Some sidewalk outreach teams do not have a pro-abortion crowd trying to prevent them from speaking to the women; however, most teams do face opposition. Our experience has been that the opposition grows in proportion to the positive effect of the outreach team. In a sense, the presence of fierce opposition is a badge of honor!
Effectiveness Provokes Escalating Opposition
Both the pro-life side and the pro-abortion side desire the upper hand. One side employs an effective strategy. The other side counters that strategy with a new approach that neutralizes the new strategy. The other side now imposes greater and greater measures of opposition. It is a war of growing proportion, which, in my opinion, is not unlike the nuclear arms race. I desperately want to disarm both sides and allow the pro-life side to speak without hindrance, and the pro-abortion side to allow the women to make their own choice whether to hear us or not, come to us or not.
As long as I can remember, there has been opposition to our teams. In the early days of my life as a sidewalk counselor, the opposition walked the women from their cars to the door, talking with them. They did not usually shout over us or do much more than play vile songs on their phones for us to hear; however, we were able to see the women, call out to them, and the women could easily make a choice to come to us or not.
Because sidewalk outreach was so effective in helping women choose life, the abortion industry began to employ more aggressive tactics. The pro-abortion crowd began to use noisemakers and umbrellas to try and block us both visually and auditorily. They began singing and talking loudly, shouting over us when we called out. They planted a hedge of fast-growing bushes to attempt to prevent us from seeing the women.
Legal Recourse to Aid Each Cause
All this was not enough. Women were still choosing life. The pro-abortion group went to City Council and the liberal majority passed a sound ordinance, claiming various medical facilities needed a buffer zone of quiet. We all knew it was a tactic to silence the pro-life groups outside of abortion centers.
We adapted to that by using sound amplification systems, set back the required distance on our private property beside the abortion center. The effect was the same, but the battle equipment was becoming heavier.
Response and Counter-Response
The pro-abortion crowd resorted to louder and louder noisemakers, including horns, which they blasted inches from our ears. We legally opposed this tactic, and it was eventually shut down. In retaliation, the pro-abortion crowd erected giant tarps along the front periphery of the abortion center. They were not allowed to erect a solid wall due to the business park ordinances. Since they could not build a permanent structure, they devised wire runners on which to hang the tarps, which could be unfurled and then gathered when the day ended. As our effectiveness continued, the tarp curtain grew. It looks hideous, but no one seems to care.
When is Enough Enough?
Fortunately, we can still see the front door and the women from two good vantage points at either driveway, and our effectiveness continues. Lately, a pro-life advocate showed up with a ladder. He stood atop the ladder looking over the tarps and called out to the women.
As soon as the ladder entered the war zone, I knew it would only be a matter of time before the opposition erected higher tarps. I assume they will begin to threaten our balance on the ladder should we incorporate that into our regular battle equipment.
I don’t see this battle doing anything but escalating to a dangerous level. I am not sure what the answer is but sometimes the first approach to solving a big problem is recognizing the fact that it is a problem. Whether the ladder is a good tactic or not remains to be discussed. The concern is not of the ladder specifically, but of the escalating materials used in the battle.
Analyze What Works and Focus There
One solution is for each outreach team to carefully examine where they have had success reaching the women. That’s where they should focus their energy. We have a higher rate of success if we can encourage the women to go on the mobile ultrasound unit. We know they can hear us on the microphone and therefore we should use that to full advantage.
Remember the Basics
We should focus on the three talking points which we know are effective in drawing the women to come talk to us. We know that if we can set our team up all up and down the street, we’re more likely for women to engage with us. If we stay focused and avoid chit chat and clumping together, we are more likely to effectively engage with the women. If we are faithful to ignore the opposition and focus on our ministry — the unborn — we are more effective.
If strategies are effective from our side, I think we should refrain from adding equipment that is likely to produce accompanying escalating responses from the other side. I am concerned about the circus-like atmosphere each layer of new equipment and counter-response provokes.
God is ultimately the winner. We know that. We operate from a place of victory. Sometimes, I think it is more a desire to “stick it to the opposition” than the love and obedience to God that fuels our actions. I know I can fall prey to this in my fleshly frustration.
Instead, we all need to remember, the battle belongs to the Lord. David slayed the giant Goliath without armor or shield. He just used some stones and a slingshot, doing what he had succeeded doing in the past, trusting God to bring the increase. He refused to be weighed down with armor he was unused to, but instead relied on what he knew to use, and used it to full advantage.
The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But deliverance is of the Lord (Proverbs 21:31).