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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Compassionate "Sidewalk Counseling:" How Effective, Really?

One of our readers asked,
"I seem to remember reading in your blog that you sometimes stand outside your neighborhood abortion clinic and try to convince people going in to change their minds. Could you give me an idea of how often you change someone's mind pre-abortion? I'm curious because if I remember the entry that I read correctly, you mentioned that one person you were with was the type who carries the dead fetus/you are going to hell sign and you said that you felt that was less effective in changing people's mind. I'm wondering how often people do change their minds with either type of persuasion."
First, just to clarify: neither I nor my friends are technically "with" that person who is so condemning of the women as they come for their abortions. He is not part of our group, but given that we all have a right to free speech, he is allowed by that right to be on that sidewalk even though we abhor what he says and does. He is the only one who behaves so awfully, and yet, it is unfortunate but natural that the abortion clinic people and even some of their clients think we condone or are part of what he does. We're so not. He happens to be there, on his own, and though we wish we could stop him, we are really powerless to do so.

It’s not that we haven’t tried or don’t still try: we have tried, on many occasions, to educate him, to show him how his way is abusive, to get him to stop, even to drown him out at times since he often will shout incessantly at the women, not allowing my friends and I to get a compassionate word in edgewise. I've tried befriending him and "catching flies with honey," and I've even let my anger at him get the better of me and raised my own voice to him. Nothing works.

Ironically, there were times when I have called out to the moms and even the fathers, "Please don't listen to him, he's not with us, he's not here to help you like we are trying to do," or at other times, I admit that—just to avoid having the women hear his hateful words—I’ve talked simultaneously either to him directly or to the women, with the express intent of making sure, even if they can't hear how I'm trying to help, that they at least won't hear how hurtful his words are. It sure sounds like total cacophony then, but it's better than their hearing what he's really saying.

My friends who go out to the local abortion clinic write:
"1,391 moms have changed their minds between Feb 1990-April 2005; over 60 this year so far."
That doesn't count those who "turn away" without giving a reason.

That's 1,391 of these babies AND moms who they've helped and continue to help long after the babies are born, in the past 16 years. That's an average of about 83 babies, Moms and families (yes, we help the whole family) a year, but this year, the number is already over 60 and the year isn't even half over.

I haven't been out there with them in awhile since the abortions are now done only on 2 weekdays (not Saturday). They used to be open 5 days a week in the beginning. They do between 8 and 25 abortions a morning. Usually the greater number occurred on Saturdays; now it's so on whatever is the first scheduled day after a big holiday or other "big deal" weekend. No one ever likes to have the abortion on Memorial Day Weekend, for example.

This is the post I believe our reader is recalling. Midway down is the story of my experience with the gory pictures and the supposedly pro-life man who yells at the women about going to hell. Although but he doesn't hold a sign saying so (thank God for small favors), he does have one that says "Abortion is Murder."

To my knowledge (and to his), only one woman has ever changed her mind because of his tactics. This is so even after over 30 years of him doing it his way; he was out there when I went for my abortion and it didn't do anything but make me run into the clinic to escape his abuse.

My friends' compassionate approach usually has been able to help between one and as many as six change their mind(s) per day that abortions are scheduled (2x a week). Others just "turn away" without telling us that they've changed their minds. We do "count" them as "turnaways," but can't really be sure they don't go somewhere else or come back another time. Sometimes, they turn away because they ate something that morning (the clinic will resked them due to the anesthesia), or the ultrasound shows they're too early for the abortion or too late for the simple first-trimester one and they instead need the painful 2-3 day procedure.

Here are some other posts on this topic.

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