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.