Friday, 16 March 2018

SPUC Youth Conference 2018

Ettore (age18 in June)

The day started like any other, it was a Friday and the weekend was coming. I just needed to get through a double period of chemistry and then I was free. But my weekend was going to be very different. I was going to engage in something truly meaningful!

My brother and I met up at home in London then left for the North. After a two hour journey and a taxi ride we arrived to the conference centre, late as Italians  normally are, but better late than never (we unfortunately missed Fiorella Nash’s talk on the fact that women are being told that their babies are hijackers or parasites, which I heard was very good) . We had a quick fish dinner and enjoyed the life themed quiz night, team names were very amusing, the pick of the bunch was ‘should have gone to SPUCsavers’. The prizes were also life themed, for example ‘Cadbury’s marvellous creations’ were the prize of choice as we are all a marvellous creations!

The next day the day started as any good day should, with Confession and Mass followed by another great thing, English breakfast! Then we had many different workshops, I went to the workshop on social media use for the spreading of the pro-life message, it was very useful and told us to avoid the week long flame wars on the comment sections of facebook and instead try and bring it into real life. 

Then we had a talk on the effects of assisted suicide laws given by Prof. David Paton, who warned of the great dangers of implementing an assisted suicide law.

Later we had a talk on the rights of conscience in European and international law, and why British medical staff should be protected. An important talk for those of us who were planning a career in medicine (of which there were many.) He explained the protections under the law which conscientious objectors had in an aspects of medicine, be it doctors, nurses or pharmacists to not perform abortions or sell abortifacient drugs and contraceptives. It was a relatively positive talk on how justice triumphs in this case, giving us the right to object and not face any consequences like being fired. Having filled our stomachs on a lunch of chilli con carne followed by cake we moved on to the next talk. This one was given by Prof. Patricia Casey on mental health and abortion. She's a psychologist who has dealt with many cases of women who have been affected by abortion both indirectly and directly. I particularly enjoyed this talk as she dissected studies done on whether or not abortion causes mental health. She commented on the fact that we do tend to exaggerate the consequences of abortion on women, of course some feel regret,  but many deal with it ‘well.’ In addition she spoke of the risk factors that increase the likelihood of women developing post abortion mental health issues, like being coerced, being a teen, history of previous mental health issues or religious beliefs. Although this may not seem very useful to the apologetics side of things, it does help us to speak the truth more fully. However she didn't leave without giving us ammunition, the studies also said that women who seek an abortion and did not receive one did not have an increase mental health issues. Basically discounting the fact that abortion is a cure for the so called dangers to the mental health of the mother. So the 96% of abortions done in the name of preventing damage to the mother's mental health are carried out for a reason that has no basis in science. But hey what do we know we're just crazy antiscience nuts, for some reason in this case several peer reviewed studies on the topic don't mean anything!

 Then SPUC Scotland gave a talk on the work Project Truth does by spreading the pro-life message and getting to the heart of the issue by having genuine conversations all around Scotland in a tour bus. This was followed by March for Life organisers who rightly said ‘people always ask us why Birmingham, and so this year we decided to do it in London instead, in the capital.’ he urged us to come and do something instead of being bystanders to a genocide. So I invite you all to come, the greater the number the better it will be. We cannot stand and do nothing, especially since we know the extent of the evil that is happening all around us.

Then there was a talk by Prof. Priscilla Coleman who gave a stream of statistics on the effects of abortion on mental and relational health, and good couples that undergo abortion have their emotional and sexual relationships fractured for good

Dinner was next and that was followed by ceilidh a fun night of dancing and socialising with like minded young people, (we even met people via Catholic mothers!) which is refreshing to someone like me who is usually the only one in the room with a different opinion, don't get me wrong I enjoy debating and putting my ideas to the test and an opinion echo chamber is not good, but from time to time it's nice not have to be on your guard.

After the ceilidh we stayed up talking into the early hours of the morning trying to solve the world's problems.

The day started with Sunday Mass and then breakfast. This was followed by a panel of speakers who answered questions about pro-life apologetics, they helped us to answer difficult questions like abortion in the case of rape and the backstreet abortion question. We need to change minds one conversation (or debate) at the time, and we need to give good answers to difficult questions.

Then there was the highlight of the conference (in my opinion) Aisling Hubert ‘counting the cost - a winnable battle. ’ It was a tough talk about the reality of the injustice that is going on all around us. And that we must be ready to lose our life for it. ‘If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.’ (Matthew 10:39) and what is a more just cause than the defence of the innocent. Hubert told of taking some abortionists to court for performing sex selective abortions, but her case was dropped on two occasions because it was not considered to be in the ‘public interest’ and she was stuck with £47,000 legal fees at the age of 20. She was faced with a choice, to go to prison or attempt to pay the fees. After long consideration she did not want to put the burden of the fees on others so was willing to go to prison. A few weeks before she was due to pay a Christian charity came to the rescue and helped her to pay the legal fees, despite her acceptance of going to prison. We saw a harrowing video of actual abortions being performed at different stages of gestation, to show us the reality of what is going on. She compared the pro life movement to the American civil rights movement, and spoke of the horrors that they went through to defend human dignity, and told us this is what is awaiting us, but there is also a great reward: eternal life. So we should take up our cross and follow Christ.

We ended with that rallying cry, a call to arms with Christ as our model and general leading us to battle. ‘with God on our side who can be against us?‘

Mattia (age 16)

My experience at the SPUC youth conference was quite overwhelming. It made me wake up and realise the extent to which abortion is a crime against human rights.

The array of talks that there were from how to be pro life on social media to the psychological effects abortion can have on a woman kept you eager to listen as you were always listening to something different. This was all of course accompanied by good laughs, new friends and a lot of food.

The talk that I will remember the most was the last one where Aisling Hubert showed us a video of an abortion taking place. I was instantly disgusted and teary eyed. However it was necessary to help us understand the horrors that take place within an abortion clinic. Straightaway I realised that I wasn’t doing enough to help these poor innocent and defenceless babies. This really pushed me to think where to go and what do next to further my journey as a pro-life activist and to expose the atrocities that take place within an abortion clinic but are so carefully swept under the carpet by today’s media and our modern day society.

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