Sidewalk Counseling: Harassing or Helping?

Guest blogger Sean Miller

Guest blogger Sean Miller

Here’s the second part of guest blogger Sean Miller’s posting on sidewalk counseling at abortion clinics. Sean, an experienced counselor, explains how an offer to help is often perceived as harassment.

Sidewalk Counseling: Harassing or Helping?

The atmosphere in front of an abortion mill can be surreal. Not surprising considering what is going on within its walls.

So for a sidewalk counselor to be able to function and not dissolve into a pool of tears, you have to put up a protective wall within. Remember, this is a spiritual battleground, and there is no time to be absorbed in “how I feel.” These are the front lines!

The matter at hand demands two necessary ingredients: prayer and counseling. They are interdependent. All must be done in a spirit of deep humility, silence, and compassion, with the understanding that we are present for these troubled couples so that we can help them in their time of great need.

Unfortunately, they do not always perceive us as helpers.

When couples come to an abortion mill, they more than likely have spent a considerable amount of time and energy discussing their present situation. At this point, they just want to get this horrible experience over with. Their defenses are up, and they don’t want to talk about the matter any further.

Raw emotions of fear and anxiety have overcome their reasoning. They will try to shun or silence any attempt to approach their problem logically. They have come to a dead end of despair. Even if there is hope they are not open to it because their “tunnel vision” refuses to allow any light in.

Sadly, they will perceive help as harassment. Of course, this is their guilty conscience talking, and, struggling with their guilt, they go into “attack” mode and accuse the counselors of harassing them or else they ignore them altogether.

Recently, I had an experience at an abortion mill that illustrated this quite clearly.

A couple was looking for a parking space. I went up to the car to tell them where they could park. Of course, my plan was to give them literature on a pregnancy center that was down the road, which I did. The woman was very receptive and appreciative. The man driving the car remained silent.

They went to park their car and were gone for quite some time. Perhaps, they changed their mind? Well, not exactly.

Eventually, they came walking down the street to the abortion mill. Just before the man entered, we had a quick exchange. I offered him pro-life literature, and he retorted by saying that I was harassing him.

I explained that we are only trying to help them. He said that I approached them while they were in their car assuming that they were going there for an abortion. Hence, it was harassment.

Well, first of all, I showed them where to park and simply offered (not forced) literature so that they could get help if they so chose to do so.

Also, this facility’s main income overwhelmingly comes from performing abortions. I reminded him of this, and as the door shut behind him, I also reminded him that the next day was Mother’s Day.

If he was was open to hope, he could have seen I only was trying to offer him help. His girlfriend was open to hope, but he was guarding her with an iron claw.

As  people of “life” we must remain  people of hope, who offer help at all costs – even in the face of accusations of harassment. Because these cries of anger or rage outside the abortion clinic are only the outward signs of guilt and great sadness for those who are on the verge of abandoning all hope.

For more blogs by Sean, just search for “Sean Miller” in the box in the upper right corner of the home page. The first part of the sidewalk counseling series can be found here.

Rockland Stands with Texas Ban on Late-Term Abortions

Prayer for Texas

July 11 — Seminarian David Rider led the Rosary as Rockland prolifers prayed for the protection of LIFE and for the state of Texas to lead other states in banning late term abortions, 20 weeks and older when the baby in the womb can feel pain and is capable of surviving outside the womb.
The rally took place outside the Planned Parenthood office on Perelman Road in Spring Valley.

Today members of the Texas state Senate approved a bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks by a 19-11 vote. The House passed their version of the bill on Wednesday. Now the bill will go to prolife Gov. Rick Perry, who will sign it into law.

After a day filled with pro-abortion threats, pro-life people hiding in secure areas of the capitol fearing for their safetyjars of feces and urine and protestors disrupting the Senate proceedings, democracy finally prevailed.

A previous attempt to pass this bill in the Texas Senate was halted by a pro-abortion filibuster by state Sen. Wendy Davis. Davis said she would not filibuster the bill a second time.

This debate had been marked by angry protests from pro-abortion demonstrators and even a death threat to prolife Gov. Rick Perry.

The bill relies on the science of fetal pain to establish a constitutional reason to ban abortions late in pregnancy.

On June 18, by  a 228-196 vote, the  U.S. House of Representatives also passed a bill that would ban all abortions starting at 20 weeks’ gestation.

Rockland’s representative in the House, Nita Lowey, voted against this bill.

Rep. Chris Smith, the head of the pro-life caucus in the House called “The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act”  a modest but necessary attempt to at least protect babies who are 20 weeks old—and pain-capable—from having to suffer and die from abortion.”

At the time, the Obama administration issued a statement indicating that President Obama would veto the bill if ever passes in the the Democratic-controlled Senate, which is unlikely.

