Are We Willing To Pay the Price?

As with all important things in life, it is always necessary that we be willing to put our money where our mouth is. That is, we may speak of things that are wrong or in need of change, but are we really willing to actually do something about it? Are we willing to get our hands dirty, to take a risk, to be willing to pay the price for our convictions?

For example, it is fairly easy and safe to run a blog site. Sure, I get plenty of hate mail. There seem to be lots of really nasty and bitter people who seek to post anonymous comments on this site. Some of the things they say would make your hair stand up. But I can quickly delete these vicious remarks. So my work is relatively painless.

But other people who fight the good fight are doing more than just warning, or pleading, or making their case. They are willing to stand up and be counted in a very real way. Consider the abortion debate, for example. Many are willing to write about it, or warn about it. But very few are willing to take their pro-life convictions and put them to the test. Very few are willing to protest outside of abortion clinics, and take the risk of being arrested.

One Queensland pro-lifer has been doing this for a number of years now. He has spent a fair amount of time in prison, in order that some unborn babies do not have to be killed. His name is Graham Preston, and his story deserves to be told.

I here offer his most recent newsletter. He had been expecting to spend another stint in jail, when to his surprise he was acquitted. I offer below – without further comment – his own words. Please keep him in your prayers. And let his story challenge you about how dedicated you are to making a difference in this world.

24 April, 2007

Dear friends,

It was quite a surprise, but I’m very glad to be able to say that I am home again from prison. Anyone who has had to spend significant periods of time away from family will know how it really helps you appreciate how much they mean to you, so it is good to be back. (And so say all of us!! – Liz and the children)

Yesterday when I went to court Liz and I had mentally prepared ourselves for the likelihood that I would be spending a few more months in prison so it took a bit of quick readjusting when we heard the magistrate say that I was acquitted. (But even after being acquitted I still had to be handcuffed and taken downstairs to a tiny cell until the paperwork was finished.) As good as it is to be out though, the only downside is that the acquittal was based on a legal technicality rather the real issues relating to abortion.

The police had presented their evidence against me (one policeman landed a really low blow by stating that he had seen an ‘elderly man’ (me!!) sitting on the ‘clinic’ stairway!) and I was just about to start my defence when the magistrate suggested he thought it might be a waste of time. I couldn’t believe he said that as I thought he meant I didn’t have a chance (I have had this magistrate before so he largely knew my defence). But instead he went on to say that he thought that I had no case to answer! So for the next hour I just sat back and listened as the magistrate and the police prosecutor argued back and forth until, happily, the magistrate won the argument and I was acquitted.

It had come out in the evidence that there was only about five seconds between the time the police told me to leave or I would be arrested and the time I was actually told I was under arrest. The conversation had been taped and the tape was played to the court so it couldn’t be denied. The legislation about trespass specifically states that the police are supposed to give a reasonable amount of time for a person to explain why they are allegedly trespassing before they can be arrested. This magistrate said that five seconds wasn’t long enough and so that was sufficient for me to get off.

The crazy thing is that the previous time I was arrested when doing another sit-in we were given only a few seconds then too but that magistrate said that was enough time. I actually appealed that decision and the judge in the District Court agreed with the magistrate so I lost the appeal. In view of that maybe this decision on Monday will be appealed by the police so it mightn’t be finished with yet.

This time at Woodford prison was similar in many respects to my previous times at the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre. Both are high security prisons so there is very limited opportunity to move around. That is probably the most challenging aspect I find of being in prison – you can’t get away from it – which I guess is to state the obvious! Sometimes though when I couldn’t tune out the constant coarseness of the language and subject matter of the men at the tables around me in the general living area I would go out into the haze of cigarette smoke in the exercise yard (at least a ban on indoor smoking was enforced) only all too often to be bombarded by annoyingly loud death-metal type ‘music’! Then there were the occasional fights – it didn’t take much to set them off. That made the times we had out on the oval in the relatively peaceful, open, fresh air a delight.

Many afternoons after our evening meal (sometimes this would be brought in as early as 3.30pm!) there would be a game of volleyball in our unit’s exercise yard before we were locked down for the night. But this was not volleyball as you might know it! It should have been called ‘dangerball’ and was not for the faint-hearted! Unique prison rules applied and you were at almost as much risk of getting your head knocked off by your own team-mates hitting the ball as by the opposition. But I enjoyed playing despite being hit in the face more than once which resulted in the frame of my glasses snapping. Fortunately a resourceful fellow prisoner managed to get the glasses to hold together using a bent paper clip until I got replacement pair about 10 days later (I struggle to see much without them.)

