GRAHAM Preston and his friends sit silently in the doorways of doctors’ surgeries where abortions are performed, trying to prevent pregnant women from entering.
‘We try to put ourselves between the abortionist and the child,’ says the Brisbane pro-life campaigner who is facing a possible jail term for his actions.
The aim of Protect Life members during these actions, which they call ‘rescues’, is to save the lives of unborn children by having the women turn away and not go ahead with the abortion.
Usually, the women walk over the protesters to proceed with the abortion of their unborn child.
But recently the small anti-abortion group, Protect Life, which is only a year old, had cause to celebrate when a woman did turn away.
It was a moment of elation amidst the misery, although Graham admitted that the rescue was not entirely due to Protect Life’s actions. Still they celebrated. That was one life saved.
Four members of Protect Life – Graham, Loretto Fox, Anne Rampa and David McDougall – have had little else to celebrate so far, as they have gone from rescue to rescue where the only tangible outcome has been to be arrested, charged and fined.
‘Whether lives have been saved, we don’t know,’ Graham said.
‘Women may have changed their mind about an abortion, without Protect Life being aware.’
Protect Life activists have been charged with refusing to obey a police order or the more serious offence of trespass, and the fines are beginning to mount.
Graham is facing up to $1350 in unpaid fines and, on principle, he has no intention of paying, putting himself in grave risk of being jailed.
‘I’m expecting eventually they’ll come and take me off to jail for refusing to pay fines,’ he said.
The father-of-six says to pay would be an admission of guilt.
‘I have done nothing wrong,’ he said.
He said being jailed could be the price he had to pay in his effort to stop abortion.
‘I’ve never been to jail but I’m not going to pay the fines.’
Some members, weighing up their individual circumstances, are paying the fines. Anne, herself a mother-of-six, chooses to complete community service orders instead.
Regardless of the penalties, the protesters believe right is on their side and they have the reward of knowing they are doing all they can to save the lives of unborn children.
Medicare statistics show that more than 100,000 babies are aborted in Australia every year.
That is a figure that horrifies Protect Life members and they are determined to continue their silent, peaceful protests at abortion clinics around Brisbane to force society to face the reality of what is happening to unborn children.
They argue that if such slaughter of children was happening on the streets, we would all be rightly outraged and the urge to rescue the victims would be automatic – a reflex action.
They believe it should be no different just because this is happening to unborn children behind closed doors and the ‘crime’ is hidden.
Anne said the anti-abortion movement had tried various means – education, political lobbying, rallying, marching, writing – to convey its message of the evil being done to unborn children, but all this had failed.
‘I believe we are failing because we are not acting in accordance with our beliefs – we are not trying to rescue the children in a direct, and normal, way,’ she said.
‘If a child was in a burning building, we’d do a break-and-enter to rescue it.
‘We would not think it was breaking the law – the higher purpose of saving someone’s life would over-ride this.’If a child was on the road, in the same way, we’d stop the traffic to save it.
‘How can we expect people to think of the unborn as small humans if we don’t behave as if they are either?
‘And so, I come to the doors of our abortion clinics to proclaim the humanity of these babies, and to reclaim the humanity of all of us.’
At their rescue attempts, Protect Life members hold up placards showing a photo of an unborn child at eight weeks. Graham says that is the average age of babies when abortions are performed.
They also have pictures they show abortion clinic staff and arresting police officers – pictures of mutilated babies, showing graphically what happens in an abortion.
At the most recent rescue attempt, on February 19, Graham, Loretto and Anne, sat at the entrance of an abortion clinic at Greenslopes in Brisbane.
Graham said the staff were quite ‘wound up’ to see that they were back again after a long absence. The protesters had been prevented from returning to Greenslopes because bail conditions restricted them from going back until after the court cases from an earlier action were finalised.
Police were again called to force them to move. One of the officers became aggressive and even threatened to arrest David who was protesting quietly on the footpath.
The other three were arrested, taken to Annerley police station, charged with refusing to obey a police order, and released on bail for yet another court appearance.
There were no ‘rescues’. Women walked over the protesters to enter the clinic.
Graham’s hope is that one day there will be enough people supporting the Protect Life stand to have 200 ‘rescuers’ sitting at an abortion clinic entrance so that women are unable to enter without stepping over a crowd of bodies.
In trying to speak with the women entering clinics, Protect Life members offer support.
They refer them to the Pregnancy Problem Centre at Mt Gravatt, which offers moral support as well as practical help.
Protect Life members also offer practical support to the women they encounter.
Graham said most women who contacted the Pregnancy Problem Centre just needed moral support, not material aid.
Graham and his wife Liz are also the Queensland co-ordinators of Right to Life Australia, whose members have held placard-waving protests outside abortion clinics in Queensland. But Protect Life goes further by trying to physically, still non-violently, to obstruct access to the clinics through sit-ins.
Contact Protect Life through Graham Preston on (07) 3892 5349.