Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Across the Street
By Guestblogger Dennis Schenkel

[The following is cross-posted from Dennis Schenkel's Vita Mea blog. Dennis is a Catholic seminarian. The prayerful, nonconfrontational approach to witnessing outside abortion clinics that he describes is practiced in many cities by Helpers of God's Precious Infants. — Dawn]

I'm interested in thoughtful opinions on something.

This past Friday, 34 seminarians fasted from lunch for women who were considering abortion so that the money that would have been spent on lunch could be sent to the Pregnancy Resource Center in Louisville, KY. Then on Saturday morning, 9 of us went to Louisville to pray the rosary at the abortion facility and be prayerful witnesses to the truth of the goodness of life.

(In case anyone is interested, here is the website for the Louisville abortuary. Reading their descriptions of the surgical "procedures" is enlightening.)

This past Saturday morning, 18 separate women entered the abortuary with the intention of ending a pregnancy, perhaps not realizing that they were ending a life, perhaps even inflicting a mortal wound upon their hearts as well.

In Louisville, there are no buffer zone ordinances, so people who oppose abortion can stand on the sidewalk right up to the door of the facility. Also, the facility fronts right onto the sidewalk, unlike many Planned Parenthood facilities with large fenced in parking lots.

On a typical Saturday morning, some 20 or so Catholics and a few other Christians will stand on either side of the sidewalk in front of the abortion facility and pray the rosary. When a woman shows up for an abortion, she parks in the lot across the street where she is surrounded by helpful abortuary escorts who help her speed quickly across the street, past the people praying, past the sidewalk counselors offering alternatives and other information, into the abortuary. The escorts make sure that the woman moves as fast as she can, because any delay could mean that a sidewalk counselor might actually get to have a conversation with the woman.

As they are rushing the woman to the front door, they pass through the midst of the pray-ers on the sidewalk, who do not hinder them. They continue praying their rosaries, taking what is in their mind a brave stance against the injustice of killing innocents.

The woman, from her perspective, sees simply a large crowd gathered near the door of the abortuary, and, already in turmoil with her own fears, and wishing this was already over with and behind her, doesn't mind being hurried in. The crowd near the door might even appear hostile, because while the Catholics are all praying the rosary, there is always a stray Protestant or two shouting things like "Don't be a Murderer! You're killing your Baby!" From the woman's perspective, there is no way to distinguish the people praying from the one or two shouting.

So we seminarians pray across the street. We think it's less scary for a woman, and so she won't feel as rushed to hurry into the "safety" of the lobby of the abortion facility. We think the escorts currently have the fantasy that they are protecting women from fanatics, but that if the people praying were on the other side of the street, in a non-threatening posture rather than "in your face," the escorts might begin to think they aren't really necessary, and they might stop showing up to volunteer on Saturday mornings. And we think if the escorts disappeared, then there would be more opportunity for the sidewalk counselor to do what she is there to do, which is help women who are scared and fearful have more knowledge about their options.

Some of the Catholics who stand to pray near the entrance of the abortuary have questioned whether we seminarians are truly willing to confront the evil. They wonder if we are actually dedicated to the cause of life, or if we have been compromised by some other agenda.

What do you think?