Students for Life of America is working to do something about this with their first National Pro-Life Generation Sidewalk Day, scheduled for Saturday, August 6th, at 30 locations across the country.
The event “is dedicated to compassionately and lovingly reaching out to women going into abortion facilities. The day is also meant to push back against the pervasive stereotype of sidewalk counseling that is prevalent in mainstream media, documentaries, and by the abortion industry itself,” a Thursday press release said.
SFLA President Kristan Hawkins also focused on the youth of the pro-life movement, hence the pro-life generation name. “As the face of the pro-life movement has been changing over the past several years to reflect a younger majority, the stereotype persists of screaming protestors outside of abortion facilities, but that is not who we are nor what we represent,” she said.
“What woman entering an abortion facility would want to engage in a possibly life-saving conversation with a person who is screaming at her? Our approach to sidewalk counseling is a compassionate and caring approach, one meant to help both the woman and her child.”
Attendees are encouraged to take a “compassion[ate],” loving and “vigilant” approach. They ought to know their stuff to “back up what you say” and take a prayerful, “peaceful, helpful, and goal-oriented” approach. (Here is interactive info on the development of a preborn child, at all stages, for those who need to study up.) Perhaps most important of all, “show each woman that you care about her not just the child.”
To not fall into the trap of what others have done outside abortion facilities who have not taken such a loving approach, attendees should not yell, be angry or grumpy or aggressive.
“This kind of behavior is cringe-worthy to watch and fearful for any woman entering an abortion facility. These extremists are not ‘pro-life’ as being pro-life means caring for mother and child” said Hawkins. “It is our hope that this pro-life life generation will be known for their compassion towards women considering abortion, for their relentless pursuit of help for these women – their own peers in most cases – and for their passion to ultimately make abortion unthinkable.”
It’s not always an easy experience to sidewalk counsel or be a prayerful witness outside of abortion facilities. Many women go in pregnant and come out having had an abortion. But, it can also be a rewarding experience to represent the pro-life movement in such a loving way. And of course there’s always the chance your presence is what helps save a preborn child’s life.
Sade Patterson of University of Mexico Students of Life shares real-life experiences of sidewalk counseling.
Julia has also been engaging in sidewalk counseling and ministry for years, and continues to do so. Part of her important mission also involves helping these women and children after they’re born.
That’s another important reminder about pro-lifers, and what distinguishes us from the abortion industry. Abortion is often sold as a quick fix to a pregnant woman’s problems, and too many sadly buy it. But if pro-lifers can reach these women first, we are there to help them before, during, after they give birth. Pro-lifers also help women even if they have had an abortion, through whatever problems they may face because of that decision – all with love, mercy, and forgiveness.
SFLA emphasizes loving both the mother and her preborn child, reminding us of a stark reality: sidewalk counselors are often the last people women see before entering the abortion facility.