Memo to Kathleen Sebelius: Protest ≠ Outreach


Not that this should come as any surprise, but Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius doesn’t understand pro-life activism.

The Associated Press covered yesterday’s NARAL luncheon where Sebelius gave the keynote address, noting that she mentioned the Pro-Life Action League’s protest of the event:

Outside the event, a dozen anti-abortion protesters silently held large grisly signs depicting aborted fetuses, and Sebelius mentioned the demonstration in her speech.

“I know that some people were a bit appalled at walking through the demonstrators as you came to this lunch,” Sebelius said. “It is a discomfort when you’re coming to lunch, but think about the women who are trying to tap into the health services they desperately need who have to go through that kind of gauntlet in order to access all-too-infrequent services.”

Unfortunately, the article is inaccurate, as there were 40 protesters, not “a dozen.” But there were indeed grisly pictures, and it’s good to hear that some of NARAL’s supporters were appalled at the display. That’s the point. I would be much more disturbed by people who weren’t appalled by a Face the Truth demonstration.

Sebelius Compares Apples and Oranges

But Sebelius doesn’t stop at noting that pictures of aborted babies are appalling. She goes on to compare the protest NARAL’s guests had to walk through to the “gauntlet” women go through when visiting an abortion clinic. That comparison is absolutely unfounded and it shows that she doesn’t get what pro-life activism is about.

Yesterday’s protest was designed to make NARAL’s supporters feel ashamed of supporting abortion and organizations that promote it so that they will stop doing it. The peaceful, prayerful presence outside abortion clinics has not only a different intent, but a different feeling altogether.

Protest and Clinic Witness: Two Very Different Approaches

Presence outside the abortion clinic whether in prayer or sidewalk counseling seeks to offer help, not to shame. That’s why at the protest yesterday, we had signs demanding that NARAL stop the war on unborn women, but outside the abortion clinic we have signs that offer free help and someone to talk to.

At yesterday’s protest we lined both sides of the street with graphic abortion images so that people attending the lunch would be forced to see the reality of abortion on their way in.

But when the League teaches and practices sidewalk counseling, we always advise that graphic signs be kept away from the clinic if they’re used at all. That’s specifically so that it doesn’t create a “gauntlet” situation that makes women not want to stop and talk to the counselors.

And that’s to say nothing of the number of people involved. Yesterday’s protest drew 40 people, a huge crowd for a Wednesday morning when most people have to be at work. At a typical abortion clinic on a typical day, you’re lucky to have a handful of people quietly praying a Rosary. Walking by four grandmothers in prayer hardly constitutes a gauntlet.

The Abortion Industry’s Go-To Tactic Is Lies

But I’m not surprised by Sebelius’ remarks. She’s in the pocket of the abortion industry, and their only tactic against pro-lifers is to lie. They try to paint every pro-lifer and every pro-life activity as the crazed actions of unscrupulous religious loonies who might turn violent at any minute.

But that’s simply not so. Abortion-bound moms are women in difficult situations, and we treat them with compassion and care. The abortion industry and its supporters are perpetuating the greatest moral atrocity of our time, and we will remind them of that relentlessly until abortion ends.

Videos of League Activities Speak for Themselves

If you need more proof that Sebelius was perpetrating a false equivalence between protest of the abortion industry and clinic witness activities, check out the League’s Youtube channel.

There you can watch videos of our protests and you can also watch our sidewalk counseling video, No Greater Joy and judge for yourself whether the gauntlet NARAL’s guests had to walk yesterday is the same as the loving outreach clinic patrons receive from pro-life witnesses.

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