Click to read the brochure on Sidewalk Counseling
Catholics United for Life coined the term Sidewalk Counseling about 1980 after it was apparent that rescues took a great deal of time away from families and from direct pro-life work. This approach was not always seen as positive, not was CUL's insistence on being identified as Catholic. With Sidewalk Counseling, we could be back each day as women went in.
Over history, people have put a great deal of time into making it a legal right to be on public sidewalks as CUL was in court many times protecting the right to Sidewalk Counself. Finally "bubble zones" won out and it would be Fr Paul Schenck, a protestant minister at the time, whose case would go to the Supreme Court and win us all the freedom to be Pro-life witnesses.
More recently, this case was challenged with another case - Coakley v. McCullen. This case backed the Pro-life presence as non-protesters. It stated that the woman was there to speak to individuals and not a group as a whole - as a leafletter and as such was covered under the free speech rights.
Today, we have a rising tide of aggression and even violence. Sidewalk Counselors are not able to approach women and couples in the same quiet manner we were at one time. However, the principles still remain important.
Why Does It Matter Now?
Sidewalk Counseling is a relevant part of the Pro-life movement, and always will be, because it entails the willingness to approach the evil of abortion face to face. It also willingly embraces the need for love to overcome the false ideals and hopelessness that so many face. We are a people who, as St Mother Teresa would say, are so impoverished that we would killed an innocent child to have what we want. As Mary calls us at Fatima to do prayer and penance, SWC is a unique form of both.
A prayerful presence is the greatest contribution that Sidewalk Counseling adds to the Pro-life movement. One counselor recently said that his 4 year old would say, "Daddy, rush in and save them!" In our inability to do this, we find prayer as a great unifier between faiths and styles. It is also our communication to God and the world to say that this is wrong. God's creation, especially that of children, is never an ugly thing or a mistake.
Over 300 young people, religious and chaperones on the street annually for Ignite Your Torch
In a culture or death, there must be those present to support life. This takes a physical presence that fights against the false ideals of the world.
Presence says: human life matters in all its stages, God's goodness matters. And on the street, that presence matters; it is noticed. It matters to the culture around us, and it matters in our individual hearts.
Personal can mean a great many things. It can mean that you are ready to make a commitment to that personal relationship that she might need. It also means knowing about the subject of abortion - having solid information, backed up by solid sources.
The woman might look at it later, once she is in the building. With "deathscorts" there is less and less ability to get information into their hands, and when you do, it is often ripped right out to be thrown away.
(English/Spanish/African American minorities)