Vigil for Life Series Part 2: My first turnaround as a sidewalk counselor

In part one of our three-part series on Vigil for Life of Madison, I wrote about Vigil for Life of Madison, a volunteer-led pro-life apostolate that keeps Vigil in front of Planned Parenthood year-round and how it has seen an explosion in the number of saved babies and turnaround clients. Read on for part two.

From time-to-time, I hear veteran sidewalk counselors talk about how as they traveled to their local abortion facility for their shift that they "just knew something was going to happen."

I got a glimpse of that premonition on Tuesday as I drove to Planned Parenthood. Ordinarily, I'd probably just turn on the Jim Rome Show or something else on the radio for my drive, but on Tuesday I strongly felt like I needed to "pre-pray." So I invoked the Holy Spirit, the protection of St. Michael and the mercy of God as I approached the abortion facility.

I ran out of pro-life literature so I intended to simply pray and didn't expect I'd do any sidewalk counseling. But after I finished my Rosary and said greeted my prayer partner, she mentioned that she had some extra fliers for the Women's Care Center and would I like them?


(A quick aside: to be perfectly honest, I don't like sidewalk counseling. I get a nervous pit in my stomach nearly every time I prepare to do it. But when lives and souls are at stake, there's no room for nerves so I do it anyway.)

Planned Parenthood was pretty quiet on Tuesday, but in the middle of my two-hour shift, two women drove in. "Can I give you this brochure about getting a free second opinion across the street?" I shouted, my mind nervously wondering why I just referred to a flier as a brochure and expecting my offer to be ignored.

To my surprise, the women approached me. They appeared to be about 20 years old, and one of them said she had come for a pregnancy test and some birth control.

"But I'm not for abortion. If I'm pregnant, I'm totally keeping the baby," she added. "I would only have an abortion if it would mean it would harm me."

"That's great!" I responded, thinking to myself that the abortion industry has been known to exaggerate the risks of pregnancy as part of its abortion sales pitch for women like this. "But did you know that this place is the leading abortion provider in Wisconsin?"

"Actually, I did NOT know that," one of the women responded.

We talked for awhile, and I suggested that they check out the free help at the Women's Care Center rather than go into Planned Parenthood. They took my fliers and said they would see if they needed to pay for the pregnancy test at Planned Parenthood. After all my years of involvement, this was the first time I'd ever sidewalk counseled someone into leaving Planned Parenthood.

Moments later, they came out of the building. They would, in fact, be charged. Across the street they went. When they drove past me following the appointment at the Women's Care Center, I asked how it went.

She reported that it was too early to find out whether she was pregnant. But with regards to the Women's Care Center, she said, "I think I like it. It's definitely more calming, and they're much nicer!"

I'll almost certainly never know the next chapter of this woman's story. But I do know that if it was too early to do a pregnancy test, this woman who was against abortion might very well have been sold the morning after pill. In either case, she left without her contraception that day. Hopefully, the Women's Care Center will help foster a life of chastity for her.

Mary, Mother of Purity, Pray for us!


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