Anti-abortion protester says she has saved over a dozen babies
“It should always be done with respect for the person and just offering them love and support.”
Julie James has been cautioned by police, had a giant cup of cola poured over her head and even been threatened with death. But this Sydney mother of ten is unapologetic about demonstrating outside abortion clinics.
She considers it a privilege that she has saved half a dozen babies by offering her love and support to women approaching abortion clinics – and another ten babies through her telephone pregnancy counselling work.
“I found there were girls there who were looking for help but they hadn’t known how to get help – they hadn’t known about these pregnancy help centres or hadn’t been able to find the number in the telephone book,” she says.
“I think it’s taking away people’s freedoms.” – Julie James
Julie was speaking to Eternity at her home in Sydney’s Cherrybrook in the wake of the first conviction of an anti-abortion protester for breaching Victoria’s ‘safe access zone’ legislation. Kathleen Clubb, who attempted to give pamphlets to a couple entering a Melbourne clinic, and Julie James both belong to the pro-life group, Helpers of God’s Precious Infants. The group’s members maintain vigils outside abortion clinics.
Tasmania is the only other state to have exclusion zone laws which require anti-abortion protesters to keep 150 metres away from clinics. Julie believes it’s important to resist moves to introduce these “bubble zones,” such as was included in a bill debated in NSW parliament earlier this year. The bill was defeated.
“I think it’s taking away people’s freedoms because there are three people I’ve dealt with who have all said, ‘I wish there was somebody to stop me; my mother included,’” she says.
She quotes Jaya Taki, who earlier this year told the media that NRL star Tim Simona had forced her to have an abortion.
“The Right to Life people got her to speak to the NSW parliament when this bill was being debated. She said, ‘you have got to allow people to be at these clinics because that would have saved my baby.’ She found no other support anywhere.”
“It should always be done with respect for the person and just offering them love and support.” – Julie James
While Julie knows that her behaviour is controversial, even among Christians, she believes passionately that she needs to speak up for those who have no voice.
“You watch these movies about people who’ve risked their lives to save children or free slaves, and I keep thinking ‘these children don’t have a voice, they’re voiceless.’ In the gospel, Jesus keeps telling us to help our brothers and sisters. Well, these are our brothers and sisters and I’m constantly being reminded this is my duty as a Christian to do this,” she says.
“I mean, children are suffering all over the world, but somehow I feel there are voices for those children. There are a lot of NGOs looking after those children, but these little ones have no one to speak for them.”
That said, she does not agree with brandishing placards showing aborted foetuses or harassing women.
“When you see those children, it makes up for all the abuse, it really does.” – Julie James
“I don’t think there should ever be any physical or verbal confrontation. It should always be done with respect for the person and just offering them love and support. And I don’t know anywhere [that protesters] do harassing of mums. I think the whole movement has become based on prayer.”
Anti-abortion campaigners are often criticised for being pro-life but not pro-baby or pro-woman, but this pocket dynamo puts her money where her mouth is in helping women in difficult circumstances to continue their pregnancies. She has taken into her home several at-risk pregnant women – sometimes alcoholics and drug addicts – and even fostered a baby who had been saved from termination after his mother was deported to China.
“I had Derek till he was about three and then I felt his father had matured a lot. We worked with him slowly and eventually he said ‘I want to keep him full-time,’” she explains.
“When you see those children, it makes up for all the abuse, it really does. My whole family grieved for little Derek because he brought so much happiness.”
At the moment, Julie is talking to a family who are thinking of aborting because they’ve been told their baby has a heart condition and might die after birth or be severely disabled.
“The evil one hates mothers, he hates families, he hates children, he wants to take everyone away from our loving father.” – Julie James
“I said ‘I’m happy to look after the baby’ because sometimes there’s pressure on people from the doctors saying, ‘you’re not going to be able to look after this baby, it will be very expensive, very time-consuming.’ This is just a young couple, they’re studying and they don’t really want to abort, but if they’ve got someone to look after the baby…”
Julie became involved in the pro-life movement soon after she became a Christian at age 16. She was influenced by a controversial video, The Silent Scream, which purports to show a 12-week-old foetus on ultrasound opening its mouth wide while trying to avoid the cannula that sucked it out of the womb. Her horror deepened when she saw photographs of aborted foetuses that had been reassembled by nurses to ensure nothing had been left behind.
“The funny thing is, I didn’t find out until maybe 30 years after I started working with Right to Life and trying to educate people that my own mother had two abortions, so I’ve lost two of my siblings,” Julie reveals.
“She was grieving until the end of her life but she used to get very angry with me when I would talk in black and white about people who have abortions. Before I started doing my pregnancy counselling training I had no idea what women were going through – the grieving.”
As part of her counselling activities, Julie now helps women who have had abortions come to terms with their grief.
“I actually come home from counselling and I collapse for the rest of the day because it’s terribly draining emotionally, but I feel privileged in a way to be given that opportunity because so many people have come to me. The sad thing is there’s no government funding for this type of work and these are our Australian children.”
Asked how she copes with the abuse that she has copped for her protest activities, Julie says it is nothing compared with what Jesus Christ suffered on the cross, even though he was totally innocent.
“The evil one hates mothers, he hates families, he hates children, he wants to take everyone away from our loving father. He will do everything he can to intimidate and harass you and take you away from that mission,” she says.