The Good Counsel Network, which is dedicated to providing advice and support for women contemplating abortion, or who are suffering psychological trauma following an abortion, has been threatened with legal action by Marie Stopes International (MSI).
MSI, of course, is an immensely rich organisation because of the massive number of abortions it carries out, and it can afford very expensive lawyers. Through them, MSI has accused the Good Counsel Network of “intimidating” women going into their abortion facility in London. What particularly annoys them is their daily prayer vigil outside the Marie Stopes abortion facility in Whitfield Street, London. Good Counsel Network says that these “abortuary vigils” give volunteers the opportunity to talk to women who are in crisis pregnancies, but insist that they would not attempt directly to prevent any woman from entering the MSI premises. Among MSI’s complaints is that during their prayer vigils the GCN display rosary beads in “baby pink and blue”: a really under the belt tactic, that. Reminding women contemplating abortion of the existence of babies? Surely not.
Neil Addison, barrister director of the Thomas More Legal Centre, is representing GCN. In his response to a letter from MSI, he says Marie Stopes International is itself indulging in a campaign of intimidation by using its vastly superior financial resources to deploy the law to rid itself of a group that is becoming increasingly embarrassing to the abortion giant. “Let us be blunt,” Addison wrote to MSI’s legal representatives. “Marie Stopes International makes a great deal of money by persuading women to kill their unborn babies and makes no money if women decide to keep their babies.” They are “by no stretch of the imagination a neutral and impartial voice” and have a “substantial financial interest in trying to silence” opposition.
What is interesting is the prominence this organisation still gives to its trademark heroine, Marie Stopes, as though flaunting this woman’s name were in some way a sign that what they do is honourable and of good repute. Marie Stopes is undoubtedly still a heroine of the bien pensant left: so much so that the Royal Mail will, in October, be launching a postage stamp bearing her image. Go to the Guardian website, here, and you will read, under the headline “Marie Stopes is one of the Great Britons”, how last year the BBC announced its viewers’ “Greatest Britons” (evidence, perhaps, of the PR skills employed to get her into that list). Marie Stopes International, we are told, “derives its name from a remarkable lady who made it into the top 100”.
“Women,” asks this Guardian website piece, “can you imagine your body being the property of your husband?” [if not, I am tempted to interject, try reading that huge women’s bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey]. “Being permanently pregnant through ignorance? Then thank Dr Marie Stopes. The lifestyle and personal fulfilment enjoyed by British women today owes more than many realise to this remarkable character…
“She founded Britain’s first family planning centre in 1921, published numerous articles and spoke extensively on the subject throughout the rest of her life. Determined, single-minded, relishing challenge and controversy, with staggering self-confidence and an outrageous talent for publicity, Marie Stopes succeeded in improving the quality of life for countless women, couples and families. She was and is truly a Great Briton.”
Really? A “Great Briton”? Well, not quite: on the contrary, this was a truly repulsive human being. For a start, let me tell you, if you didn’t know already, about that family planning centre she opened in 1921. Later the same year she founded the “Society for Constructive Birth Control and Racial Progress”, as a support organisation for the clinic. That name is, of course, a dead give-away. The clinic’s purpose was to prevent the birth of so many of the racially inferior working class, of those she described as “the inferior, the depraved, and the feeble-minded”. That’s why her clinics were founded in poor areas. Her slogan was: “Joyful and Deliberate Motherhood, A Safe Light in our Racial Darkness.” She believed, as she wrote in her book Radiant Motherhood (1920), that “the sterilisation of those totally unfit for parenthood [should be] made an immediate possibility, indeed made compulsory.” She contributed a chapter to The Control of Parenthood (1920), which was a sort of manifesto for her circle of eugenicists, arguing for a “utopia” to be achieved through “racial purification”.
Her ideas on racial purity included a rabid anti-Semitism. She admired Hitler and sent him, with a gushing letter, a copy of a slim volume of love poems she had written; in 1935 she attended the Nazi-sponsored International Congress for Population Science in Berlin. Her anti-Semitism was noted disapprovingly by other pioneers of the birth control movement such as Havelock Ellis. She was also anti-Catholic and anti-Russian; the following poetic gem was produced in 1942:
The Jews and the Russians,
All are a curse,
Or something worse…
At least, by 1942, she realised that for an Englishwoman publicly to continue to admire German militarism wasn’t very clever; but her anti-Semitism and her racism were unmodified.
Back to the organisation which so proudly bears her name: the most admirably expressed comment about both of them that I have seen in the papers (well, online, actually) was, as so often and on so many subjects, by the estimable Peter Hitchens, who under the headline “Abortion and its repellent heroine”, wrote that “Marie Stopes International (which receives about £25 million a year from the NHS, much of it for killing unborn babies under contract) should be allowed to advertise its repellent services on TV. But on one condition. That each advertisement is followed by both of these: film of an actual abortion of a 24-week-old baby, and a brief documentary reminding viewers that Marie Stopes sent love poems to Adolf Hitler in August 1939, advocated compulsory sterilisation for the ‘unfit’, and cut her own son out of her will because he married a girl who wore glasses.”
“What sort of organisation,” he concludes, “would name itself after such a monstrous woman?” The unspoken answer — the multi-million-pound group Marie Stopes International — is at present seeking to protect its income by legally threatening an organisation which makes no profits at all, which depends on donations to survive (readers, please note), and whose only aim is to defend the unborn lives of those currently being slaughtered in such vast numbers by such organisations as MSI, an image of whose flagship heroine will shortly be gracing our postage stamps. Truly, it’s a mad, mad world.