Often pro-life advocates who have never done sidewalk counseling before are hesitant to get started because they feel like they don’t know what to say or do. The most common excuse I hear from people who have considered sidewalk counseling but have not tried it is that they are afraid they will say the wrong thing. In my eight years as a sidewalk counselor, I have been blessed to help nearly 60 families leave the abortion clinic to choose life for their child. There are many things I have learned through experience that I wish I knew on my first day of counseling. In this article I want to share with you one of the greatest secrets to saving lives.
Based on my own experience, I can tell you with confidence that many times the person who is coming to the abortion facility for their appointment will actually talk themselves out of the abortion if they are given the chance to process their situation out loud. Even a beginner to sidewalk counseling can help to save lives in circumstances like that because it doesn’t take experience or much training to help in this manner. Let me tell you about a time when I had that happen at the abortion facility:
We were at the clinic. It was cold that day and they had an older brown Honda Civic, ugly-as-can-be car. They parked in the lot pretty close by us. They sat in their car for 20 to 30 minutes, just talking. You could tell they were just talking, not fighting or anything. At the abortion clinic, talking is a very good sign. It seems like when people are talking, they are usually talking themselves out of the abortion. The couples who are not talking at all are harder to reach.
The other volunteers and I were really encouraged because they were talking for so long. When they eventually got out of their car I got the guy’s attention by saying, “Hey, come on down here and talk to me, tell me your story.”
He replied, “We talked about it and decided that we are not going to have the abortion.”
“Why are you here? What are you doing?”
He said, “We are just going to get the ultrasound.”
I told him, “This isn’t the place you want to go, I have a place down the road where you can go for free.”
They were interested in saving some money and getting their ultrasound elsewhere, so I took them down to the local pregnancy resource center and sat with them in the waiting room. I talked with them while we waited. They told me they were very stressed and gave me details about some of the choices they had made which lead them to this situation — choices they said they regretted. They were just kind of freaking out. I could tell they just needed someone to listen.
One thing that I was very concerned about for this couple was what would have happened if they had gone into the abortion clinic instead of the pregnancy resource center. In my experience, when people change their mind about the abortion but decide to go to the abortion facility for the pregnancy verification and ultrasound, the staff at the clinic will talk the couple into having an abortion. That’s what I have seen them do: they talk people into having the abortion by normalizing it. I don’t think every individual who works at an abortion center intentionally pressures people into choosing abortion, but if you look at the big picture statistics, you will see that parents who receive pregnancy tests at abortion facilities receive far more abortions than adoption referrals.
Just the fact that I was there to offer them another place, one they could go to for free, helped to save their baby from abortion. They had already talked themselves out of the abortion, they just needed to get away from there. I was able to offer them the ultrasound they needed at pregnancy resource center and off they were. It was that easy.
Imagine how many families are in a situation like this, except when they come to abortion facilities there is no one waiting outside to hear their story and offer them another place to go. In my personal experience sidewalk counseling for almost a decade, I can tell you I have met many women and men who arrive for their abortion appointment when they’re still on the fence about their decision. Many times these families will leave the abortion facility if there are loving people waiting for them, offering resources and another way out of what feels like a stressful, overwhelming situation. You could be that person.
The couple in my story had decided against having the abortion before they even left their car; however, many times when I ask people to tell me their story, they haven’t made up their mind. They start talking to me about their lives, their pregnancy, how they feel about it, and what brought them to the abortion clinic. Many times all I do is stand there and listen. I offer sympathy and ask questions, but don’t need to talk beyond that. Without me saying anything significant, the couple decides they do not want to go through with the abortion.
I am sharing this secret with you because people greatly underestimate how much they are needed out on the sidewalk. That is why we developed the Sidewalk Counseling Masterclass. If you have never done sidewalk counseling before, then this course will help you gain the confidence to realize, “Hey, I can do that!” or maybe just motivate you to start as a peaceful witness with a sign. If you have some experience with sidewalk counseling, but want to learn from someone with more, this course will take you to another level with my detailed, conversation-oriented method. I have the curriculum to share with people at both beginner and intermediate skill sets, and just as importantly, I want to learn from you too! Hopefully those who complete the course will share their experiences from the sidewalk with us and we can continue to pass it on to students as we grow.
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The post How to Help People Talk Themselves out of Abortion originally appeared at the Equal Rights Institute blog. Subscribe to our email list with the form below and get a FREE gift. Click here to learn more about our pro-life apologetics course, “Equipped for Life: A Fresh Approach to Conversations About Abortion.”