The COVID-19 Crisis has turned the world upside down. In an effort to “flatten the curve” of infection and avoid disastrously overburdening our health care system, more than half of Americans are now subject to “shelter-in-place” orders.
Meanwhile, the massive economic slowdown caused by these orders has cost millions of jobs. Afraid for the future, many women will face more pressure than ever to get abortions if they become pregnant at this time. And the abortion industry is doing everything they can to exploit this crisis.
How can pro-life activists continue to be a voice for our unborn brothers and sisters during these difficult times? Follow the guidelines below for a road map to safe activism:
- Focus on safe outreach at abortion facilities
- Our outreach is legal, even under shelter-at-home orders
- What about passing out literature?
- We will get through this!
Focus on safe outreach at abortion facilities
With public gatherings being canceled and most of the country under orders to limit trips outside the home, many of our typical pro-life activities are no longer feasible. Campus outreach cannot be done when schools are closed. Roadside and overpass education campaigns are ineffective with traffic at a trickle. Pro-abortion events we might have protested are being canceled.
But nearly every abortion clinic in the country remains open. Right now, we need to concentrate our pro-life efforts on outreach at abortion facilities. That means going out in prayer, offering sidewalk counseling, and mourning for the babies who are being aborted.
In continuing our pro-life outreach at abortion centers, we need to follow the guidelines put forth by our health authorities like the Centers for Disease Control, including the following:
- If you are an older person, stay home and away from other people.
- If you are a person with a serious underlying health condition—such as a significant heart or lung problem—stay home and away from other people.
- If you feel sick, stay home.
- If your children are sick, keep them at home.
- Practice social distancing (staying six feet away from other people) and wash your hands before and after going out.
If we limit our presence to groups outside abortion facilities, we can follow all the recommended guidelines easily.
Our outreach is legal, even under shelter-at-home orders
Our attorneys at the Thomas More Society Pro-Life Law Center have reviewed the shelter-at-home orders issued by the authorities in many states, counties, and cities, and have made the legal determination that sidewalk outreach at abortion facilities complies with these orders.
First, health experts have emphasized the importance of getting outside for fresh air and exercise. There is nothing to prevent us from doing this on the public right-of-way outside of abortion facilities, provided we follow the recommended hygiene social distancing.
Secondly, these shelter-at-home orders always make exceptions for vital services. Our life-saving outreach and the counseling we offer to pregnant women fall under those exceptions.
That said, you may encounter police who ask questions about your presence at the abortion facility, or even order you to leave. In such a case you should inform them that you have been informed by your legal counsel that your presence there is lawful, that you are following CDC guidelines, and that you are offering a vital service to pregnant women.
Simply hearing that you have legal counsel will often convince the police to withdraw their objections. However, if they continue to insist that you leave the premises, our advice is to comply with that order and then contact the Thomas More Society. (This approach is often referred to as “obey now, grieve later.”)
What about passing out literature?
An integral part of sidewalk counseling is handing out pro-life pamphlets with information about the harms of abortion and the location of pregnancy centers where mothers can find help.
Social distancing guidelines will make it somewhat more difficult to pass out literature, but you can still do so if you are careful to use your longest reach and step back immediately after handing it off. It’s also worth noting that the coronavirus has been shown not to survive for very long on porous material like paper, so there’s little cause for concern on that score.
You might also consider precautions like wearing gloves or a mask—which would signal your concern for health and safety—or using a grabber tool to hand off literature like this one from Amazon, available for $10.
We will get through this!
As difficult as these times may be, we will get through this crisis. Along we the way, we may even be opening up opportunities for God to do great things.
In fact, some sidewalk counselors have reported that abortion-bound clients seem more willing than ever to talk to them. Perhaps there’s something about the isolation we’re all feeling right now these clients more open to having a conversation with another person, whatever the circumstances might be.
At the same time, this crisis may be drawing some Americans closer to God. Some commentators have suggested that it’s inspiring a spiritual awakening in our country. The pro-life movement may emerge from these days stronger than ever.
By continuing your active pro-life outreach even in the face of so many challenges, you could be helping to make that happen. May God bless you!