April 28, 2012
A Brisbane father of seven is going to jail for 8 months for his efforts to protect the unborn. I spoke to him this week at his home in Brisbane and was awed by his courage so I told Jason Rushton about him.
Jason is a journalist with LifeSiteNews.com and tells the story much better than I can:
Graham Preston, 56, was called by police last week to arrange a time for his arrest. He negotiated to move it back from 8am to 9am this coming Wednesday, May 2, so he would have enough time to get his children to school. This 8 month sentence is the longest jail-term ever received by an Australian pro-life activist.
Mr. Preston will serve 232 days in prison – seeing him out just in time for Christmas – for refusing to pay roughly $8000 in fines that have accumulated after ten years of non-violently blocking the entrances of four abortion clinics around Brisbane.
Since beginning non-violent direct action with the group Protect Life almost exactly ten years ago (April 16, 2002), Mr. Preston has endured more than ten months in jail over five separate jail-terms – mostly in Brisbane’s maximum security Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre.
The warrant for Mr. Preston’s arrest came after he received a letter from the Queensland Justice Department telling him he had until April 6 – coincidentally, Good Friday – to pay the fines or else face prison.
Mr. Preston refuses to pay the fines on principle, arguing that trying to save the innocent from harm should not be regarded as criminal behaviour.
A similar letter was sent to Mr. Preston in 2010, although that time it was not followed up.
“Graham is amazingly humble. He doesn’t make a song and dance about his commitment,” said Anne Rampa, a fellow activist and mother of seven, who has herself been arrested more than twenty times over the last twenty years for protesting outside abortion clinics. “One thing he probably didn’t tell you is that he regularly meets with men who he met in jail, offering them hospitality and even legal help if he can.”
Mr. Preston’s wife Liz told LifeSiteNews.com that she was extremely proud of her husband: “I have immense respect for Graham. He is a very courageous person who has my full support in these actions. Facing the prospect of having Graham in jail for eight months is quite daunting – however we have always realised that challenging the abortion culture would be costly and we have tried to not allow the potential cost prevent us from doing what we believe is right.”
Graham’s daughter Frances, 18, said: “I have a lot of respect for my Dad and how he takes his convictions seriously, I hope I can live as consistent a life as his. Of course I will miss him, and I will visit him as often as possible.”
Daughter Suzannah, 8, said “I will miss him every day till he comes home in December, five days before Christmas. I will pray for him every night.”
When Mr. Preston’s fines reached $12,000 in 2004, the Governor of Queensland, Quentin Bryce, remitted half of them. (Fines for failing to follow police orders to move-on were remitted; fines for obstructing police were not. Mr. Preston appealed this decision since both charges were given by different police for the same action. The appeal failed in 2009.)
Normally in Queensland, a citizen receives one day in prison for every AUD $100 of unpaid fines. To deter Mr. Preston from ‘re-offending’, for most of the fines he will receive three days in prison for each hundred dollars.
Two years ago, Mr. Preston wrote on his website: “Going to jail is of course not a desirable thing, either for the person who does so, or for their family who may be very directly negatively affected. Yet our conviction is that this is probably an unavoidable part of seeing the value of all human lives given proper recognition. When anyone pays a very high price for something, it makes everyone ask the question, is it worth it? That is what we want our society to be asking, what are preborn babies worth? We want to say that babies’ lives are worth a person’s, or even many persons’, freedom.”
The reason we are sharing this story with you is because Graham Preston is a true Blue Aussie hero and he and his family need our support.
This is how you can help them:
- Contact your local paper or radio station, tell them Graham’s Prescott’s story and ask the question:
Why does a peaceful protestor get a longer jail sentence than someone convicted of a criminal activity? and
Why do criminals walk free and peaceful protestors have to serve time in jail?
- Write to the Queensland Attorney General by letter or email and ask the same questions:
Hon Jarrod Bleijie
Level 18, State Law Building
50 Ann Street
BRISBANE QLD 4000
Phone: 07 3247 9068
Fax: 07 3221 4352
- Tell your friends to do the same.
Together we can make a difference!
Yours for our children
The Canberra Declaration is the work of many people and organisations.
The administration of the initiative is being supported by the Australian Christian Values Institute and Australian Heart Ministries.