National Abortion Federation president: Pro-life outreach during COVID-19 is ‘selfish’

abortion, arrested for praying

Episcopal priest and president of the National Abortion Federation (NAF), Rev. Dr. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, recently called for law enforcement to crack down on pro-life gatherings outside of abortion businesses. In a NAF press release from April 22, Ragsdale decried the actions of pro-lifers as “shameful,” accusing them of endangering people’s lives by continuing to reach out to abortion-vulnerable women during the coronavirus (COVID-19). 

“This is not only selfish–it’s dangerous,” Ragsdale said.  “In many places, these protesters are able to walk right up to patients as they enter or exit the facility or surround them as they walk to and from their cars.”

Ragsdale stated the behavior of pro-lifers is “threatening to patients.” She claimed to have heard reports of protestors coughing on clinic escorts, as well as touching women and abortionists as they entered the facility. Though she cited concerns about CDC guidelines not being followed, she did not condemn the behavior of abortion workers witnessed by pro-lifers. 

National Abortion Federation

Rev. Katherine Ragsdale attends the OUT celebration of The OUT100 at Skylight Soho on November 17, 2011 in New York City. (Getty images)

READ: Dedicated pro-life sidewalk counselors continue to reach women during COVID-19

In just one example, a security guard at a Trust Women clinic in Wichita, Kansas placed a bag of vomit in the hand of a pro-life sidewalk counselor. Recently, the Hope Clinic for Women in Granite City, Illinois, packed as many as 40 patients into a waiting room all at once. An injured woman was sent to the hospital, and as pro-lifers gathered outside the facility looked on in concern, a staff member smiled and gave a thumbs-up.

As the abortion industry uses the pandemic to expand access to abortion, women are being put at risk for complications. Serious side effects from a surgical or a non-surgical abortion may require a woman to seek emergency care at a hospital that’s already flooded with COVID-19 patients. Even worse, the abortion industry has admitted that its employees use “very little” protective gear when performing procedures on patients — this, despite abortion organizations publicly begging for PPE.


The industry’s insistence on conducting abortions during COVID-19 places women in danger, but ironically, it’s pro-lifers Ragsdale accused of caring “more about their personal agenda than the health, well-being, or lives of anyone.” 

She expressed dissatisfaction at cases in San Francisco and Detroit where the First Amendment rights of pro-lifers were protected, but Ragsdale neglected to mention a crucial point in her criticism. In both instances, the pro-life groups outside of the abortion businesses were practicing social distancing when they were unjustifiably given a fine by law enforcement. It’s also worth noting that in the incident in Detroit, Andrew Belanger had been alone. 

In a more egregious case, a group of pro-lifers was arrested for peacefully praying outside an abortion center in North Carolina. Ragsdale attempted to use this as another example of pro-life people ignoring safety guidelines, but less than 10 people had been ministering on the sidewalk, demonstrating a mindfulness for health recommendations. 

Nonetheless, Ragsdale called on law enforcement to “enforce current orders to restrict gatherings and travel.” In another twist of irony, Ragsdale insisted that “anti-abortion movement” leaders tell their followers to stop “blatantly ignor[ing] public health guidance and condemn protests and gatherings outside abortion clinics.”

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