Protecting “Choice” or Restricting Access to Information?

Note: This post is Part 1 of 2 in a series


Abortion is supposed to be about “choice,” right?

But without options, “choice” is a meaningless phrase. Yet this is what abortion advocates and so-called “clinic escorts” (deathscorts) seem to want: abortion without any alternatives or information.

The Purpose of The Deathscorts

One of the links posted to the inaugural “Pro-Life Link Party” was the text of a speech by Abigail Seidman, who had to work as a “clinic escort” because her mother worked for the clinic. I found Abigail’s insight on these volunteers valuable:

Since the passage of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (or, “FACE”) in 1994, escorts have not technically been needed at abortion clinics, since anyone who impedes a patient from entering an abortion clinic is committing a felony under federal law… However, use of escorts has not only remained constant since then, it has actually increased.

The job description of clinic escort has shifted, from “person who provides physical assistance to patients”, to “person who attempts to shield patients from information”. …[T]he escorts are now available to “shield” women from receiving information about alternatives to abortion, or simply from hearing prayers and peaceful exhortations to reconsider what they are about to do. The abortion industry is not at all shy about its attempts to control and censor information about alternatives to abortion.

Abigail goes on to give advice to the sidewalk counselors and prayer warriors who spend a lot of time in the presence of deathscorts. It’s worth reading, because she reminds us that 1) the deathscorts do not have the same worldview as most pro-lifers and 2) we should be compassionately reaching out to them (in a way that recognizes their different worldview).

New Signs Direct Women To Pregnancy Center

Because the deathscorts at Albany Medical Surgical Center (the abortion clinic nearest our office) have become regular fixtures in the last few months and have been keeping us from sharing about abortion alternatives, we had signs made informing women that free help is just one block away. They can be staked into the public parkway in front of and around the abortion clinic to give women the opportunity to seek help elsewhere.

Not surprisingly, the clinic staff aren’t big fans of these signs.

In fact, just as my co-worker John Jansen and I were leaving last Friday morning (and picking up the signs to go), a clinic staffer rounded the corner with several of our signs in her hands! I told her those were ours and she said that we should “advertise in front of [our] own establishment.” She did, however, give us the signs back (probably so we couldn’t accuse her of theft).

Clinic Deathscort Dances in Front of Counselor

I brought the signs out again on Saturday, but no one tried to remove them that day.

Instead, I witnessed a strange dance taking place over and over.

Every time Warren, a sidewalk counselor, would try to offer the women walking into the clinic information, a deathscort would block him with her body.

He would step left, and she would step left. He would step right, and she would step right.

I taped a bit of it, just so you can see how funny it would be…if it weren’t so sad…

UPDATE: This morning, a security guard at Albany actually took our signs and threw them in the dumpster. League Vice President Ann Scheidler will be writing Part 2 of this story to fill you in on the details.

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