Anti-abortion message spreading
Graphic videos showing the reality of abortion are part of the changing tide of Voice for Life and their growing younger audience.
Voice for Life, an anti-abortion group formerly known as SPUC, held a meeting in Stratford for its Taranaki members last night where national president Bernard Moran was speaking about developments within the organisation.
Mr Moran is the first male president in 25 years and although membership sits around 9000 it's a far cry from the 46,000 members they had in the 1970s when the group was founded.
"We now have things like graphic videos on pro-life websites that have a lot of strict warnings around viewing them but are widely watched and make the process more realistic for people," he said.
In the last two years more than 400 Auckland University students have become active Voice for Life members and Mr Moran says the interest from the younger generation came completely out of the blue.
"We don't really know how it happened other than one of our members in Christchurch started to spread the word through the internet and it just took off," he said.
"We're at a point of transition and have made a lot of changes to our website and are aware we now need to use things like social media to drive discussions and education."
Mr Moran said other universities across the country have students setting up pro-life groups and attracting members.
Other changes for the organisation are recent court decisions acknowledging rules around the legal rights of an unborn child.
Mr Moran says a Court of Appeal ruling in June 2011 questioned whether a lack of legal rights for an unborn child were based simply on convenience.
"The judge stated that the law that an unborn child is not a human being and has no rights is founded on convenience rather than medical or moral principle and that was a big win for us," he said.
"Voice for Life is about educating and helping people. We don't get involved in the court proceedings but another group called Right to Life in Christchurch is always pursuing legal change through the courts."
In his younger days Mr Moran started reading about the Holocaust, and then the civil rights movement kicked off in the United States and he began asking questions.
"I grew up in a time where blacks were called niggers and Jews were called Yids and people were treated as sub-human.
"Then abortion came up and the idea that babies were just cells and not human and that just didn't sit right with me," he said.
Now 67, Mr Moran joined the anti-abortion movement in 1970 and before his president's role he was a journalist.
"I got more and more vocal within Voice for Life and ended up becoming the national president," he said.
In days gone by women didn't receive help when dealing with an unwanted birth and abortion was sold as an answer to their problems, he said. "The attraction of abortion was a promise that all would be OK afterwards and they would go back to normal."
Mr Moran grew up without a father and instead had two mothers, his birth mother and his mother's sister.
"Adoption obviously plays a part in what Voice for Life is trying to achieve but the concept of gay adoption isn't widely talked about within the organisation so I couldn't say what the feeling is within the group," he said.
He said changes to the future direction of the anti-abortion group were exciting.
"We're really going to have to lift our game to keep in touch," he said.
Taranaki Daily News