Sidewalk Counseling: The Groundwork of the Pro-Life Movement

There is a school of thought  among some pro-life advocates that those who work at Planned Parenthood, or any abortion clinic for that matter, are “raunchy and rude,” or have “so much hate in their hearts.” At the same time, however, when the popular film Unplanned was first released, it gave us a fresh perspective of these workers. They are human: they have hearts and are volunteers just like us. 

It was with this perspective that I sidewalk counseled at the Planned Parenthood in Aurora and with this perspective that I walked up to the Family Planning Associates Center in Chicago this past Saturday.

Chicago Pro-Life Future, a casual pro-life group geared towards adults ages 18-25, hosted their first event of this year on Saturday, March 6th. We met at Family Planning Associates, an abortion clinic, to pray and sidewalk counsel. Many people who were there also stood on the highway bridge holding signs to show the cars going by.

I was one of the only people present who was actually trained in sidewalk counseling, so naturally I decided to take the lead and stand by the clinic doors, as I have done so many times at the Aurora Planned Parenthood.

As my friend and I were walking across the street however, I sensed a hostility not present at the clinics I had been to before. There were fifteen to twenty clinic escorts, a daunting number compared to the one or two who would usually be present at the Aurora clinic, and they were all staring at my friend and me as we crossed the street towards the clinic.

We walked up next to the escorts, standing near the “Drop off” sign, and were immediately attacked by vile and repulsive comments. Riddled with curse words and shouting, the escorts started attacking both my friend and I with ad hominem attacks. “Get a boyfriend, get a life!” They yelled at us. “Stop harassing women… you are the reason this country is messed up.”

Both my friend and I were shocked: we knew that this was how clinic escorts were often portrayed, but the only ones I had ever seen were nothing like this. The ridicule and personal attacks continued for hours, and at one point they even called the police with a plea for help, saying that we were yelling at the women and approaching them, both of which were not true.

Every time a woman would approach the door, I would ask her if she wanted options. Most of the time my voice was drowned out by the clinic escorts and the woman would look away, but there was one woman I will never forget.

She was there with her mother and what seemed to be a sister or close friend. As they got out of the car, I asked if she would like options. “This IS her option,” the mother gave me a death glare, but the woman going in looked at me, as if she wanted to know more. 

“I can give you the number to a place where they can give you more options,” I told her, “Or, I can give you my number and I will help you.” The mother then pushed her daughter towards the clinic escorts and said, “Go in. Right now,” As the escorts brought her inside, forcefully and talking loudly, there was nothing I could do but watch her go in.

It was only after this experience that I realized how truly important it is for us to be there. Sidewalk counseling is often shied away from, especially by the younger pro-life generation, because it is very, very uncomfortable and often one does not see the fruits. However, if we aren’t there to give women other options, then who will?

The good news is, on that day, a baby was potentially saved. One of the young men in our group spoke to a Hispanic woman going in saying, in Spanish, “Jesus loves you.” The woman walked out, and although nothing more was heard from her, we think the baby was saved.

Pregnancy counseling is the groundwork of the pro-life movement: it is the closest we can possibly get to these women who desperately need help, and for this reason we should jump to help and participate whenever and as often as we can. If we aren’t there, no one else will be, and if no one is there to stop the women going in, hundreds of children will continue to be killed every day. In addition, hundreds of mothers and countless others will be left with a lifetime of heartache and regret.