Friday, October 11, 2013

Why it took me 36 hours to recover from praying outside Planned Parenthood

I was nervous.
I've been pro-life for about 3 years but I'd only prayed outside of abortion facilities a few times. Each time I'd been nervous, uneasy, worried. Each time had been painful, discouraging, yet grace-filled. Bearing witness to the horror and brutality of abortion was something I'd felt called to do, and following that call took me out of my "comfort zone" and tapped into my precious reserves of chutzpah to do so.
Each time I had been joined by people with similar--if not identical--tactics on how best to achieve our shared sacred goal of saving lives, of changing the hearts and minds of those misguided mothers on their way to making the worst mistake of their lives.
Not this time.
I found the place easily (which is a huge achievement for directionally-challenged me, even though I had been there to pray once before--but after business hours.) 
I felt conspicuous walking a few blocks down a residential street with the sign I'd made the night before on the particleboard drawer bottom of an old changing table: "LET US HELP U"… 

But when I got to Planned Parenthood and was greeted by a few smiling faces I felt more comfortable. We prayed together and talked a bit about the current 40 Days for Life campaign and dutifully stayed behind the white line in the parking lot as a couple of cars pulled in to park. I said, "Let us help you" to the first couple I saw exiting a car. When the next car arrived, a woman next to me said, a little too loudly for my liking, "Your baby's heart is beating, you can't do this!" My Christian charitability was overshadowed by my judgment of what I perceived as her elevated volume and accusatory tone. I approached her about my misgivings and was swiftly chided, perhaps rightfully so, but she and I amicably discussed the sadness of it all and how petty bickering amongst ourselves wouldn't save anyone. We prayed together.
Then more escorts arrived.
After an hour or so of solemn prayer and only a couple of cars coming to the center, I noticed the blue-vested clinic escorts had increased in number. We'd had two the first hour, then there were three, four, wow--FIVE escorts here now!--for an abortion center with only 6 or 7 spaces in the parking lot. There were only about eight of us there praying. A few people had fliers for the local pregnancy resource center (only a couple blocks away!), me with my "LET US HELP U" sign and MapQuest directions to the PRC, and a man with a very large, professionally-made "CHOOSE LIFE!" sign with a photo of an adorable 6-month-old baby. Then they showed up, and suddenly it all made sense.
I am new to the pro-life movement. I fully accept that any of my opinions are subject to suspicion because I used to work in an abortion facility. But I'm also a very regretful and repentant post-abortive mother who was pressured into having an abortion I did not want. I had already named my child, had a prenatal care appointment made, and a call in to the local medical assistance office. I ran out of the clinic the day of my first appointment and no one was in the parking lot praying--how I wish there had been! But if any of these people had been there, I can tell you with absolute certainty that the terrified pregnant 17-year-old me (who wanted to keep my baby!) would never have approached these hostile people shouting nastiness and holding violent signs.
I felt as though I was in a movie clip filled with caricatures of what pro-abortion people, clinic escorts, and clinic workers think pro-lifers are. It was as if someone had called Central Casting and asked them to send the woman carrying a crucifix the size of her ribcage, dousing holy water, and mumbling under her breath; her contemporary carrying the huge photo of the top half of an aborted baby's skull held in forceps and snarling, "You know what you're doing is murder!"; and another cohort with a homemade sign scrawled on a bedsheet with words I couldn't quite make out--but I could clearly hear her screaming (LOUDLY) "DON'T KILL ME, MOMMY!! PLEASE DON'T LET THEM KILL ME, MOMMY!" over and over and over again.
After what felt like forever, but was probably only a few minutes, I literally shook and fell to my knees, propped my sign up on my legs and softly sang, "Amazing Grace." I didn't know what else to do.
Then I left.
I had to.
I asked someone to walk me to my car because the fear generated by those surroundings had taken hold of me--the fear generated on the same side of the line upon which I now stood.
A very dear friend with a similar background and conversion experience told me, "Truth without mercy is just facts." I saw no mercy or compassion from these people. No sense of welcome or kindness or "Let us help you" emanated from them as from those first few sidewalk counselors I'd met during my first hour there.
The overwhelming and demonstrable (and verifiable) success of the 40 Days for Life campaigns should prove to us that scare tactics simply do not work as well as the peaceful, prayerful, compassionate witness of people offering practical assistance to pregnant mothers and their families. I know that lives have been saved by the graphic signs and the shouting--but now that we know even more lives can be saved with mercy rather than shock, why wouldn't we change our tactics toward increased proven success? Because shouting down the man saying, "We can help you with medical care during your pregnancy, and there is always adoption" with "You know what you're doing is murder" isn't working.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." -Martin Luther King Jr.