I had a continuous stream of requests for drawings to be done of prisoners’ children, wives/girlfriends, pets, trucks, cars, motorbikes, and the prisoners themselves. I really enjoyed doing them, it helped me improve my skills, and above all it helped open the door for many good conversations with men who may never have spoken to me otherwise. Prison is a world of its own and most of the inmates come from very different backgrounds to my own but despite these challenges it was not all bad and I was able to develop many friendships. And once again it amazed me how sympathetic the men were to our stand against abortion.

As far as the future goes, for myself, I will not be risking getting arrested for the next couple of months for the sake of my family. (Liz found this last time especially demanding with family responsibilities, running the Pregnancy Problem Centre, and studying, so once again we ask if anyone knows a pro-life female tertiary student who would like free board, should I go back to prison again in the future, we’d like to hear from them!) We are also always happy to talk (obligation free) with anyone who may be considering the possibility of being involved in the actions.

Graham Preston

“As long as the world shall last there will be wrongs and if no man objected and no man rebelled, those wrongs would last forever.” (Clarence Darrow)

[1360 words]

8 Replies to “Are We Willing To Pay the Price?”

  1. Thanks, Tas for the link.

    Quoting from the article:
    “In instances where the mother’s life may be at real risk during pregnancy, then everything possible must be done to save the mother and child.”

    We know a wonderful family in NSW where the mother suffered a heart attack half-way through her pregnancy.

    With prayer, careful non-invasive medical attention, and plenty of rest, baby Mercy was born naturally at full-term, by which time there was no need for anything drastic like heart surgery.

    I believe there is almost always a life-preserving alternative available.

    John Angelico

  2. Indeed it is as Bill says rather easier to give lip service to pro-life causes than to actually do something that may threaten our liberty. I had the pleasure of meeting Graham a few years ago and told him he was one of only a few Christians in the entire nation who were acting consistently with what many of us claim to believe (that abortion is murder).

    In fact it was because of Graham’s example and the fact that I was embarrassed at my own apathy that I joined RTLA and last year took the family down to Melbourne to attend the Freedom to be Born March. I think that joining RTLA is the very least we should do as Christians. It is only about $50 per year. If you are a Victorian I can also highly recommend the Freedom to be Born march as something that is extremely well organised and a pleasure to be a part of.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria

  3. Thanks Dale

    No I am not. It was Graham who quoted him. But since this post is on abortion, we will not go down the path of either agnosticism or Darwinism, which he of course is famous for.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  4. What good people Graham and Liz Preston are – they prick the conscience of us all. Here in Canberra, 4 babies a day are killed in the name of “family planning” and convenience. I don’t know anyone doing anything directly about this, me included. And it is all so respectable, so white-collar, so middle-class (how I hate to use this term) and “normal”. After all, it is just a “procedure” isn’t it? Just like having a wart removed. And the little miracle of God’s creation is just a “clump of tissue” isn’t it? A young mum goes into hospital pregnant and comes back without her baby, for the rest of her days wondering what might have been and trying to push it to the back-burner of her mind.
    Church, we HAVE to do something about this.
    Ian Brearley, Canberra

  5. Thanks Bill,
    One thing is for sure, that God is for life and when we offer prayers to God to intervene in our case when life is threatened, He sure does. One does not have to abort innocent babies to come to terms with how sinful it is in both in the eyes of men and God. Blessings do come to our lives as soon as the baby arrives in the family, and those things that makes us unhappy and afraid when pregnancies come are reduced to nothing before your eyes by the grace of God, who enables us to cater for the new child in the family, whether to a single parent or to married couples.
    Albert Kamau

  6. Thank you God! I hold a yellow pages large advert for days advertising an abortion clinic and scream God why is someone not doing something? Then I see this page. Thanks to Bill for introducing Graham. Yes, I want to do more then read from the comfort of my heated home. I spent a year in Vietnam and thought I was doing it hard, no prison, bearings, dying, I recall those are the things the bible speaks of. No wonder the world is apathetic, Christians set the pace and tone – watch and wait – maybe a few dozens in prison may rock the boat a little more? I see an era of martyrdom, no not for the east but for the west. If we can’t die for our faith then what is it we are really made of?
    Ilona Sturla

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