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On Sunday 15th April 2012, around eighty pro-choice protesters gave some anti-abortion activists a taste of their own medicine. They gathered in front of Worthing High School, which is where the Jubilee Community Church holds its Sunday morning congregations, for a 'Carnival for Choice.'
Jubilee Church is the base of 'Abort67' an extremist anti-abortion group that stages bi-weekly protests outside an British Pregnancy Advisory Service clinic in Brighton.
Pro-choice campaigners in Brighton caught wind of the horrific 'vigils' that they hold outside the clinic towards the end of last year. Their vigils include holding large-scale banners depicting late-term aborted foetuses outside the clinic entrance, handing out misinformation and untrue medical facts (claiming abortion leads to breast cancer, infertility etc) as well as haranguing and encircling women, some of them victims of rape, calling them 'murderers' and 'mothers of dead babies.'
Jubilee, an evangelical newfrontiers church is the perfect breeding ground (no pun intended) for these anti-choice bigots. Nearly all of Abort67's members (including it's leaders) are church members. The church leadership publicly state that they fully support Abort67 in their aims and tactics, as well as holding nicey-nice bake sales at the church to raise funds for Abort67.
The carnival started at 9.30am, to show the other members of the congregation that these tactics of harassment and intimidation of women accessing a legal medical service is completely unacceptable. They were confronted as they went to their service by pro-choice banners and chants such as 'Abort your support' 'Keep your religion out of my womb' and 'Abort Abort67.'
Brighton Pro Choice, a local campaigning group set up to counter these protests, handed a 3000-signature strong petition to the church leadership (who would obviously agree with an extreme minority than with a large number of people talking actual sense) calling on them to withdraw all their support of Abort67.
Jubilee's website now contains a disclaimer on the front page stating that they are a separate organisation to Abort67, but that they still 'defend the rights of the unborn child.' - i.e they're starting to feel the pressure.
After confronting the congregation before and after their service (and receiving lots of support from passers by) around fifty people marched into the centre of Worthing, finishing up outside the Guildhall Centre. One organiser told SchNEWS “The number of people who turned up to sleepy conservative Worthing* on a Sunday morning shows that people care strongly about reproductive rights and that we will not accept harassment and intimidation of people accessing a legal medical service.The pressure is on – lets keep up the momentum.”
To find out more about the Brighton Pro Choice Campaign, find them at www.brightonprochoice.wordpress.com, on facebook (Brighton Pro Choice) or twitter (@BrightonPC).
*Worthing is kind of sleepy and conservative and it's true that the dreadlock count is quite thin on the ground but it does contain a fiery anarchist core – to find out more check out the Porkbolter. (J.M)
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