Do Girls and Women Know They Don’t Have to Go to Planned Parenthood?

    Planned Parenthood employees look out from their building, St. Louis, Mo., June 4, 2019. (Lawrence Bryant/Reuters)

    This morning, I spent a little time outside Planned Parenthood in Manhattan, offering information. I was only out there for a little under an hour, and I only had rejections. The first young woman, who looked to be in some distress, walked in with her boyfriend, and said “No.” The second was laughing as she went in — she and her boyfriend seemed to be enmeshed in some real darkness. The third glared as if in anger at the thought of an alternative.

    You can never be certain what a girl or young woman is going in for, but the abortion-minded woman tends to have an intensity about her that a girl getting birth control or a pap smear doesn’t have.

    A woman very visibly pregnant walked in in the early afternoon when I happened to stop by to pray again. She said she wasn’t going in for abortion, but there was a gravity in her face that suggested something else.

    Last week, a girl lashed out at me, yelling: “I’m trying to prevent having cancer, I’m not getting an abortion,” and threw the brochures back at me. I’m convinced she reacted that way because of the hostility that is created when clinic escort volunteers are out there. On Friday, one was a man who seemed reminiscent of a bouncer outside a bar. It creates such an unnecessarily hostile atmosphere.

    When the 40 Days for Life counselors (which is really ideally 365 Days for Life) are out there, frequently, there’s a little conversation; often, there is a very gracious “No thank you.” And yet sometimes a girl walks away, having wanted a sign she could go on with the pregnancy. Sometimes they of their own free will go to the Sisters of Life.

    Today, two of the evangelical sidewalk counselors with the group Love Life told me how they brought a 17-year-old girl heading in for an abortion for some Chick-fil-A to talk about alternatives — of her own free will. Her high-school guidance counselor, complete with an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez T-shirt, met her to take her away from the two sweet young counselors, sisters, and parted by telling them to “Mind their f***ing business.”

    The guidance counselor was white, and the pregnant girl was black, by the way. Down in NoHo, the neighborhood folks who thank the escorts and glare at the pro-life counselors don’t seem to really think Black Lives Matter — not when they are unborn, not when they are young black girls who think they have no other option than end the developing life within them.

    I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a fan of the approach of some — every once in a while I’ll encounter someone shouting about people going to hell and babies being butchered. I definitely favor the hope approach.

    On the other hand, I do believe we are a culture that has become too accustomed to legal abortion. While we need less shouting, not more, most of us who consider ourselves pro-life — or even those who consider themselves pro-choice but do not like abortion, knowing it to be an evil — can do more to make sure the girls and women in our lives know that we will walk with them if they find themselves unexpectedly pregnant. Do they know we will love them now, and will then, too? Do they know about loving alternatives to abortion? I worry most don’t. And the shouting probably doesn’t help them to know.

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