Pro-lifers have to speak out against the trivialisation of human life happening all around them. They must do so calmly and charitably, of course, but without fudge or compromise. They must be politically active – committed to securing the full, equal protection of the law for all human life from conception to natural death.

But they must also roll up sleeves and do their best to provide the positive alternative to all the wrongdoing; otherwise their pro-life words will sound hollow, if not sanctimonious, and their political efforts will be largely unsuccessful.

Yes, there will be a tension between the educational/political and the caring. But it will be a healthy tension. Each needs the other. A freestanding care service can be in danger of ideological drift. The campaigner must remember that it is not enough to say “thou shalt not”; you have to help people “not to”. That is the more difficult bit.

Life was founded in 1970 precisely to promote the absolutist case (ie, to say no to all abortion, however hard the case) and to provide a comprehensive pro-life care service.

Only heaven knows how many women facing a crisis pregnancy have not gone down the abortion road because Life was able to give them emotional and practical support. Maybe thousands. Some 6,000 women made homeless by pregnancy have been accommodated in Life houses over the years.

In the early days clients came to Life care centres for free pregnancy testing, material help and advice. Then the national hotline became a major way of reaching them. Today they come in fast-growing numbers via the internet.

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