Sidewalk counseling: a first experience

For many years, I’ve been involved in the pro-life movement – from hosting baby bottle & diaper drives with my campus Students for Life club, all the way to Marching for Life in Washington DC. Just recently, though, I began to more deeply consider the reality of abortion. Being married and so deeply desiring my own children & family, it struck me how horribly tragic it is that so many would-be adoptive parents (such as my husband & myself) remain childless as thousands of babies are aborted every day.

And so we were inspired, for the first time in our pro-life lives, to stand on the sidewalk in front of an abortion clinic last Saturday morning, to do more than just pray as we ordinarily have, and to actually reach out to those facing a crisis pregnancy.

After just a few emails and a handful of phone calls, our decision to take to the street came to fruition much faster than we could have anticipated, and there we were, in front of the clinic on Saturday at 7:45 a.m. We scheduled to meet at that time with Holly, a post-abortive mother turned sidewalk counselor (and now mom of 7!)  to speak for just a short while before she anticipated that the girls would start arriving. She offered what humble advice she could, reminding us that there are no magic words to keep anyone from going inside.

Sidewalk Counseling

A handful of other counselors arrived before cars started pulling in.

And immediately I was awe-struck. Car after car stopped in the driveway and rolled down their windows, openly accepting our invitation to speak with them. I was absolutely shocked at how many were willing to listen. But as our time there carried on, the encouragement I first found in all those conversations began to subside, as couple… after couple… headed into the clinic anyway.

Our experience that day ranged from the very-expected to the dumbfounding. But one couple in particular will unquestionably remain in my mind and on my heart forever.

It was an 18-year-old high school student that was 8 weeks pregnant, with her 19-year-old boyfriend and her friend who drove them to the clinic that day. They had stopped in the driveway, as others had, and listened as Holly pleaded that they not go forward with their plan to abort their child. A few minutes passed and the friend, who was driving, pulled forward and parked her car. The three got out as Holly and others begged them not to go inside. The two girls headed for the door, as the boyfriend stepped the opposite direction, heading toward us on the sidewalk, seeming so… torn.

Then her friend got hostile. She screamed at him, demanding him to get inside and to ignore us. And so he did. But only to reappear outside again, perhaps only 10 minutes later, holding his crying girlfriend in his arms. Again, we could do nothing but shout over the heavy traffic behind us and across the parking lot in front of us, begging them to acknowledge the reality of their parenthood and the preciousness of their baby – even offering to adopt their poor child, in danger of imminent death.

But back inside they went. Her boyfriend came outside again a short while later, and my husband asked why they couldn’t just give up the baby for adoption. “Because we couldn’t just give away our child,” he answered. “So you’re going to kill it instead?” He realized the wrong in his reasoning and headed back inside with intentions to get his girlfriend to reconsider the abortion. All the while, in and out of the clinic, the friend went – for a short time, blasting music in her car and screaming the lyrics directly into the face of the boyfriend – as if desperately trying to distract him from the reality that his child was being killed inside.

The hours passed and everyone packed up before we made the decision to head home: a tough decision in that we had watched so many women go inside that day and still hadn’t seen a single one come out. And as we drove away, we passed by that young man once more and we pulled off to the side of the road to ask if he needed to talk. He declined, saying that they had learned it was too late to abort the baby and that they were going to keep him or her. Too late… at 8 weeks pregnant? It seemed terribly suspicious (considering 92% of abortions happen up to 13 weeks) and we still wonder if he wasn’t being truthful, just trying to shake us off. Although, he did continue, saying something which struck me profoundly… “I’m just scared,” he said. “I have my own family now. I’m scared to be a parent.”

It hit me that our culture is so good at instilling this false sense of maturity when it comes to having sex, while simultaneously promoting a terrible fear of parenthood. Young people are confident in their “maturity” in choosing to have sex, but cling to their childishness when faced with the consequence of becoming a parent – which society teaches is an optional, difficult, and costly investment that anyone under age 30 without a college degree is ill-equipped for. And this young man and the mother of his child, along with their passionately pro-abortion friend, gave face to this very real and very disturbing problem.

At that point, not knowing the true fate of their baby, we could do nothing but offer prayer. So we asked for their names to do just that. We shook hands with Anthony and learned his girlfriend’s name, Michelle, and then we drove away.

That morning when we had arrived before anyone else, I had turned to my husband, anxiously confessing my nervousness that we were about to do something which seemed so daunting. “We’ve done this before,” he said. “No, we haven’t!” I practically cried. “We’ve only prayed outside clinics before.” But he reminded me: “It’s God doing the work either way.”

May God protect poor couples like Anthony & Michelle, deceived by the Culture of Death. May God bless their hearts that they may recognize the sanctity of life. And may God bless every person like Holly, who takes every last desperate opportunity to reach out to abortive couples from the sidewalks of abortion clinics.

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3 thoughts on “Sidewalk counseling: a first experience

  1. Whoa. That sounds like a powerful experience for you, Katy. Thank you for sharing and thank you for your work in the pro-life movement. Remind me sometime to share my brother’s story with you sometime.

    It is unfortunate that our society doesn’t seem to see the whole picture on human sexuality and personal responsibility and so refuses to educate teens and young adults accordingly. Or, worse still, telling them they are being responsible in making the worst possible decision.

  2. It’s like we as a society have been brainwashed. I used to be like that. Even when I was again against abortion, I hid behind the to the I-don’t-want-to-force-my-morality facade. Thank God that I was finally able to face the undiluted Truth.

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