Volunteering at an Abortion Clinic, From the Other Side of the Street
Guest Blog Post By By Jill Gadwood
I completely agree with the subtitle of the recent BuzzFeed article on abortion which was posted by a member of their staff on November 4th, 2015: “Anyone who really wants to understand what’s at stake in the debate over abortion should spend some time outside the places where it happens.”
Except, don’t be surprised if you show up to an abortion clinic and there are no men screaming at teenage rape victims while the volunteer escorts hand them tissues. While we will assume that this did actually happen at the unidentified abortion clinic where the BuzzFeed staff writer volunteers, it is certainly not an experience that can be generalized. (As a side note, just once I would like to hear someone justify abortion without referring to rape, which reportedly accounts for 1% of abortions nationwide.)
How do I know this? Because here in New York City, along with over 300 other cities across the world, we just completed 40 days of peaceful prayer outside abortion clinics as part of 40 Days for Life. This is a pro-life movement that has been taking place twice a year for the last 8 years, with participation from over 650,000 individuals worldwide.
What we witnessed during the last 40 days at the Margaret Sanger Center Planned Parenthood in downtown Manhattan is typical of what our sidewalk counselors see 365 days a year and what other local 40 Days for Life campaigns experience across the country. Women come to the clinic for an abortion, usually accompanied by a friend, boyfriend or husband. The pro-life sidewalk counselors hand out brochures explaining the many local resources available for pregnant women in need, including: housing; financial, medical and legal support; help with education and employment; and, equally as important, friendship.
Some of the women stop and talk to the sidewalk counselors. While each story is different, the common thread is that these women are afraid. Not afraid of the people praying for them across the street, but afraid of how their lives will change with a baby. Are we really “empowering” women by encouraging them to give in to this fear and abort their child? It certainly doesn’t seem so after spending 40 days watching women leave the abortion clinic hours after their appointment, clutching their abdomen, dejected, crying, barely able to walk down the street (or even worse, carried out on a stretcher and into an ambulance, as we witnessed on October 14th).
The mission of the sidewalk counselors, and the pro-life movement generally, is to empower pregnant women to choose life for their baby and support them with the resources needed to do so. The 40 Days for Life campaign in particular is centered on prayer.
The mission of the sidewalk counselors, and the pro-life movement generally, is to empower pregnant women to choose life for their baby and support them with the resources needed to do so.
Not only do we pray for the men, women and children entering and exiting the abortion clinic, we pray for the clinic staff and the volunteer escorts. We do not hate, we love. We do not scream, we pray. The only people screaming outside the Margaret Sanger Center Planned Parenthood in Manhattan are the passersby who see us praying and immediately react with anger and insults. But we don’t scream back. We keep praying, and we pray for them too.