Respected British pro-life leader Phyllis Bowman passed away at the age of 85 after battling illness. Bowman was the first president of the for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) in January 1967 and left that group to found Right to Life, for a more political effort in England.
“We regret to learn of the death on Monday 7 May 2012 of Mrs Phyllis Bowman, SPUC’s former National Director,” SPUC said in an email about her passing.
The statement continued: “Phyllis Bowman inspired and led the growth of SPUC, the world’s first pro-life organization of its kind, from its foundation in 1967 until she stepped down as national director in 1996. She was present, and as a successful journalist was appointed press secretary, at the founding meeting of SPUC at the Wig and Pen Club, on 11 January 1967. She became SPUC’s first national director in the early 1970s. We will always remember and be grateful for her energetic and inspiring pro-life leadership over three decades in Britain and Northern Ireland, as well as for her leading role in the development of the pro-life movement internationally. We extend our deep sympathy to Jerry, her husband, who always supported Phyllis in her pro-life work, and to her family.”
Bowman’s reach in terms of her impact on the pro-life movement was felt “across the pond” in the United States.
“Phyllis was a very dear friend and a towering figure in the pro-life community throughout the United Kingdom and Europe. I’m sure there were many spared lives because of her efforts. We often communicated by phone and I will sorely miss Phyllis’ spunk and tenacity on behalf of innocent human life,” Brad Mattes, of Life Issues Institute, told LifeNews.
Father Frank Pavone, of Priests for Life, added, “Phyllis Bowman served the pro-life cause in Britain, throughout Europe, and around the world. In every country where I have traveled, veteran pro-life leaders have spoken of her with reverence and gratitude. I join my voice to theirs.”
The Catholic Herald also noted other pro-life leaders who praised Bowman:
Ann Widdecombe, the former Home Office Minister and Conservative MP, said: “Phyllis Bowman’s contribution to the pro-life cause was unique but her work will be carried on and she is probably already getting the heavenly hosts organized. Right to Life has lost a much-loved founder and all of us a much-loved friend. The biggest tribute we can pay her is to ensure her vigorous defense of the helpless unborn child continues unabated.”
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Catholic crossbench peer Lord Alton of Liverpool said: “For half a century Phyllis has been an indefatigable champion of the unborn child and for the sanctity of human life. Her tireless efforts, right up to her final illness and last days, serve as an inspiration to the next generation. She was an extraordinarily talented woman, utterly dedicated, highly articulate, politically shrewd and the possessor of an encyclopedic memory.”
Chris Whitehouse, secretary of the Catholic Legislators’ Network and a trustee of the Right to Life Charitable Trust, said: “Phyllis Bowman was one of the key foundation stones upon which the world pro-life movement was built. Her legacy is that despite the rising tide of the culture of death, hundreds of thousands are alive today who would otherwise have been slaughtered in the womb; and that the United Kingdom has to date resisted the introduction of euthanasia. She was a lantern of hope in the dark, and will continue to shine through the generations of young pro-lifers whom she inspired.”