Recently I had the privilege of helping a young woman visit Planned Parenthood in Appleton, Wisconsin. I was impressed by the professionalism of the staff, which was then contrasted by my displeasure at the treatment we received from the protesters standing on the road outside the clinic.
Driving into the parking lot we were accosted by an elderly gentleman, who rushed over and attempted to hit our car with literature he was waving in his hands. He then yelled at us through a bullhorn while we exited our vehicle. Over the next four hours we faintly heard this gentleman through the windows and pulled blinds, still yelling through his bullhorn.?As we left the clinic with the procedure having been successful, the gentleman jumped up from his lawn chair and rushed our vehicle.?I watched in horror as I imagined young women in the same predicament; darting out into traffic and ending their lives, just to get away from this seemingly caring, but ultimately ineffective and arguably hateful individual.
As I drove the six hours home I began to formulate some ideas in my head. I realized that the protesters, especially this gentleman, had very sincere beliefs. Beliefs held so dear that they were willing to make fools of themselves in attempts to win others to their side.?But alas, they were going about it all wrong. In reality they were actually cementing the resolve?against?their position the more they pushed their tactics.
Thus I have formulated 5 suggestions that attempt to improve the ineffective dissemination of the abortion protesters’ message. My goal is not to help them win people to their side, because obviously I disagree with many of their arguments, but rather to make it clear that they have no idea who they’re talking to, nor a clue that their message really is more hurtful than helpful.
1. Stop using your religious jargon.
The gentleman that accosted me and the young woman was holding a sign that read: “TRUST JESUS”. Coming from an extremely fundamentalist religious background I knew exactly what this meant, but many do not.?They read the sign, see the words, and quickly see the disconnect to the subject at hand. The words make no sense, with respect in attempting to prevent women from terminating their pregnancies.?They are a waste of space, time, and effort; merely aiding in irritating those that are presented with the words.
Solution: Instead of writing “TRUST JESUS”, write something like “Jesus called the little children to him,” then reference some Scripture. ?People “get” the idea that Jesus was a loving person and might connect with the message. ?You could also write about Mother Theresa, The Pied Piper, or Jonas Salk. ?Any of those individuals will do. ?They all, allegedly, cared for children.
2. Don’t assume that all women who get an abortion are not Christians
This is huge. The majority of the United States considers themselves Christian, 77% according to Gallup. This means that there is a pretty good chance that the majority of those who visit Planned Parenthood actually identify by the same faith you identify with. By holding up a “TRUST JESUS” sign, provided the viewer gets past the jargon, you are saying that the decision to end your pregnancy is a clear litmus test for being a True Christian. In other words, by walking through the door of the clinic, they are acknowledging their lack of faith.
Solution: Being that your protesting is an attempt to prevent as many abortions as possible, stick to your core message of “alternatives” to abortion or your unique definition of when life begins.?After all, your own Bible says that “only God knows the heart.” Many who walk through those doors have as sincere a faith as you do, but disagree on the finer points.
3. Do not rush toward a vehicle when they are leaving the premises
This is an extremely important suggestion, no, more of an order. You are attempting to save the lives of unborn babies and instead you make an attempt on the life of every occupant of every vehicle that leaves the clinic lot. When you rush toward a vehicle the driver only sees a human being coming at them. They don’t know if you’re violent, just trying to say a few words, or simply want to lay your hands on the car and pray. All they see is you, with your eager face, coming closer. So they make a quick decision and hit the gas — right into oncoming traffic.
Solution: If you want to say a few words to the occupants of a car, say them from a safe distance. Get a portable device that allows you to write messages and flash them at the viewers. Remember, you’re there to “save lives”. Don’t only focus on the unborn, focus on ALL human beings.
4. When a vehicle is leaving the clinic, you have lost. Get over it.
Once an abortion is done, it is done. It is probably safe to say that due to the raging debate over the right to choose, in the public sphere, no woman has entered into this decision lightly. She has weighed her options and has decided to terminate her pregnancy. Once she walks out the door the deed is done and that is NOT the time to begin screaming and crying over what you consider was her only option.?It is time to move on and realize that when your message is presented properly, professionally, efficiently, and correctly; it may help with the woman’s decision, should there be a next time.
Solution: Wave goodbye.?Maybe even hold up a sign that says: “Thank you for listening.” It is time to be polite, respectful, and courteous. You wouldn’t want someone shaming you if you decided that it was okay to do something religiously taboo like getting a divorce or enjoying a nice glass of wine. Kindness goes a long way, trust me. There is a reason you keep getting the middle finger.
5. Do not follow a woman, yelling at her through a bullhorn
It’s called heckling. It irritates people. It angers people. It’s hurtful to people. Worst of all for you, it strengthens the resolve of the woman to go through with that which she has carefully considered. You are only making it worse for you. She doesn’t buy the baby talk that you are spewing into the air, pretending to be a young soul, crying out for his mommy to save his life. She sees right through it and also sees the “crazy” person, without a care for the sensitivities of her — a pregnant woman.?She gets angry and mutters under her breath.
Solution: Put down the bullhorn.
These five “don’ts” with solutions should get you started. If you follow them and build upon them, you will find more success in changing minds to your side. You must not have an ulterior motive. You are not there to convert people to your religion, you’re there to save lives. ALL lives. Pick up a whiteboard and write, as words come to you, write them. Be kindhearted. Be courteous. Be respectful. Be caring. Be professional.
In fact, be like the staff of Planned Parenthood. Ironically, the people you think are the most evil individuals in all of society, are exactly the ones you should be emulating.
edited by kyla B