting it either. Tell you what, why don't you contact the local police and ask them, then write on your blog what answer you get - verbatim.

  14. Gareth3:20 pm

    Your flickr page is not giving the times at which these were taken, Joseph. They're definitely from before 19.30, as that's when sunset was on this day.

  15. Guest3:22 pm

    This is such a bizarre blog post (not to mention incredibly defensive). The anti-choice lobby obviously have no real arguments and as such have to resort to fabricating myths about what was actually a very successful pro-choice demo. Our side easily outnumbered the 40DFL camp, especially when Critical Mass showed up to support us. But that's irrelevant really, the most interesting part of this is 'It was also very noticable that they had put the most photogenic, female members of their group in the front row, facing us, for the cameras.'
    Firstly, yes, we have the support of a lot of young women because unsurprisingly, as owners of wombs, this shit matters to us. But anyway, those at the front were those who got there first. No priority was given to the good-looking protestors and the suggestion is hilarious. Also, anyone there will have noticed that 40DFL had stationed a heavily pregnant woman and a load of children at the front of their crowd and I'm guessing THAT was no coincidence...
    Other points of contension with this article:
    - how on earth do you pronounce 'stop harrassing women' in an American way?
    - two pro-choicers infilatrating the anti-choice side counts as 'intimidation'? So hundreds of misogynists outside an abortion clinic is... ?
    - you were not 'praying quietly'. You made sure everyone could hear just how self-righteous you all are. Also, there were several occassions on which anti-choicers infiltrated our protest. On one occassion a woman with a rosary even grabbed a member of the crowd and had to be removed by police.

  16. Anonymous3:29 pm

    Yes, Wolfram Alpha says sunset was 19:34, and the sun doesn't look like it's setting yet in those photos.

    How about enabling the Exim data on your Flickr stream, Joseph?

  17. Anonymous3:34 pm

    Er, I meant Exif, not Exim, as I'm sure you're all about to tell me.

  18. Jamie3:36 pm

    What position does God take on liars, again? Just wondering, like.

  19. Joseph Shaw5:56 pm

    It is not hidden.

  20. Joseph Shaw5:59 pm

    You should be able to click on the Exim data. The first was taken at
    7.10. The last was taken with a flash, because, yes, it was dark...

  21. Joseph Shaw6:01 pm

    I'm sorry, you are not going to convince that I'm blind. I was there.
    I walked right round both groups. You can see the photos for yourself.
    The police weren't letting anyone hang around on the road to our left.
    Wake up and smell the coffee - you've been rumbled.

  22. Anonymous6:18 pm

    Joseph, you can probably see the Exim data because they're your photos, but the rest of us can't. However I'm happy to believe that the daylight ones were taken between about 19:10 and 19:30.

  23. Joseph Shaw8:07 pm

    No, I checked, on my options it is visible not hidden to the public. Try the link at the top of the updated post.

  24. Anonymous9:14 pm

    Perhaps you should think about a trip to the opticians, rather than relying on the power of prayer, Joseph, it's obviously not working. I was at the front of the protest then, later on, we moved around to our right side; the police were fine with this - in fact there is probably footage of people to the front of your lot. Nice that you've now pretty much admitted your pics were taken before the sun went down - way to win an argument.  

  25. Anonymous10:40 pm

    I've attached a nice picture from Twitter for you, Joseph; as you can see, from TottenhamCourt Road being in the background, you appear to be almost surrounded. 

    Incidentally, I just had a look at the Fitzrovia News, they also agree with us - I understand you think the Guardian and BBC etc are all lefty gits with some kind of pro-choice agenda, but what possible agenda could they have? Here you go, I'll save you the trouble of looking for it with your failing eyes. Enjoy!

  26. Gareth10:17 am

    The picture posted above is the real kicker here really. It shows the huge influx of people who turned up at sunset (so, just after 7.30). You can even see who they're supporting: the banners on the left hand side of the picture are pro-choice.  So in terms of area alone, there was a dense crowd behind the barrier, and another occupying the space between the 40days crowd and the BPAS front door. Thanks for clearing this up!

  27. <span><span>"It's out of order to protest against democratic law in a country where the population are in favour of it." </span></span>

    <span><span>That's the real giveaway line, isn't it? We must not ever question the laws that govern us. What an admission! What comes shining through from this post and from the attitudes expressed by other pro-abortionists is that, despite the token disclaimers to the contrary, they really don't want a debate, they don't want free speech, or the right to campaign, freely and peacefully for a change in a law (unless they're the ones doing it, of course). So we're not merely faced with a lobby that supports abortion, but one that is campaigning against basic democratic freedoms.

  28. Joseph Shaw12:58 pm

    Indeed. You don't hear them using that line when they are talking
    about Ireland or Poland, where they don't like the democratically
    supported law.

  29. Gareth1:48 pm

    If you want to take that tack, we could also for changes in the law that support a increasingly relaxed position on abortion. Perhaps you guys should also be questioning your views on this: for example, look at the health professionals who think the 'two signatories' thing is utter bunkum.  Or the steady stream of good quality evidence showing a lack of negative outcomes following abortions when compared with women who gave birth? Will you debate on these topics?  Will you risk losing even more ground?

    Fact is, we are debating these issues, and we're doing it with an evidence base. The anti-abortion side however, is bringing a spoon to a knife fight; you're not offering anything worth debating. And not all evidence is created equal; health professionals have to sort the wheat from the chaff every day.

    In any case, you're losing the point here. Don't argue that it's about opening a debate when you're campaigning outside clinics. Do your debating away from women who are in distress.

  30. Joseph Shaw5:13 pm

    Ignoring the arguments and then claiming there aren't any is not a
    terribly sophisticated approach. We're all for having a debate - there
    are several dedicated pro-life organisations who do it all the time.
    Why not go and have a look at their resources?

  31. Clearly there are some health 'professionals' who do think two signatures is bunkum, because they ignore it and break the law by pre-signing the forms without seeing the mother concerned or even looking at the facts of the individual case. Is that how pro-abortionists abide by the democratic law? Negative outcomes? You're saying that a dead baby is not a negative outcome, but a live one is?