The stupidest things I have ever said on the sidewalk…

Have you ever rehearsed in your mind exactly what you would say to a woman walking into Planned Parenthood? Did you have the words ready…on the tip of your tongue? They would be powerful, loving and would penetrate right to her heart…and she would see the light…change her mind and choose life for her baby! But then…in real life…you see an abortion bound couple walking towards those terrible doors and you open your mouth…and something totally stupid comes out.

This past Wednesday, as an abortion worker was headed to work, I said to her, “ can help you find another job…one that doesn’t require you to kill people!” I said this in such a friendly, bubbly tone…it sounded strange and awkward, as you can imagine. I didn’t mean to add that last part…it just slipped out.

After offering the help of local crisis pregnancy centers and informing the abortion bound woman of their free services, I will frequently end by saying, “Planned Parenthood is a business that makes it’s money from abortion. They won’t tell you of all the free help that is available, and they won’t tell you how much harm abortion causes us…psychologically, emotionally, spiritually and physically!” (This part is actually okay…but then sometimes…as they have not listened to me and are slipping in the door, I find myself trailing off with something like, “We can’t just kill our children and then go on with life as usual!”

I surprised myself a few weeks ago when, after talking to a mother who was guiding her abortion-bound teenage daughter into PP, the words that just came out were, “In the name of Jesus…PLEASE choose to let your grandchild live!” (I don’t actually count this one as being one of the stupidest things I have ever said…but it is, so far, the first and only time I have ever said it.) Those words must have struck a nerve because up till that point, neither the mother or daughter had responded to me…but upon saying the name of Jesus, the mother got angry and defensive and said, “We DO know Jesus!” She said this as they both slipped into those terrible doors.

I hope that by telling you of my awkwardness on the sidewalk that I am not giving others a license to just say whatever they feel like saying when trying to save lives on the sidewalk. My motive for this post is to assure you that if you have ever beaten yourself up for saying the wrong thing…you are not alone! Of course we always need to be kind, loving and gentle with our words, and we should always ask the Holy Spirit to speak through us as we are approaching someone. Sidewalk Advocate training is very helpful also. Greg holds periodic training sessions for anyone who wants to learn more. But…if you are afraid of coming to the sidewalk because you will say the wrong thing and be embarrassed…or make things worse…come anyway. You may very well say the wrong thing and be embarrassed…but it is unlikely that you will make things any worse. They are already walking in to end the life of their child. Whether you are there or not…whether you say anything or not, the baby is going to die, and the family is going to suffer loss. The difference that you will make by being there may just be a difference in yourself! You may find that you are more willing to suffer life’s little inconveniences without complaining. You may find yourself more patient with difficult people. You may find that God blesses your family with unexpected grace because of the sacrifice that you offer for love of Him.

And, even when they go in anyway…and the baby dies…those words that you said…that came from your heart…may just remain in their hearts…taking root…so that the next time they find themselves pregnant…maybe they will choose life. Maybe they will come to repentance sooner then they would have otherwise, and be forgiven and healed.

I also want to remind you that it is not necessary to say anything at all when you are in front of PP. You can come to pray silently. You can bring a sign and witness peacefully. No one is expected to reach out and speak to those entering. In fact, sometimes silent prayer can speak more loudly than any words we could say.

Next week we have a few holes in the schedule that we need volunteers for. If you can help, please let me know! They are:

Tuesday from 3:30-5pm (Conrad needs a partner)

Wednesday from 3-4pm (Dave needs a partner)


Saturday from 10-12 (Sue D. needs a partner)

Part of the reason for this blog continuing in-between 40 day campaigns is to keep our pro-life family plugged in to what is happening year-round in front of PP. Our Sidewalk Advocates and 40 Days 365 volunteers occasionally send me reflections or inspirations from their weekly shifts to post. Here are a couple sidewalk reflections from last week:

Sandy wrote from her shift on Tuesday last week:

Every week is different.  You never know what the Holy Spirit is going to do.  And we don’t know what will follow after an encounter or conversation, but I’m trusting the Lord.  This week were the usual brush offs- but at least not the finger of last week for which I said, “thank you.”  There was a young woman who was quick to tell me she did not have an abortion, but was there for a birth control injection, but added that she had a baby in December. When I mentioned what a delightful age when the personality is developing so much she quickly showed me a picture on her phone and as I oohed, I was just led to say something like- “then you understand how precious each life is.” She hesitated then said, “yes.”    Two other women took the info cards and added we’re on your side. One added, I gave a child for adoption.  I thanked her and added that I had 2 adopted sons.  Another young man thanked us (Linda and me) and I invited him to join us- he said he was in town on business and actually lived in NY, but would say a rosary for us. And there were a few other incidents of connection as well.  And those times when all’s pretty quiet and I’m just praying silently as I face PP, I know He is hearing our prayers.  It’s not always easy to go down to Liberty Ave., I have a lot of things to do, but what is a better thing I could be doing on Tuesday afternoon?  As Saint Paul says: “Christ’s love compels us”  2Cor 5:12  

And Barbara wrote from her shift last Friday:

The blooming weed pic and this 40 Days twice yearly publication spoke to me this beautiful morning. One beautiful person … out of many beautiful people stood out.
A man walked by … stopped … turned around … and unloaded the angry thoughts he has about our witness for life there on the sidewalk in front of PP. 
I began to answer point by point, and then I stopped. Thank God. I listened. We looked at each other. He walked away. Our brief meeting was a win for him. He had a chance to take his ideas out and listen to them, out loud, in public. I pray the episode was good for him.
I look cement bound to the secular “birth control – ABORTION – only-as-back-up” people. I bloom with enthusiasm. BUT- my out of date ideas block my enthusiastic street witness from getting anywhere.
I understand that my “way” looks raggedy, heartless and unrealistic. My way champions chastity as a goal until marriage; avoidance of artificial birth control; in a crisis pregnancy – choose life!
It does not matter to abortion minded people that biology, and personal testimony by abortion wounded people, argue on behalf of pro-life goals.
DAY 41 MAGAZINE – WINTER 2020 is full of successful pro-life witnessing. 
From the outside the abortion conversation has no middle ground.
From the inside – the abortion conversation is steeped in prayer soaked souls approaching misery soaked sisters and brothers.
God is love. God is all powerful merciful love.

I will close by linking two inspiring videos. The first one is less than two minutes and is something that could change a heart and mind…it is really good to share with anyone who might be in a crisis pregnancy. The second video is an interview of Margorie Dannonfelser by Fr. Jay Donahue. It is about 47 minutes, but is also really good!

(372) So, You’re Pregnant… – YouTube

(372) EXPLORING CATHOLICISM with Padre Jay—A Conversation with Marjorie Dannenfelser – YouTube

Thanks for being part of our pro-life family here in Pittsburgh! Please jump in and help when you can!

In Christ,


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