I was thrilled when I woke up Saturday morning to temperatures in the 30’s. I’ve been involved in protests outside of the “Abortion Fortress” of Aurora Illinois for over two and a half years now and February has brought some of the most brutal weather we’ve encountered—often with temperatures dipping below zero—so 30’s were a welcome change. Out at the clinic a little before 9 a.m., there already were four stalwart pro-lifers engaged in clinic witness ministry, sidewalk counseling and praying, when I arrived. It’s always a great encouragement to see those dedicated folks outside the abortuary, even in February’s snow and winds.
Prodigal Son a Reminder of the Need to Return to God
As I began to set up the picket signs on the corner with Sam Scheidler, son of Pro-Life Action League Executive Director Eric Scheidler, our conversation turned to the parable of the Prodigal Son. As Byzantine Catholics, we hear that parable in the weeks leading up to Lent to remind us that Lent is a time for us to return to God. As we waited for pro-lifers to arrive and join the protest, I was put in mind of the opportunity for repentance and return to God that is offered by our sidewalk counselors outside Planned Parenthood every day that facility is open—and how encouraging it is when people take advantage of it. More on that later.
Over 60 Pro-Lifers Join the Protest
Pro-lifers began to trickle in and soon we had a sizable picket line. Rows of signs reading, “Stop Abortion NOW,” “Moms for Life,” “Dads for Life,” “Planned Parenthood LIES to You” and “Planned Parenthood BAD for Aurora” were visible to the hundreds of cars driving by on New York Street as well as those entering the Planned Parenthood facility. By the conclusion of the protest, we had over 60 pro-lifers in attendance despite steady snowfall and chilling winds. I was encouraged to see the picketers in high spirits, even many who had been at Planned Parenthood every month since before they opened in Aurora in the fall of 2007. Pro-lifers in Aurora know that our battle will be long and will involve sacrifice like any fight worth fighting, but they also know that the battle belongs to the Lord.
Encouragement and a Call to Action
I was happy to encourage the pro-lifers at the end of the protest with the sure knowledge that their suffering through the wind and the cold that morning had the power to “. . . make up for what was lacking in the sufferings of Christ,” as St. Paul says in his letter to the Colossians. Before we closed with the Lord’s prayer, I reminded everyone to sign the petition to stop the Illinois FOCA bill, HB 6205, and join in on the lobbying days at the Illinois capitol if at all possible.
3 Babies Saved the Day Before the Protest
Finally, I was thrilled to hear some stories of that very “return to God” Sam and I had been talking about before the protest. It turns out that the day before the protest, God had used our sidewalk counselors to save 3 babies and their mothers from the pain of abortion outside Planned Parenthood Aurora. Long-time activist Randy Means relayed the stories to me of three separate couples who decided not to abort because of the presence of Randy and Marie, the sidewalk counselor who was there before him. Two couples left after going into the facility and told Randy it was the presence of the counselors that motivated them to leave. The third couple didn’t even enter the facility. They saw Randy, asked for information on adoption for their baby and drove away! It’s great to see the effect pro-life activism and clinic witness are having in Aurora. If you’ve got a story of activism or clinic witness in Aurora or wherever you live, share it in the comments on this post.