Yesterday we had our monthly pro-life prayer vigil in the slip road outside our local NHS hospital. We were joined by a visiting Indian priest. Usually we are a small group of lay people so it was good to have a priestly presence among us, and to be blessed by him at the end. On this occasion a young man came up to us and asked politely if he could take a photograph of the group, with our pro-life posters, to put on his Facebook page. We all agreed it would be a good thing – especially as the usual reaction is either hostile or puzzled looks from those going past in their cars.
What good does our small group do? It’s impossible to say. The point is simply to be a regular and visible presence outside the hospital in order to remind people about what is permitted behind its doors and perhaps do a bit of “consciousness raising” on the subject. There are other ways of doing this, of course, and not everyone feels able to actually stand on a street corner holding a placard, but it still feels important to be there.
I note in a recent article from Alateia that in Washington DC pro-lifers have thought of a novel way to try to spread the pro-life message: since last year they have been allowed to sell “choose life” speciality license plates, which show a cartoon drawing of two smiling children with the caption “choose life” under them. Washington has now joined 29 other states that sell or permit these license plates, which cost only $25 a year. Since the idea began in 2000, 900,000 license plates have been sold or renewed and nearly $20 million has been raised for different pro-life causes.
Larry Cirignano of the Children First Foundation, which oversees the sale and renewal of these license plates in Washington DC commented that “no-one has been pulled over while driving for being pro-life; no cars have been scratched or keyed; and no incidents of road rage have been reported.” He added the interesting fact that “many drivers are adopted themselves or are adoptive parents who are proud to talk about the importance of being open to adoption.” His aim is to have 1,000 license plates on the road and thinks that achieving 200 will be “the tipping point” when they will start to generate themselves.
I was particularly interested in this initiative because for the last 7 or 8 years I have displayed a car boot sticker on my car with the caption “Have Mercy on the Unborn”, accompanied by a large red heart. Again, I have never been challenged about this and nor has my car been damaged. Yet when other Catholics remark on the sticker and I tell them I have a supply so can give them one too, they almost always decline, on the grounds that it might cause trouble of some sort. Even when I tell them that in my own experience it does nothing of the kind, they still say excuse themselves. Perhaps it’s too in-your face, too demonstrative, too political?
More rarely (but it does happen) people have spontaneously asked me how they can get hold of a similar sticker for their own car. This once even happened in the Tesco car park. And once a woman followed me home in her car to ask if I had any more that I could give her. It turned out she was a member of a pro-life organisation.
So I carry on. The caption is a gentle appeal to other drivers – a non-aggressive, subliminal message. Just imagine the effect if if thousands of cars on our roads adopted them.
The Catholic Herald comment guidelines
•Do not make personal attacks on writers or fellow commenters – respond only to their arguments.