“…is for good men to do nothing”

I am disappointed in my profession. There are so many times when I am proud of my job, and my colleagues; proud of what we do and how we do it; proud of what we say, how we speak out about things that matter. Now is not one of those times.

Where are the outspoken GPs? Where are the consultants taking a stand? Where are the junior doctors protesting? Where is the grass roots campaigning, where are the leaflets, the collected signatures, the petitions?

We are cowards. Scared to speak out, scared of conflict, scared of come-backs.

We are selfish. Afraid of losing money, losing prestige, losing contracts.

We are weak. Picked off one by one. Isolated from one another, with no coherence, no structure, no backbone.

Abortion is coming to Ireland; abortion has come to Ireland. And we peer across the border, hiding behind our sofas, hoping that the people at the door will go away and leave us alone. This will not go away. We cannot sit on our hands and expect the abortion debate to pass us by. If we don’t speak out, then why should we be surprised when we stand blinking in the sunlight of a brave new world of legalised, state-mandated abortion?

When was the last time you heard a doc speak about this in Northern Ireland? When was the last time you discussed it with a colleague? When was the last time you discussed it with a patient? Never? Yep. When are we going to start talking about this? When are we going to start speaking out, publicly, firmly, clearly about our objection to abortion – rationally, compassionately, winsomely? We’re just waiting for someone else to do it, aren’t we? And then it’ll be too late.

You’re familiar with a rear-guard action? It’s fighting, but you’re going backwards. You’ve been beaten, and you’re trying to cut your losses, get out without losing your skin. That’s what’s happening in the Republic of Ireland. I admire the docs and nurses and midwives who are vocal at the moment over the abortion legislation – they are organised and outspoken, they are getting press coverage and sympathy, and I hope to goodness that they carve out some meaningful concessions, because no-one wants the State patrolling one’s conscience and compelling them to be involved with abhorrent things. But it seems to me – and I could be very wrong here, and it could be media bias or my inattention – but they’re too late. Maybe as the noose tightens, the need for action becomes more pressing, and the passive ones are forced into action. Maybe they thought it would never happen there. Because it could never happen here. Obviously.

It is happening here. Our dear friends on the mainland are falling over themselves to offer abortion services to the women of Northern Ireland. The British Pregnancy Abortion Advisory Service have mailshotted every GP in the land with posters and promotional material so that we can refer women with the greatest of ease for their abortion. Let’s face it – powers pushing abortion – the secular UK government, the secular UK health service, the media – are much better organised, much better resourced than those speaking out for life. They are winning the hearts and minds of the people, drip-drip-dripping the abortion agenda, normalising the murder of unborn children, so that when the vote comes, when the referendum comes, it will sail through. We have already lost time. We are not fighting a rear-guard action like our colleagues in the Republic, but we are outflanked and outmanoeuvred.

So what is my solution? What am I offering? Let me throw out some suggestions:

  • Let’s talk. To each other. To friends. To patients. We still have a little bit of authority, and we are used to explaining things and reasoning with people. If the evil day comes, will people look at us and say, “I didn’t realise that you were pro-life!”?
  • Let’s get together. There is safety in numbers. Informal groups, formal groups. Faith-based groups, secular groups. Medical groups, laypeople groups.
  • Let’s write. Tweet if you have to. Facebook if you really must. Blog if you can’t contain yourself. Carefully chosen words.
  • Let’s display. Do you work somewhere where you can stick posters on the walls? Put a pro-life poster up. Or at least take the BPAS poster down. You’ve got flyers or tracts? Leave them around. Leave them in the toilets. Leave them on the bus or the train. Tuck them inside books in the library.
  • Let’s protest. There’s a pro-choice stall set up every week in Belfast. Where’s the pro-life stall? Where are the doctors gathering in front of Stormont, or at City Hall with their placards?

If you’re interested, speak to me. It feels very lonely at the moment…

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