Jewels Green is a post-abortive mother and a pro-life Catholic convert football-loving bibliophile with 4 tattoos, 3 kids, 2 degrees, and 1 regretful past in the abortion industry.


  1. I don't get why people would think that screaming at people helps. It makes them defensive. Defensive people don't normally change their minds, they hunker down and view everyone else as enemies.

  2. Oh Jewels, I'm so sorry. It makes me so frustrated that instead of maximizing our efforts, a few selects are making the rest of us look like heartless jerks. How do we get through to them?

  3. Amen to that. Christian charity seems to be lacking so much, all in the name of "Christian charity." I have no idea how to reach my fellow Christians and Catholics who have that mindset to talk about what better ways we can bring love to people in crisis. Maybe the problem is they don't realize that those pregnant women who go to abortion facilities really *don't* want to be there, but feel that it's the only place they can go. Props to you for having your heart wide open to those girls and offering your help!

  4. Also many of those type of angry blaming tactics are from those who once the babies are born condemn those who receive welfare. That is one of the reasons so many abort. They do not want to live in povertyand face the condemnation from others for being "low lives" I say this as I was also a young single mother.

  5. Oh, this hit home hard with me. I'm a college student and am starting up a SWC group. We're not faced with animosity from the clinic or clients, but from people just like this. It makes me so sad. Here's a video I took of them last Saturday:

    The sad thing is that the clinic feels like they have to protect the women from this, and I can't blame them. If I were in one of those girl's position, I would run in fast just like they do.

    An interesting distinction we made is that these people are anti-abortion, but not pro-life. If they truly wanted women to turn away and choose life, they would have to open their eyes and meet them where they're at.

    Another thing that gets to me is that they claim to be all about the Bible, but are acting horrendously un-Biblically. Newsflash: Jesus ATE with sinners. He loved on 'em without condemning them.

    Love comes first. Women desperately need love in that moment, not condemnation. Thank you for being a witness to the peaceful and truly pro-LIFE movement.

  6. "Truth without mercy is just facts."

    I don't see why facts themselves aren't enough. For supposedly rational people, they should be.

  7. I want a God who is all about truth AND mercy. If you have only all Truth, you have facts, yes, but you also have judgment, criticism, letter of the law with no spirit, harshness, and no compromise. If you have only all Mercy, you have indulgence, no criticism, no judgment, everyone is wonderful and everyone's choices are valid, spoiled children and selfish adults.

    A simple example: Truth says "That dress is wrong for you and you look dreadful." Mercy says, "You look great in whatever you wear because you are a great person." Truth + Mercy says, "I don't think that outfit works well with your figure; you want to go shopping together?"

    My God is a god of judgment AND a god of love. Facts are what I build my decisions on and faith sustains my soul through the dark night when the facts seem daunting.

  8. I've seen many of these same individuals at other rally causes and on the interwebs. Hate begets hate. Love begets love. On a slightly more religious side; Jesus didn't scream "You're an idiot" he said, "Come, follow me". We all need to remember that at all times. It's not easy, but it is what is right.

    *hugs* Thank you for going to the 40 Days of Life. I, myself, can't stomach it. Just remember the ones you have been to where you have had a good spiritual experience - which is always hard when you've had such a horrible one. Don't let the pain of one bad experience negate the good you are doing.

  9. Oh. Ok. I'm crying. I'm with you- it makes me wonder what the overzealous are thinking when they do this.

  10. The thing that both sides seem to forget so easily is that abortion is almost never about choice. Women who feel like they have choices do not have abortions. If we want to end infanticide then we must offer women real options. We have to take away their fear by taking away their very valid concerns, how do I afford this baby?, who will be there with me when it's born?, how will I feed it?, buy it clothes?, know how to be a good parent?. It amazes me that so many people who preach pro-life also rail against free prenatal care and food stamps for single mothers.

  11. Thanks for sharing this. How frustrating. Too easy for some to forget the second half of Ephesians 4:15: "Speak the truth in love." In love. Thanks for fighting the good fight for these women and children.