Written by Kathy Thompson
While in the US, I had the opportunity to catch up with several prominent pro-life leaders. I asked three of them what they would say to Australian pro-lifers who have to deal with enormous bubble zones and if we can still be effective 150 metres away from the abortion mills:
David Bereit, founder and former head of 40 Days for Life
First off, count on our prayers from the United States for you because that is a very daunting challenge.
Secondly, the most important and potent thing we can and must do is to pray and bubble zones don’t keep out our prayers. Yes, it will minimise the interactions we have with women at the last second, but it will, I think, cause us even more to fall on our knees and to rely even more on Our Lord to bring about a change of heart.
The other thoughts are to – I’ve seen in New York City where we have bubble zones and in Massachusetts and Colorado and there are other places in the States where we do have bubble zones, not quite as large – but the people there have had to get very creative. Some of that is signage where they’re allowed to do that, to invite people to stop and request help. Some of it is if there’s an opportunity to interact with people further away, you know if they’re having to come down a sidewalk before they go in, even if you don’t know if this person is going to an abortion centre or somewhere else, just an open conversation with everyone.
Some of it too is when people leave and unfortunately at that point it may be too late to spare the child but that may be the first moment to begin the healing journey for the mother.
It’s a very difficult situation in Australia and I feel for you very much but I know that with God, all things are possible, even overcoming buffer zones.
Matt Britton, Chairman of the Board of 40 Days for Life
I would say unequivocally, that you should not give up.
God will put abortion-minded women in your path. He is not restrained by blue and red lines. I’ve seen these hateful lines in Buffalo, New York: the blue lines, red lines and yellow lines all over the world, in fact.
Here’s a story from Victoria, British Columbia: the buffer zone is 50 metres in Victoria – 150 m if you ask. But the bus stop was 53 metres from the facility. Many women were going for abortions because they were desperate for money and they took the bus to the abortion facility.
I was there and saw an eighteen-year-old girl walk off the bus and she said, “Well, I celebrate your right to be here but I think you should celebrate my right to go in to have an abortion.”
Within ten minutes the counsellor had talked her out of it. They were exchanging phone numbers and the girl said, “Do you know how many other girls I know in this situation?”
So don’t give up. God is not restrained.
In London, Ontario, before they had buffer zones, they were almost 500m from the entrance. They were out there for almost ten years and never knew if they saved a baby. One day a woman stopped right in front of us. Traffic was honking at her and she said, “You don’t know me, but last year I pulled up at the door in front of the hospital to have an abortion. And when I left my house, my mum told me not to have an abortion. And the father of my child told me not to have an abortion. But when I passed you on the street, God told me not to have an abortion. This is my one-year-old son; I never went ahead with it.”
Buffer zones are just a way of them attacking us. If we stay away, if we say that we need proximity, then in a way, we say that God is not in charge. Remember, 40 Days for Life is rooted in prayer. God is going to change hearts and minds; we can’t take any of the glory. Our Lord also told us that some demons can only be cast out by prayer and FASTING.
Way down the line is what you did and what I do: we get out on the street. That’s action. Our Lord does not call us to action, He calls us to obedience. We need a life of prayer and fasting.
So if we were to say, “Gosh. I can’t get anywhere near the women, I can’t get there to pray”, then I would be putting action before prayer. I would be saying, “I ONLY have prayer and fasting.”
I also hear all over the world, “Well, since we’re so far away, maybe we should stay in the church.” And I don’t agree with that at all. You know I go all over the world, and you don’t know how many people have stopped and said, “Well, what are you doing there?”
That wouldn’t happen if we were in a Church.
We are called to evangelise and I always tell people as Chairman of the Board of 40 Days for Life that we are evangelising. If we are going to evangelise the Gospel, it is first and foremost a Gospel of Life. We have everlasting life. Up or down, our souls are everlasting. We have to proclaim that.
Imagine if we died and said to God, “I wanted to proclaim the Gospel of Life on the street, but I could only get 50 metres away.” Our Lord might say, “What’s a metre?”
Look, I’ve seen it work, I’ve seen it happen, I’ve seen people undeterred. So I know as a matter of fact that we can not give up. I know as a matter of prayer and religiosity that we can not give up. And I know as a matter of fasting that we can not give up.
