Still no LIFE in Witney
According to The Witney Gazette (and its sister publication The Oxford Mail), the wicked ‘pro-life’ campaigners are yet again attempting to victimise the poor, beleaguered and lily-white members of Witney Town Council. How in God’s name could LIFE be so unreasonable as to want to hold a rally on ground so patently unsuitable that it is normally only ever used to host sports events, fairs, the visiting circus, the Witney Carnival and The Witney Feast? What deluding demon has possessed them that they could be so unreasonable, selfish, and misguided?
And why, when they are told ‘No’ – and are given no substantive reason for this rejection beyond the fact that their presence might upset people – will they not just go away and bother someone else? By refusing to respond to letters, emails and phone calls, that is, of course, precisely what Witney Town Council have made it perfectly clear they want LIFE to do.
The last occasion the event’s organiser was able to speak to the Town Clerk, Mrs Sharon Grogh, was immediately after the meeting of the Amenities Committee in November of last year – where we now learn from the Minutes that the application was summarily rejected. LIFE asked at the time what the decision was, and they were told to proceed and obtain the relevant licences. Why was this? Why involve an organisation in hours of administration and additional expense if the application has fallen at the first hurdle? Why taunt people and waste their time in this manner? Perhaps we will never know, but according to the report in The Witney Gazette, Mrs Groth has now said that council regulations mean a decision cannot be overturned within six months of the ruling, which had affected previous appeals.
What previous appeals? Could she be referring to the numerous emails, letters and phone calls the organiser for the event subsequently made to the Clerk’s office? If so, what a pity she never saw fit to communicate this – nor, indeed, to communicate anything at all.
Mrs Groth did, however, inform the journalist, apparently by way of justification, that similar applications to use The Leys from the Steam Fair and Witney Music Festival have also been recently rejected. But she did not mention the fact that they were offered alternative sites, which LIFE manifestly was not.
So why the discrimination?
The reason is perhaps alluded to in the same article: “A lot of pro-life rhetoric,” says Green Party member Kate Griffin, “talks about advice and counselling, but what it comes down to is anti-abortion propaganda.”
Who is Kate Griffin, and why was she asked for comment? This is something else we may never know, but she appears to be speaking on behalf of the Council.
His Grace was widely criticised for his articles last week on this matter (here and here). ConservativeHome picked up on the story, and His Grace was dismissed by some for being (God forbid) ‘right-wing’.
Since when has defence of the unborn been a question of political polarity? Is it really a peculiarly Conservative pursuit to assert that the child in the womb should have rights. Why are ‘human rights’ for the living judged to be the enlightened settlement of the progressive left, but for the unborn they are the oppressive rhetoric of the regressive right?
Did you know that the UK aborted 26 babies since 2002 for no other reason than that they had a cleft palate? Seven of these were terminated just last year, suggesting an exponential increase. And these seven were just a few of the 2,290 children whose lives were terminated in 2010 because they were ‘disabled’. The full figures:
The Down’s figure is particularly disturbing, and the revelation that 181 children were aborted for no other reason than ‘a family history of inherited disorder’ (ie no discernible disability) and that one of these was terminated over 24 weeks, is chilling. What barbaric message are we sending to the disabled whom we generously permit to be born?
Anthony Ozimic, communications manager of the SPUC, comments:
"Between 2001 and 2010, the number of abortions on the ground of disability rose by one-third, 10 times that of abortions generally. It is clear that legal abortion is a system which discriminates, fatally, against the disabled.Janet Thomas of No Less Human, a group which represents disabled people, sent her reaction to the SPUC:
Ann Furedi, the leader of the UK pro-abortion lobby, has today praised medics who abort disabled people, and described such abortions as couples 'los(ing)' a pregnancy. It is grossly misleading of Ms Furedi to imply that aborted babies are merely 'lost', as one might describe a miscarriage. Abortion is the intentional killing of a unborn child. It is medically unnecessary and ethically unacceptable. SPUC recognizes the profound challenge to couples who receive a diagnosis of disability in their unborn child, but Ann Furedi's comment is extremist.
The figures on teenage abortions reveal the failure of the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy inherited from the Labour government. The government must cut its ties and deny funding to those groups which share responsibility for that failure, most notably Brook and the Family Planning Association."
"No Less Human sometimes hears from mothers who, after a diagnosis of disability for their unborn children, are put under great psychological pressure to have an abortion. These mothers are not treated with compassion by the medical profession, because they have not made the ‘politically correct’ choice; they suffer greatly for the remainder of their pregnancies. It is not surprising if many women succumb to the pressure to have an abortion. One mother, who spoke to our coordinator Alison Davis, who has spina bifida, told her: 'They told me that my baby has spina bifida, but no-one will tell me what spina bifida is!' Real knowledge of disability and contact with disabled people is not part of the decision-making process once a pregnant woman is given the news of her baby’s disability. In fact, a very black view of the child’s future is usually painted. One of our members was told that her baby would have a head like a banana and would not survive birth. He has now grown up, moved into his own flat and is training for a job."Witney Town Council may not want to hear about such things, but, frankly, this is England, where the right to speak out and protest peaceably are fundamental to our liberty. The Witney Gazette have said:
The idea of an anti-abortion rally being held in the town may disgust some, but we think, in principle, it should be allowed to go ahead. There may be disagreement about the pro-life group and its message, but freedom of speech trumps that.Indeed it does.
And if Witney Town Council do not change their mind, it may be time to assert a little ancient liberty.