There is a battle occurring in northeast Ohio right now. Brave soldiers are needed to step up to the front lines and bring Christ's presence to those who are dangerously close to having an abortion, and to stand as witnesses to the community that while abortion may be legal, it is definitely not right! Up to now, you may have been involved with several other Right to Life activities, such as writing letters or attending dinners. However, while we appreciate your participation in these areas, we must also focus our efforts on praying at the abortion centers. You or your group can make a great difference right now. By spending just an hour a month being a witness by praying and side-walk counseling, you can save countless lives.
You are free to go and witness on your own at any time; however, by joining the Cloud of Witnesses and adopting ohe hour per month, we can help to assure that someone is at the facilities all the time. We have a powerful effect on the abortion centers, on Planned Parenthood and on our communities. We need your presence to continue the momentum!
The following are some frequently asked questions and answers about sidewalk counseling or witnesses, courtesy of the ProLife Action League:
Know Your Rights as a Sidewalk Counselor
Many pro-lifers are unaware of precisely what their rights are to sidewalk counsel outside abortion facilities. Here we answer some of the most common questions about those rights:
1. Is sidewalk counseling a constitutional right? YES. The First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution protects the "freedom of speech." The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that peaceful communication—such as spoken words, display of signs and leafleting—are all protected forms of free speech, especially in public places like sidewalks and parks.
2. What if somebody tells me to "shut up" or to go away? The right to free speech in public places does not depend upon the consent of the listeners. The Supreme Court has consistently ruled that speech cannot be censored simply because the speaker's message irritates or offends a listener. In fact, the Supreme court has even mentioned the phrase, "Abortion is Murder," as an example of free speech. (Note: We don't recommend using that phrase as you approach an abortion-bound woman. It is intended to illustrate the extent of our rights.)
3. Does the FACE bill outlaw sidewalk counseling? No. The 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act does not prohibit sidewalk counseling. FACE makes it a federal offense when someone "by force or threat of force or by physical obstruction, intentionally injures, intimidates or interferes with" any person because that person is "obtaining or providing reproductive health services." FACE specifically exempts "any expressive conduct (including peaceful picketing or other peaceful demonstration protected by the First Amendment." A sidewalk counselor who uses neither force, nor threats of force, nor physical obstruction, does not violate FACE.
4. Is it "mean" to witness outside an abortion clinic? This question was asked of David Bereit, the director of 40 Days For Life by a person who felt that by witnessing outside a clinic, a woman that has already made up her mind and may be in despair will become hurt even worse by seeing those standing witness. His answer:
"Our intent ..... is to bring the truth, love, forgiveness and hope of Christ to the abortion clinic…which is so full of despair, anger and deceit. We do this because we have FAITH that when we stand there, as Christians, that the Holy Spirit is REALLY present in that place, and we TRUST HIM to do HIS work on the hearts of the women going in to the clinic, and on the hearts of the family members who are with them, and on the hearts of the passersby. So our intention is not to cause pain to these poor women, our intention is to help them and hope that through our physical witness the Holy Spirit will bring good from evil…even when they go ahead with the abortion. Sometimes one has to hurt before the healing can start..... If we think our presence there won’t do any good, then we really don’t believe that God is at work through us…and if that is the case, then it IS mean. So, I invite everyone who has FAITH to come and participate in the vigil! This is only for the faith-filled Christian!"
Click Here to download a Cloud of Witnesses Brochure
Click Here to download printable Vigil Guidelines and Locations Map
*The map of the abortion clinic locations also contains directions to the Akron location of Planned Parenthood. Although there are no abortions performed at this particular facility, Planned Parenthood is a strong advocate of abortion, and also supplies inappropriate and unacceptable literature about sexuality and other subjects to our youth through schools and other institutions. There are many occasions when we hold vigil at this location also.
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