Advice for pro-lifers who want to do sidewalk counseling

I'm Scheming Unborn Baby, and I approve this study
I’m Scheming Unborn Baby, and I approve this resource

Not from me, of course. I’m no lawyer. But here is a good resource about your legal rights, from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).


Over the past 24 years, a surging pro-life movement has forced the closure of 75 percent of surgical abortion businesses in America. But the work is not done. Over 500 abortion facilities still exist in the United States.

That’s where you come in.

As a sidewalk counselor, you can bring hope and clarity to women and men facing an unplanned or crisis pregnancy by connecting with them and empowering them to choose life. To do this work faithfully and effectively, however, you should familiarize yourself with your rights.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) created this manual to educate you about your legal rights when engaging in sidewalk counseling. We pray this resource will help you be better equipped to serve the women and men entering abortion clinics every day.

ADF has taken on cases where the right to advise women considering abortion was attacked. For example, they had to fight the Democrat governor and attorney general of Massachusetts at the Supreme Court:

On Nov. 13, 2007, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law S.B. 1353, which created the buffer zone. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear McCullen v. Coakley in June of last year.

Coakley is the Democrat attorney general of Massachusetts, one of the most liberal states in the nation.

Here’s a snip from the decision:

“It is no accident that public streets and sidewalks have developed as venues for the exchange of ideas,” the Supreme Court wrote in its opinion. “Even today, they remain one of the few places where a speaker can be confident that he is not simply preaching to the choir…. In light of the First Amendment’s purpose ‘to preserve an uninhibited marketplace of ideas in which truth will ultimately prevail…,’ this aspect of traditional public fora is a virtue, not a vice.”

ADF won the case 9-0.

There is a bit more about the woman who brought the case against the pro-abortion Democrats in this post.

It says:

The young married couple slide quickly out of their car and onto the busy sidewalk, eyes fixed on the dark glass doors of the huge Planned Parenthood abortion center. Half a block long and three stories high, its imposing facade looms over the busy stream of students milling up and down the mile-long stretch of Commonwealth Avenue near Boston University.

Suddenly, a small figure nudges into the couple’s tunneled vision, moving to engage them.

“Good morning,” she says, arms wide and inviting, in the cheerful tones of someone who actually believes that it is. “I’m Eleanor. How can I help you this morning?’

They quickly brush past her and into the building. Minutes later, the husband comes back out to put money in the meter.  The small woman is still there, still beaming. “Can I help you?”

“You can’t help me,” he says, pulling change from his pocket. To her fine-tuned ear, he sounds as though he’s trying to convince himself, more than her.

“Well, okay. But I just want to ask you—do you know when the baby’s heart starts beating?”

He sighs, but he answers. “Three months.”

“No … not three months. Twenty-one days. Do you know when the brain waves begin to form?”

Fishing for another quarter, he flashes her an expression that mingles surprise, annoyance, and curiosity in about equal measure. “Six months,” he guesses.

“Ten weeks,” she tells him. Their eyes meet.



He turns back toward the building—then, almost in spite of himself, asks her a question … something about the baby’s DNA. In a moment, they’re deep in conversation. Too deep, to the woman’s mind. She is counting precious minutes, even as her genuine smile and tone warm and envelop the stranger. She fixes him with a clear, sober expression.

“You have to go in there and get her.”

He looks at her for a moment. “All right,” he says at last. “I will.” He runs for the door. Ten minutes later, he’s back, tears in his eyes.

“She’s already in the back. I can’t get to her. They won’t let me speak to her.” He’s visibly upset. “I can’t believe I brought her here.”

A thought seizes her: “Do you have a cell phone? Call her. Tell her there’s help out here and to stop this.”

Incredibly, Planned Parenthood staff members have brought the woman into the procedure room with her cell phone. She answers his call. “You have to come out!” he cries, pleading.

“And she did,” Eleanor says, with a smile that could light up the whole Boston skyline. “I have their little boy’s picture. It’s on my refrigerator.”

There are a lot of pictures on Eleanor McCullen’s refrigerator. All of them children who owe their lives, in large measure, to this 78-year-old woman’s willingness to stand on a Boston curbside five hours a day, two days a week—rain, shine, snow, or sleet—for the last 14 years.

She’s got the facts, and she’s not afraid to use them.

So, if this sounds like something you would be interested in, then listen to the interview with Eleanor, download the ADF guide about legal issues for sidewalk counselors, and then get started saving lives.

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