After a weekend of widespread vandalism and looting in downtown Chicago following protests over the murder of George Floyd, news reports this morning indicated that access to downtown would be restricted to residents and “essential workers” for the second consecutive day. So when I started on my way this morning to the Family Planning Associates (FPA) abortion clinic downtown with the intention of sidewalk counseling, I wasn’t sure if I’d end up reaching my destination or if I’d be rerouted by police.
I exited the inbound Eisenhower Expressway at Ashland Avenue, then proceeded north to Washington Street and turned right to head into downtown. By the time I crossed the Kennedy Expressway and reached FPA, I was grateful to have encountered no police and no checkpoints. Apparently access to downtown wasn’t as tightly restricted as it was made out to be!
About ten minutes after I arrived, I offered literature to a young African-American woman on her way in and told her that there had recently been a medical emergency at this location, and that she could get help at the Aid for Women pregnancy center on Michigan Avenue. She accepted the literature but continued walking, and then opened the door. At that point, I said, “Even if you go in, you can still change your mind.” She then hesitated, but continued walking in.
About 15 minutes later, this same woman came out and, without saying a word, smiled at me, and walked a bit farther down the block toward a car. Another woman got out of the car, and the two of them embraced for a long time. Then they got in the car and left.
There are no “magic words” to use when talking with a woman outside an abortion clinic. Most of the time, no matter what words are used, a woman will end up having an abortion anyway—and so we must resist feelings of discouragement. But sometimes, like this morning, a woman will, in fact, change her mind. And what a blessing it is to witness that!