The Legal Aspect
Also, use it or lose it. You have freedom of political communication of a sort. Most of the Commonwealth nations do – I travel all over Canada to fight this fight against buffer zones; they have a legal right, a code right – of course, we [in the United States] have a First Amendment right – if we don’t use that right, then we will be complacent and it will be taken away.
And this is why the left-wing is on our side in America. Because who’s next? Once they take away your right to express yourself, they’ll stop you from praying at all in public, like they do in France. Then eventually they’ll have a communist politburo where only they can talk.
I just got back from Fatima and this is what our Mother Mary warned us about. The message wasn’t that every nation will be communist, but that the doctrines of communism will spread and they did. I know you didn’t want me to talk about that but it’s important. Legally and practically, use it or lose it. If we give in to the hate-mongering, socialist/communist-minded people who insist that only they can talk, then who’s next?
Secondly, if we say that 50 yards is too much, or 150 metres is too much, then I think we’re saying that MY action is more important than my prayers.
Look, you’ve done it, you’re the model: get out there, be present. Even if it’s 150 metres, they’ll see your signs – they know that they don’t want an abortion and by the way, Abby Johnson, Sue Thayer, Ramona Trevino and Jewels Green and so many other former abortion workers don’t say that when pro-lifers are within 150 metres that 75% of appointments get cancelled. They say when you’re out there praying, 75% of appointments are cancelled.
God’s in charge and He’s not constrained by lines on maps.
Monsignor Reilly, founder of The Helpers of God’s Precious Infants
It’s not only worth going; you must go.
We must do whatever we can. If it’s two feet away, it’s two feet away. If it’s 150 metres away, it’s150m away and when you’re there, everybody knows you’re there – possibly even more so at 150 metres away, they know you’re there.
The mothers who are going for the abortion know that there’s somebody out there who is offering
Help. The people passing by know it, see? Those who are passing laws know it, see? And the bishops must encourage people to go and they must go themselves.
This is not an issue that only laypeople can be judged on – as though bishops won’t be judged – that’s not true.This is a moral issue in which unborn children are being killed, mothers are being really hurt. It’s absurd that we’re even at the point of discussing whether someone should be 150 metres away. On what other issue are people restricted to being 150 metres away when they do good? None. It’s absurd.
We should be at the very doors. We should be there for the mothers who need help. But 150 metres away? That we accepted that is absolute nonsense. You’ve got to be kidding me! Before God this is nonsense.
And we should not even obey it. We should be at the doors with the bishops and God’s people, then they can do something about it: arrest us all. The more we tolerate and accept the unacceptable, the more unacceptable things will be imposed upon us. Eventually, they won’t even want you out there at all. They want you to be silent. Go to Church. Shut your mouth. Say a prayer.
So when people say that we should just pray in the Church, we would be playing into their hands?
They’d love you to do that.
If praying in the Church is sufficient; if mothers will change their hearts and babies don’t die then that’s fine. But we’ve been praying in the Church and they’re still killing the babies.
So you need to say,
“Wait a second, this is not working.”
Maybe God wants us, like the first Apostles, to go to Calvary. Maybe God wants us, like the first Apostles, to be crucified. What makes us think that we’re not going to be held accountable because it’s difficult …. because it’s a cross? Wait a second. Our Lord Himself was crucified and the Apostles died. Even if you have to go a thousand feet, they’ll know we’re there. Everybody knows we’re there.
And there will be some who’ll go right to the doors.The difficulty with going right to the doors is that you can only do it once or twice, because they’ll take you away. They’ll lock you up and this type of thing, which is wrong. But that’s what they’ll do. Whereas if you’re 150 m away they can’t lock you up, you’ll be following the law. But you’ll be witnessing to it, saying, “This is insane.”
God is going to hold accountable those politicians who pass this law. They risk going to hell, I’m not kidding, this is true. You’re killing God’s babies. You are denying their mothers help and what do you think God’s going to do about this? Pat you on the back? Is He going to say, “Well, it’s ok?”
He’s not going to say it’s okay.