NOTE: This article is one of a series on the “top ten” accomplishments of the pro-life movement over the past 40 years since unborn children were stripped of their legal right to life by the 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton Supreme Court rulings.
One day in May last year, two young women met on the sidewalk outside an abortion clinic.
One of the women, Shevelle, was sixteen weeks pregnant—already showing. She was there for an abortion.
The other woman, Carol, was serving her first day as a pro-life sidewalk counselor. She was there to talk Shevelle out of getting that abortion. But she couldn’t, even after Shevelle learned about the risks of abortion and how a woman had died at this same abortion clinic.
Finally, Carol told Shevelle, “If you’re going to go through with this, at least let me give you a hug.”
Shevelle agreed. Carol embraced her, and Shevelle immediately broke down sobbing. She changed her mind about the abortion, and Carol accompanied her to a nearby pregnancy resource center for help.
Shevelle’s daughter Saveah was born in November—saved by a hug.
The power of sidewalk counseling
That’s the power of sidewalk counseling—the most essential pro-life ministry of all.
Trained sidewalk counselors are the last line of defense for unborn children under immanent threat of being aborted. Sidewalk counselors reach out to women, moments before they enter the abortion clinic, with compassion and a sincere offer to help in any way that they can.
At the Pro-Life Action League, we’ve always consider sidewalk counseling to be the most important work we do. When my father, Joe Scheidler, wrote CLOSED: 99 Ways To Stop Abortionin 1985, sidewalk counseling was chapter one—the only chapter ranked in order of importance.
Countless unborn babies have been saved from abortion through sidewalk counseling and other forms direct action—without doubt, the greatest accomplishment of the pro-life movement.
Overturning Roe, one life at a time
Sometimes the mere presence of a pro-life activist quietly praying outside an abortion clinic is all it takes to save a life, as we’ve been blessed to find out from time to time.
Another powerful form of life-saving witness out on the street is campaigns like the League’s Face the Truth tours. Lives have been saved when women or couples considering abortion saw what it would do to their unborn child—all because a pro-life activist was willing to show them.
As important as they are, other pro-life victories like enacting pro-life laws, turning public opinion and even shutting down abortion clinics pale when set beside the beautiful faces of babies saved through direct action.
Only God knows how many lives have been saved through this kind of street witness, but we do know that it’s going on, all over the country, all the time—the most widespread grassroots outreach of its kind today.
As my father always says, “For the baby saved by a pro-life activist, Roe v. Wade has been overturned.”
As we mark the 40th anniversary of that tragic court ruling, let us celebrate the lives that we pro-lifers have been able to save by answering God’s call to put our pro-life convictions into action out on the street.