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On the Front Lines — PP at RCC Youthfest

RCC-PP-EileenOn March 9, the Youthfest was held at Rockland Community College.  It’s an annual event whose goal is to provide the community with an opportunity to interact with businesses and agencies that provide services for children, youth, and families in Rockland County.

Unfortunately, Planned Parenthood Hudson-Peconic was on hand, with their propaganda and big display van, eager to meet our youth.

But  Eileen was there too. Armed with her sign at the entrance to the campus, she reminded everyone about the truth about Planned Parenthood.

New York State RTL Salutes Astorino, Clinic Access Bill Opponents

“The NYSRTL Committee is delighted that County Executive Rob Astorino has courageously done his job not just as the county executive but as an American showing respect for the Constitution. People have not fought and died for a First Amendment that  protects only universally wanted speech.

 The idea that public property outside of an abortion facility should be a free-speech-free zone because some people don’t like that it impacts the very lucrative abortion industry is an idea that does not belong in a truly free country. The pro-abortion movement knows that when presented with the truth, most women choose life and that is bad for business.  Bravo Rob Astorino!  Great job Alan [Mehldau, Chair of Westchester-Putnam Right to Life] and the Westchester Right to Life team!”  

– Lori Kehoe, Chairperson, NYS Right to Life

Pro-abortion lobby goes BERSERK after Astorino’s veto of anti-free speech clinic bill — from LifeNet

Focus on the Family coverage in CitizenLink

Clinic Access Bill Vetoed

Westchester County Executive Robert A. Astorino has vetoed the Clinic Access Bill, calling it legally flawed and unnecessary. Click here for the full story.

While this legislation targeted prolife free speech in Westchester, I’m sure Mr. Astorino would like to know that we in Rockland were keeping a careful eye on the situation and  are very grateful for his decision to veto. Abortion, unfortunately, knows no geographic boundaries.

Please send  a quick email to thank him at

Clinic Access Bill Passes 10-7

Targeting the peaceful protests of prolife Americans, the Westchester County Board of Legislators, in a party-line vote Monday night, passed a bill creating a 25-foot buffer zone outside clinics that provide abortions.

Hopefully, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino will veto this law. Click here for the Hudson Valley Coalition for Life’s take on the future of this unfortunate legislation, which they describe as “bad law — badly crafted, bad for the County, and bad for the County’s citizens.”

The primary supporters of this law were Planned Parenthood of Hudson-Peconic, the Westchester Coalition for Legal Abortion, and Rep. Nita Lowey, of the newly revamped 17th Congressional District, which now includes all of Rockland County as well as parts of Westchester.

150-200 Attend Hearing on ‘Clinic Access Bill’ in Westchester

On Monday, April 30, approximately 150 to 200 people attended the hearing of the Westchester County Board of Legislators on a bill that would restrict the free speech rights of prolife witnesses outside abortion clinics.

The vote is scheduled for next Monday, May 7. Click here for a letter from Sister Lucy Marie of the Sisters of Life, appealing for a redoubling of prayers and sacrifices for the conversion of hearts on this issue.  It includes insights from Ed Mechmann, an attorney from the Archdiocese of New York, on how such hearings can help the prolife cause:

I thought that having so many “regular people” on our side — as opposed to the largely institutional witnesses on the other side (e.g., employees and activists from Planned Parenthood) — was a very good thing.  I think that the legislators are more impressed when lots of people testify who don’t make a living out of the issue at hand.  Five voters count for a lot more than one “spokesman.” — Ed Mechmann

Oppose the ‘Clinic Access Bill': Legislation Targeting Prolife Free Speech is Un-American

On Monday evening, April 30, the Westchester County Legislature will hold a public hearing on proposed legislation that would allow abortion clinic facilities to sue anyone who — in their opinion — has harassed or intimidated a person trying to gain access.

Please read this opinion piece submitted to the Journal News by the co-directors of the Hudson Valley Coalition for Life against this attempt to use the law to intimidate peaceful people who are expressing their views against abortion.

View the JN Debate: The Right to Protest Abortion — and the ‘Clinic Access Bill’

On April 18, the Journal News hosted a debate regarding the “Clinic Access Bill” — a bill currently under consideration in Westchester — which seeks to suppress the right to protest at abortion clinics. Click here to view the video of this discussion.

The pro-life free speech advocates were Tom Faranda and Judy Anderson, the co-directors of the Hudson Valley Coalition for Life, and Antoinette Consentino, MD, a pediatrician.

Speaking of free speech, according to the website LifeNet, it looks like the time allotments at this debate were a little lopsided:

  • The anti-free speech, pro-abortion side got 26 minutes, including the first nine minutes 26 seconds.
  • The free speech advocate, pro-life side 18 minutes.