A prayerful presence at Planned Parenthood
By: Deanna Drogan
While most people would rather do other things then spend their Saturday mornings getting cussed at and flicked off, Liberty University prolife club members couldn’t imagine their Saturday mornings any way else.
Every Saturday morning, Liberty University students from the prolife club drive to Roanoke’s Planned Parenthood to sidewalk counsel.
The prolife club, called Lifeline, was founded in January of 2010. According to the Lifeline Facebook page, the club’s mission is to use the prolife movement as a way to spread the Gospel.
The club is able to share the Gospel through apologetics, prayer, events and sidewalk counseling.
“Side walk counseling is the main core around which the club was founded,” Annie Piper, the president of Lifeline, said.” Everything we do is to try to get people to go sidewalk counseling.”
Students who participate in sidewalk counseling arrive at Planned Parenthood at 7 a.m. on Saturday mornings in order to be there when the workers arrive. Normally students will stay until 11 a.m. However, sometimes there will be second shifts that stay until the center closes at 1 p.m.
While the club members are unable to stand on Planned Parenthood’s property, they normally stand on a patch of grass directly across from the center.
Students start out every Saturday morning in prayer. After prayer, they hold up signs and call out to the women, the men escorting the women, the workers and the abortion doctor.
Students come prepared to hand out resource packets that contain contact information of various pregnancy resource centers around the area.
“We try to emphasize that we are not trying to apologetically convince you that you shouldn’t get an abortion. We are trying to show you that we can help you get other options,” Piper said.
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One of the resources that the club members have found to be very effective in the packets is a link to Abby Johnson’s website called AbortionWorker.com. According to the site, Johnson, a former director of Planned Parenthood began her prolife ministry after facing trauma when she assisted an ultra sound-guided abortion.
Johnson now provides financial assistance, legal protection, emotional support and counseling to those who have had or are considering an abortion as well as the workers.
Through sidewalk counseling, club members have seen several victories, but have also faced several conflicts.
According to Aly Schmidt, the faculty advisor for the club, there have been several times when they have received profanity from people who have walked or driven by the clinic.
This year, during the midweek for The 40 Days For Life, a campaign that aims at spreading the consequences of abortion, prochoice advocates set up cars to block club members from being seen by those entering and exiting the center.
“It’s a much more controversial issue which makes offering the help a bit different,” said Schmidt. “People are not always receptive.”
Though, the students have faced challenges, through their presence they have also made several differences.
According to Schmidt and Piper, in 2015, five workers from Planned Parenthood decided to quit their jobs.
“Abby Johnson’s ministry people had let us know that each one of the workers who had quit said it was from the prayer people,” said Schmidt. “It was cool that they verbally acknowledged that we were praying people not protesting.
Through the clubs peaceful presence, they have not only seen workers quit, but they have also seen a number of women decide not to enter the center.
Though the club is fully aware that they cannot stop every woman from entering the center, they receive their determination and persistence through trusting that the Lord will use them to make a difference.
“The biggest difference is that we get to be that presence,” said Sarah Stewart, the event coordinator for the club. “Our advisors always remind us that you don’t know the full impact you make. You don’t know how God uses your words or your presence there, but we are able to trust that God does use that for His good and for His glory.”