An Education with 'Life'

Tuesday, 3 April 2012 - Posted by rosielucocq at 10:21

On Tuesday the 6th March my C of E sixth form was joined by a Mr Gooch from the organisation ‘Life’. There was an uneasy sentiment to the crowd, and the majority of students were not painting a pretty picture of what was to come. This, of course, was to be expected from a group of 17 and 18 year olds; if there ever was a ‘prime age group’, we were surely it.
Naturally, we all had the immediate immature reaction to the notion that his name was ‘gooch’. Laugh now, then continue.
Mr Gooch began by explaining to us the importance of learning two sides of an argument before we form an opinion, an ironic statement from a one-sided ‘debate’ in a ‘religious’ school. The idea of abortion had not yet been mentioned; I found the beginning section of the PowerPoint dull and pointless. I think we were expecting a little bit more of a song-and-dance (albeit a preachy one) and a touch more finesse from the organisation, I was a little disappointed with the mind-numbing presentation.
I have a passion for all things political and all thing women, and it would appear that Mr Gooch clearly doesn’t. I’m not making this a personal attack, I too would be terrified of standing in front of a crowd delivering a presentation that people are looking to find fault in. However, Gooch’s pussy-footing around the subject was both irritating and actually a little demeaning. One of my personal highlights was when he showed us a newspaper article from his ‘old school’ (Oxford), the article was on something Pro-Life related. This led to him explain that ‘couples’ never say ‘we’re having a fetus!’ – But I ask you now, who says ‘we’re aborting our baby’ Mr Gooch? I assume Mr Gooch clearly hadn’t researched the two sides of his argument.
But then the presentation got interesting. We were told a story about a 28 year old girl who wanted a car seat but was offered an abortion from Planned Parenthood in the US. We weren’t told about the women that Planned Parenthood had helped in other ways, we just had the idea of PP being a sadistic abortion mill and little else thrust upon us. Gooch then explained how there were 198,500 abortions performed in 2007. Cool. Then we were told that told that 90% of disabled children are aborted. A highly emotive statement to use, the one-sided debate prevails again.  The obvious assault factor wasn’t mentioned, neither the mother’s mental health nor her own physical health.
So, we were then instructed to sit in groups and discuss what we had witnessed. But there was no passionate debate, no sudden backlash from the crowd... To be honest, we were all incredibly bored and Mr Gooch is not a charismatic character. We were all given a pack on the presentation, an argument offered in the pamphlet was that abortion is detrimental to a women’s mental and physical health. There were no statistics offered, no concrete evidence. I looked to our specialist in the subject – Gooch – to hear some cold, hard facts, asking him how an abortion mentally damages a women; I think I was expecting a response full of real zeal. Of course, Gooch had no statistics and just looked uncomfortable.
The question and answer section was by far the best bit – each question for Gooch was responded by squirming and skirting round subjects. A certain lack of assertion was missing; Gooch claimed that an abortion after a rape could sort of be okay because it’s sort of a bad situation to be in and it’s sort of something that those who haven’t been through a rape then a pregnancy scare can’t even try to envisage nor assume an opinion – sort of. Gooch gave a (albeit fuzzy) pro-choice answer.
In stark contrast to what I was expecting, ‘Life’ had organised a debate that wasn’t a debate and a presentation that lacked any kind of enthusiasm – apart from a few controversial statistics. I left the hall with a numb bum and a clearer sense of my personal belief, they had assured me that it was indeed my choice; all I had been taught in the 2 hours was that it was ‘my life’ at the end of the day, and not theirs.