UPDATE: After calling the clinic in Sydney, we’ve decided to visit on Monday instead of today, when only staff will be present. We’ll still be live tweeting and will post about the delivery next week.
When two friends in the UK noticed a group of pro-life supporters outside their local abortion clinic silently maintaining a vigil, they decided to act.
A counter protest didn’t seem right – why draw attention to the protesters and further upset women going to clinic? What they wanted to do was something for the people inside the clinic; the staff, and the women accessing services who would be most affected.
They decided on treats. Jaffa cakes, doughnuts, flowers and yo yos. Every day for 40 days they took the treats to the organisation to give something back to the people “that provide excellent services and don’t deserve people on their doorstep being annoying.”
“Let’s make people happy” was the message the two women – Carmen D’Cruz and Liz Lutgendorff – wrote on their website, which they named 40 Days of Treats.
We ran a post about the ‘ultimate act of defiance‘ at the time arguing that it was one of the best forms of protest we’d ever heard.
So when we heard those same pro-life campaigners – who go by the name 40 Days for Life – would be holding vigils around clinics in Australia from tomorrow, we wondered what we could do.
Answer: bake. Just like the women in the UK, we’re planning to show our support by baking cakes.
More about that in a sec, but first – here’s some info about the group that call themselves 40 Days for Life.
What is 40 Days for Life?
They’re a Texas-born anti-abortion group is preparing to spend the 40 days of Lent praying outside abortion clinics around the world.
They don’t hold signs or megaphones; they don’t wear tents or fight police officers. There’s no chanting or yelling. They stand silently and their intent is to shut down facilities in the name of religion.
According to the group’s website, they’ve undertaken 1633 campaigns in 422 cities. They say they’ve ‘spared’ 5045 lives from abortion; witnessed 61 abortion workers quit their jobs and walk away from the abortion industry; and forced 21 abortion facilities to shut down completely as a result of the campaign.
They staged their first post in Brisbane in 2009, and this year they’re calling for volunteers to man vigils in 7 locations around Australia (which we’ll list further down the post.)
In an article in the Brisbane Times, Founder of the 40 Days for Life Australian chapter Brendan Wong rejected the idea that the group was “fanatical or obstructive”, saying instead that the methods were “peaceful and focused on prayer.”
This from the Brisbane Times:
Mr Wong said while protesters did hope to convince women entering the clinic to think twice, the protest was aimed at a larger audience.
“We’ve had a few women who have turned around [from entering an abortion clinic] but while really we’re happy for those wins – we’re happy for people to come out and realise the error of their ways – we’re also looking for a broader change of people’s viewpoints on this,” Mr Wong said.
“We’re all about praying that people change their hearts and minds and come to view abortion as more than just another medical procedure.”
Here’s what we’re going to do.
This is a not a post about the right to life – or even the right to choose. It’s about finding a unique way to show love and support for women who are already going through a difficult time.
Just like the women in the UK, Mamamia’s Publisher Mia Freedman, Managing Editor Lana Hirschowitz and I are going to bake cakes (Chocolate? Vanilla? We’re open to suggestions) and take them down to the clinic in Sydney where the vigils are taking place.
Do you want to get involved?
You can. You don’t have to be a master baker. (I’m definitely not.) Packet cakes are fine. Ditto packets of lollies, biscuits, boxes of chocolates or bunches of bananas. Or flowers.
It’s the thought that counts – the smallest act of kindness can make a difference.
Head to your closest organisation and show your support.
Mia, Lana and I will deliver our cakes to staff and women at the clinic in Sydney’s Surry Hills before the week is out. We will live tweet from the clinic and next week I’ll write about it and tell you all how it went.
If you want to get involved – please do. Take a photo and add it to the comments section.
Here’s a list of where the vigils are taking place. There will be pro-life ‘protesters’ standing by the clinics every day, 6am until 8pm, from February 22 until April 1.
Preterm Abortion Clinic
Corner Elizabeth & Randle St
Surry Hills, Sydney
Fertility Control Clinic
118 Wellington Pde
Marie Stopes International abortion centre
8 Sayer Street
Midland, Western Australia
Specialist Gynaecology Centre
1a Victoria Street
Pregnancy Advisory Centre
21 Belmore Terrace
Woodville Park ,South Australia
“Dr Marie” Marie Stopes International
(formerly Planned Parenthood of Australia)
8 Campbell Street
Bowen Hills, Queensland
127 Wharf Street
Tweed Heads NSW
* It’s probably a good idea to give the clinic a call beforehand and give them a heads up that you’ll be turning up with cake
Ben Fordam tweeted this link earlier today. It’s audio from a story he did from the Sydney abortion clinic about the pro-life supporters who stand outside the facility. Have a listen to what they have to say: