A recent MSNBC panel covering McCullen v. Coakley (a case challenging legislation which bans sidewalk counselors from standing on public property in from of abortion mills) continued the liberal media’s war of fabricated accusations about pro-life outreach to abortion-minded men and women. Pro-life opponents of the law mandating a 35-foot distance believe that it is within a pro-life individual’s right of free speech to be able to speak to individuals going into abortion centers. The panel included only prominent pro-abortion advocates and absolutely no pro-life advocates. Among panelists were two members of NARAL Pro-Choice America, including president Ilyse Hogue, and NARAL board member Karen Finney, who hosts MSNBC’s Disrupt. During the panel, Finney said,
Remember, that the people who congregate outside of clinics have a sort of mob-like mentality. Their job is, again, to shame the woman, make it as hard as possible for her to get in there. So it’s not about free speech, actually. It is about, you know, shaming and it is about making it harder to access something that is your legal right.
This pro-abortion talking point — that the motive behind pro-life outreach is to shame women — is purely false and is not backed by actual evidence, including evidence that NARAL Pro-Choice American itself has gathered in its “undercover” investigations of pregnancy resource centers.
These investigations by NARAL found that pregnancy resource centers, which provide abortion alternatives to women in unplanned pregnancy situations, give away free maternity and baby clothes, diapers and supplies, and that the centers offer evidence of the psychological and physical side-effects of abortion that can ultimately hurt women (evidence which, of course, NARAL claims is false). Although NARAL found that many centers’ philosophies are based on Christian principles and a belief that abortion is morally wrong, those principles do not include shame tactics.
In actual fact, sidewalk counseling often involves pro-lifers calling on the boyfriends or family members accompanying abortion-minded women to take their responsibility as father, boyfriend, husband, grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc. seriously. Some counselors will point out that escorting a woman that you love to have an abortion is not a good example of true love and concern. Even so, these are not shame tactics.
On the contrary, in the last-ditch effort to save a baby’s life and a mother from heartbreak, sidewalk counselors simultaneously offer hope and alternatives to these individuals. Women are referred to caring pregnancy resource centers, and they provide women with literature that will provide women with details of the abortion they are contemplating which Planned Parenthood and other abortion mills fail to share.
It is also important to note that most pro-life individuals who come to the sidewalks of an abortion mills do so silently and in prayer; they never address the women themselves, much less try to “shame” them. Typically the sidewalk counselors who are verbally reaching out to women are trained in how to do so respectfully and with compassion, and the rest of the sidewalk ministry present is there to silently support the work of those select few with prayer. There have been many women who changed their minds about abortion who never verbally engaged with a sidewalk counselor, but only saw someone praying silently outside of an abortion mill. Sometimes, months or years later, these women bring their children who were spared from abortion to meet the sidewalk counselors who unknowingly changed their minds (stories like these can be found at 40 Days for Life).
In reality, ‘shame’ in the abortion debate has been coming from the side of abortion advocates. A few recent examples: A pro-abortion mob disrupted deliberations on Texas’ pro-life omnibus bill over the summer with threats and behavior that was disrespectful of the stat’s legislative process. Meanwhile, supporters in favor of the bill remained respectful and law-abiding throughout the course of the deliberations. Last week, we highlighted an RH Reality Check piece that discouraged post-abortive women from publicizing their shame to protect pro-abortion legislation, even if shame the emotion they are genuinely feeling after their abortion experience. The author said:
On the one hand, I have urged women to remain true to their own feelings. On the other, I have understood that the tone of our narratives could hold political consequences. For so long the rhetoric of the pro-choice Democrat’s position has focused on “safe, legal and rare” – with the “rare” reinforcing the idea that abortion, though permissible, should be shameful and undesirable.
Earlier this month in Australia, feminists and socialists shamed and even exercised violence against pro-lifers who were audacious enough to take a stand for life at a pro-life rally in Melbourne. An abortion clinic worker in El Paso, Texas threatened to run over peaceful abortion protesters with her car. And earlier this year, a man sustained stab wounds from an abortion advocate for peacefully demonstrating his pro-life views outside of an abortion facility.