Monday, March 21, 2011

That time of the year

Twice a year, for a total of 80 days, the sidewalk counseling scene changes. Today was, I believe, the 13th day of 40 Days for Life. It’s interesting how one organization can have such an impact. Sidewalk counselors, in my experience, have a hard time covering all of a clinic’s operating hours. Here in Tuscaloosa, Dr. Payne is open six days a week. We counsel for maybe 5 or 6 hours a week. With the 40 Days for Lifers, there is someone outside that clinic at least sixty percent of business hours.

They are not sidewalk counselors but their vigil does have some very concrete results. Just being there makes women more likely to keep their babies. Turn-arounds are not uncommon. I encourage anyone who is thinking of sidewalk counseling to stand vigil* with more experienced members first. Joining 40 Days is an easy way to get connected with other sidewalk counselors. (They can point you in the right direction.)

*Standing vigil doesn't have to involve prayer. To me, it's standing witness to the lives that are lost. Someone should be able to mourn and remember them.

That said, you should always be careful. I have lost count of how many drivers slow down so that they can curse at us more audibly. You get used to it. It was a game for a while, count how many positive comments we got versus the negative ones. It’s an informal poll of your community’s views. However, attacks on pro-lifers are not terribly uncommon. You may have read on Jill Stanek or LifeNews that a bomb fashioned out of a water bottle was thrown at a 40 Days participant in Montana.

In my hometown down in sunny Florida, there were complaints made to the local TV station from a woman who felt intimidated by the prayer vigil. However, when you listen to the interview with her, she also mentions the armed security guard. I agree with her, he’s terrifying (and unnecessary). The 40 Days coordinator they interview is a very sweet woman. What’s interesting to me is that the Planned Parenthood down there normally has blackout sheets around the entrance to the clinic and I don’t see them anywhere in the video.

1 comment: said...

Here's a little blast from the past re: 40 Days for Life

From a 40 Days officer:
"Our view is that there's plenty of room under the pro-life umbrella for many different approaches that are all focused on the common desire to put an end to abortion. I think there is great value in a secular approach when discussing abortion with a secular audience. We often hear life-begins-at-conception described as a "belief." Of course, as you well know, it's a scientific fact -- so thanks for what you're doing!

You asked if people of conscience could participate in 40 Days for Life. That's a tough question. By definition, 40 Days for Life's presence outside the abortion centers is a prayer vigil. Our invitation is to go and pray. That having been said, if the 40 Days for Life campaign moves a person of conscience to come to the clinic to stand in witness against abortion as a human rights violation, for instance -- great! Of course, the fact that it is a specifically Christian event may create a reluctance for others to take part. That's unfortunate, but understandable."