August 1, 2020 was Students for Life’s National Pro-Life Generation Sidewalk Day. This is the day that hundreds of students from all over the country gather to take action and have an immediate and direct impact on the abortion industry.
Sidewalk counseling is a way one can fight against abortion on the front lines by significantly impacting abortion-minded women. Former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson shared that over 75% of abortion appointments become a “no-show” when someone is out on the sidewalk.
As a sidewalk advocate, you are there to lead those women coming into the abortion facility with love and compassion. You are there to listen to the woman and offer her the help that she needs. You are there to tell her that she is not alone and that she has other options- better options, the option of love and hope. You are there not only to pray for those women, but to interact with them by letting them know that you are there for them. When someone is sidewalk counseling, miracles happen- lives are saved.
When out on the sidewalk, it is important to understand and remember that the workers, escorts, and the women coming into the clinic are human, too. We must interact with love and compassion.
On this day, the Students for Life Action North Carolina Campaign team participated in an event led by Love Life Charlotte. The event took place at A Woman’s Preferred Health Center in Charlotte, NC which is known as one of the biggest abortion facilities in the Southeast. The event consisted of a social-distanced worship service, a prayer walk, and a prayer service for those stepping up to fight in the front lines of the pro-life movement.
A few students chalked “Black Preborn Lives Matter” on the public sidewalk, across the street from the abortion facility. Moments later, our expressed belief was washed out. The abortion facility’s escorts across the street kicked and erased only one word– preborn.
During the prayer walk service, the participants were peacefully singing songs of praise while the escorts across the street taunted. They would sporadically shout expressions that did not make sense. “I bet y’all go to Panera after this and say you’ve done something with your day. Hope you enjoy those f***ing overpriced sandwiches,” one sneered. After the event was over, a few students wanted to take some time to exercise our First Amendment right and pray in front of the facility. While praying, the escorts continued to yell at us. “You’re not helping women, you are scaring them.” They proceeded to taunt students by telling them prayer is not productive and does not help anyone.
But the taunting did not stop at the facility doors. Charlotte for Choice continued to harass students and participants who had attended the event on their social media. Hateful Tik-Toks were posted on their social media accounts. The Tik-Tok videos included: videos of the escorts erasing the chalked sidewalk, videos of an escort mocking pictures taken on a students’ Instagram– causing a spike in hateful comments on her Instagram post, and a slideshow of photos that an escort took of participants of the event while saying proceeding to mock the unconsented photos. Many of the students, myself included, continue to receive comments on our own personal social media from pro-choicers.
But despite the hatred and the hardships that were faced in the last few days, one can simply choose how they can react. Those in the pro-life movement are persecuted. We must not allow this to discourage us, but rather, compel us to grow stronger in hope and in faith. If you are a sidewalk counselor, do not lose hope. As for the Christians praying outside these abortion facilities, the hateful comments and persecution should remind us to not be afraid of speaking up– we cannot stay silent any longer about this.
Guest post by Gabby Lara, Students for Life leader at Benedictine College and SFL Action Kansas State Captain.