Just weeks after the story about pro-life young people featuring League staffer Corrina Gura and myself in Chicago’s RedEye daily newspaper, another local daily has submitted its take on activism outside Chicago’s abortion facilities. Their take isn’t nearly as fair as the RedEye’s.
TimeOut Chicago, a paper aimed at young singles, reviews Chicago news, entertainment and culture. Their current issue features a section on volunteering. Among articles on “Volunteering Horror Stories” and “Best Volunteer Projects for Hooking Up” is an article entitled “Volunteer Escorts at Planned Parenthood.”
Author’s Pro-Abortion Choice Bias Shines Through
Wearing his bias on his sleeve, author Jake Malooley opens the piece by criticizing pro-lifers’ “off-key” singing on their Empty Manger caroling day. The rest of the article, a glowing portrait of “clinic escort” Zach Burgess, is chock full of epithets, misrepresentations and outright lies about Chicago’s brave clinic witness volunteers.
Starting at the beginning, you can judge for yourself whether pro-lifers’ singing is off-key in our video of that day’s peaceful caroling. Furthermore, the first photo in the article, which features the League’s John Jansen and Ann Scheidler, bears the caption “Clinically Mad: Upset Christian protesters ring in the holidays shouting down clients entering the clinic.” But, as the video plainly shows, there was no shouting that day—only the peaceful singing of Christmas Carols.
Misunderstanding the Ethos and Actions of Sidewalk Counselors
Moving on, Malooley reports that pro-lifers come out in their strongest numbers on Saturday, the busiest abortion days, to “show their disgust.” Again, nothing could be further from the truth. Sidewalk counselors are there to provide assistance and options to women who often feel that abortion is their only option. See the League’s “No Greater Joy” sidewalk counseling video for more information on the peaceful reality of clinic witness.
Further down, Malooley quotes clinic escort Burgess:
Namely, Burgess deals with a menagerie of people he describes as “almost comical.” “Everything the protesters do is to try to get the attention of the patients,” he says, “so they employ a lot of crazy strategies.” On the day of the Empty Manger protest, a slight, elderly woman sprays holy water from a plastic bottle along the base of the building she refers to as “the killing center.” Some protesters distribute hand-knit baby booties to passersby. Others pass out tiny plastic babies, telling women entering the clinic, “This is your fetus.”
I’m not sure how the “crazy strategies” of handing out baby booties and blessing buildings with holy water make it necessary for escorts like Burgess to “protect” abortion-bound mothers. It’s also unclear why he needs to be outside the clinic to ensure that women don’t hear the facts that pro-life counselors have to offer before they go through with a serious surgical procedure.
Again, quoting Burgess:
One man prays the Hail Mary aloud again and again for 30 minutes.
Hmm . . . what could this strange ritual be? Burgess must not have been in the clinic escort business very long if he’s not familiar with the Rosary. Once more from Burgess:
“Sometimes,” Burgess says, “you’ll even see someone dressed like a doctor come up and interlock the arm of a patient and start giving them unsolicited medical advice about all the harm they’re doing to their body.”
The reason that person comes dressed like a doctor is that she is a doctor. This doctor regularly gives her time at the Planned Parenthood on LaSalle and Division in Chicago. She comes to the clinic in her professional attire to show the women that there are doctors who have different advice to offer than those inside Planned Parenthood.
“Misinformation” in Pro-Life Literature
The article goes on to cite “misinformation” in the pamphlets pro-lifers offer to women seeking abortions. Burgess claims one of the “funniest” things he’s seen is the claim in some anti-contraception materials pro-lifers hand out that divorce rates are higher among those who use artificial contraception.
In fact, some pro-life literature does contain this claim, since it’s a fact established by scientific studies. Far from “misinformation,” it’s just information a the pro-abortion choice crowd doesn’t want to believe.
The article closes with the now ubiquitous reference to the murder of notorious late-term abortionist George Tiller last summer. Burgess says he remembers, days after Tiller’s death, hearing pro-lifers praying for “the people who were arrested in the cause of stopping abortion,” which he took as a prayer for Tiller’s murderer, Scott Roeder, as if celebrating what he did.
In reality, this prayer is a frequently repeated request for those who are arrested in the cause of stopping abortion peacefully and prayerfully. While pro-lifers certainly pray for the repentance and conversion of Scott Roeder, this prayer was taken grossly out of context in this article.
Article Displays the Vitality of the Pro-Life Movement
In the end, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. The fact of the matter is that, nearly 37 years after Roe v. Wade, abortion is still in the news, on the minds of the American people and a major force in American politics, as the recent healthcare debate has made plain. This is in large part due to the tireless work of pro-life activists like the ones this article maligns and misrepresents.