On June 26 the Supreme Court unanimously struck down a law requiring pro-lifers to stay 35 feet away from the entrance of an abortion clinic. The law, as it stood, would have prevented pro-lifers from approaching women to offer help and support.
Simply walking up to a woman and handing her a pamphlet about fetal development would be a crime, and the person doing it would be subject to arrest and jail time. Even holding a sign from a distance might be considered illegal if the person stands close enough for the woman to read it clearly.
A number of pro-choice sites and organizations are lamenting the decision, claiming that it allows pro-lifers to harass women outside abortion clinics. While, sadly, there have been legitimate reports of pro-lifers occasionally acting in a hateful or cruel manner, the vast majority of pro-life sidewalk counselors are peaceful.
How else could they convert so many abortion providers (over 100 in the last two years) and save hundreds and hundreds of children from abortion by convincing their mothers to carry through with their pregnancies?
In 2013, the peaceful and prayerful prolifers outside abortion clinics during 40 Days for Life convinced 476 abortion minded women to have their children. In another 40 Days for Life campaign in 2014, the official number was 547. If these counselors were screaming and yelling at women and harassing them, why would so many women listen to them, accept their offers of help, and decide to have their babies?
In contrast to their characterization of sidewalk counselors, pro-choicers often hail clinic escorts as heroes, bravely protecting women from the onslaught of pro-life hate. In many cases, however, it is the other way around. Pro-life activist George Grant describes what he witnessed outside an abortion clinic when he joined some pro-life activists there:
Every 30 minutes for the next 2 ½ hours, we watched as a fresh clutch of doe–eyed girls were whisked into the clinic by “pro-choice escorts.” They met the girls at their cars and quickly aimed them up the sidewalk. They snarled at our offers of help and batted away our literature. If a girl displayed the least hint of hesitation, the “escorts” would take her by the arm and rush her toward the door. So much for “choice.”
When, despite their best efforts, a frightened and confused teen slipped their grasp and turned aside to talk to one of the protesters, to read a gospel tract, the “escorts” flew into a frenzied rage. They lunged at the picket line. Taunting, jeering, cursing, and reviling, they tried to recapture their prey. One turned her contorted, wild eyed gaze toward me.
You pig,” she sputtered. “You damned, chauvinist pig. Let the girl go.”
I looked over my shoulder where the girl was kneeling in the grass, quietly praying with several picketers, utterly incognizant of the efforts of this thrashing, yammering champion for “choice.”
“Why don’t you go home? Mind your own business!” She was right in my face, yelling in my ear, shoving, red-faced, and livid. “You’re traumatizing the girl, you pig.”
She went on and on, clichés repeated like a worn-out record. But all to no avail. The girl was walking away, arm in arm with her newfound friends. She said she was keeping her baby.
Frustrated, the “escorts” retreated to the building. A quick conference ensued with the clinic director, 2 nurses, and a security guard. They were clearly disturbed and kept gesturing in our direction with stabbing fingers and malevolent stares. After a moment of haggling between themselves, they dispatched the guard, presumably to “restore order” to this now thoroughly unpleasant Saturday morning.”
Pro-life sidewalk counselors will tell you that nothing makes escorts angrier than a woman who changes her mind. In cases like this, one wonders whether these escorts are pro-choice or proabortion.
Source: George Grant Grand Illusions: the Legacy of Planned Parenthood (Franklin, Tennessee: Adroit Press, 1988, 1992) 17