Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pro-Life Forces Confront Abortion Patients

They plan to hold a pep rally with Sarah Palin

On Thursday mornings, the candidates for surgical abortions
come to the Planned Parenthood clinic on Waco's Columbus

It's a quiet and dignified, tree-lined street lined with old
money mansions, some of them converted to treatment centers
and halfway houses for drug offenders and parolees.

There is a very large and imposing red brick Southern
Baptist Convention congregation, Columbus Avenue Baptist.

Right next door is St. Mary's Catholic Church.

Further on downtown, near the Courthouse, is the Masonic
Grand Lodge of Texas, A.F.& A.M. Equally imposing, its huge
limestone veneer walls are covered with bas relief sculpture
of quarrymen, entered apprentices, fellowcraft and master
masons working on King Solomon's Temple. They were sculpted
by a famous Parisian artist.

It's that kind of neighborhood, steeped in the grandeur of a
once and future establishment and all its trappings.

As it turns out, Columbus Avenue is the home of a curious
ritual that has persisted for many years, through heat and
snow, drought and violent thunderstorms.

Thursday is the day for surgical abortions.

About 20 activists attend the Thursday morning vigils,
"including children."

A leader in the local Pro-Life movement said in remarks at a
monthly meeting held today, "I think children should be

When the patients for surgical abortion arrive, the anti-
abortion demonstrators line the driveway and sidewalk in
front of the low-slung brick professional building.

They try to get the patients who are going inside to
terminate their pregnancy to cross the parking lot and talk
to them. They carry signs depicting aborted fetuses. They
hand out literature.

One of their most popular missives says, "Abortion is always
the wrong choice."

In fact, the organization pays to lease small billboards
plastered with the same message outside the abortion clinics
located in Groesbeck, Ross, Temple and other Central Texas

It's called "Sidewalk Counseling" and sometimes it's

John Pisciotta recalls one couple in particular. They did
not stop their car to talk. They went on in the parking lot
and sat and talked for 15 minutes. Then they drove away
smiling and waving to the sidewalk counselors.

"We saved a baby that day.

"We're kind of guessing, at times," Mr. Pisciotta told his
audience at St. Mary's Fellowship Hall who had gathered
after church for a "Second Sunday" spaghetti lunch and to
talk about anti-abortion strategy.

"We don't really know what goes on inside the abortuary."

They call the abortion clinics "abortuaries."

Those patients who do not change their minds a leave a
little after luch, around one or two p.m.

Each one is carrying a single stem red rose in her hand.
The staff of Planned Parenthood present them with the roses
as they exit.

A woman sitting at one of the long lines of cafeteria tables
stood and said of the women who go through with a surgical
abortion, "They're sad. They're emotionally drained.

"You can tell by looking at them. They're carrying a red
rose. Planned Parenthood gives them a red rose."

Another woman sitting in the audience spoke up and said, "We
ought to give each one of them a white rose."

Mr. Pisciotta, who said he and his son arrived about 7 a.m.
Sunday morning at St. Mary's to prepare the excellent
marinara sauce used on the meatballs and bowtie pasta that
is typically served at Second Sunday, told his supporters,
many of whom have been involved in this ministry for many
years, that he would like to hear from them.

"Does anyone have anything they want to say?"

He invited them to come to the podium and make brief

No one spoke up right away. Mr. Pisciotta waited patiently.

A veteran of the sidewalk wars for the lives of unborn
children, he added, "Planned Parenthood coaches them very
specifically not to talk to us when they come in."

He maintains a website for the sidewalk ministry at

It quotes Proverbs,31:8, "Speak up for those who cannot
speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are
destitute" and "Proverbs 24:11-12, "Rescue those being led
away to death; hold back those staggering toward

He said, "I think Planned Parenthood should be confronted at
every single turn in everything they let people know
that this is not a positive force in your neighborhood."

When he announced that Ms. Pam Smallwood, long-term director
of the Waco Planned Parenthood Clinic, is leaving to take up
a post as Chief Operating Office of that organization's
Texas Capital Regional Austin office, the throng of almost a
hundred crowding the Fellowship Hall burst into applause.

Ms. Smallwood is 57 and has held her post at Waco for almost
30 years. She told media outlets in February that her new
job at Austin will allow her to narrow her focus solely to
patient health care.

An announcement that Sarah Palin will address the Pro-Life
alternative service, CareNet, to be held in September at
Baylor University's Ferrell Center basketball gymnasium,
also garnered enthusiastic applause.

A former cheerleader and beauty contest winner, Mrs. Palin
is the former Governor of Alaska. She was Senator John
McCain's Vice Presidential running mate in the elections of

"It's not just for Catholics any more," Mr. Pisciotta said
with pride.

A final note in these small battles of the culture wars is
about the Girl Scouts of America passing out what the Pro-
Life movement terms Planned Parenthood literature at the
United Nations in New York City.

The flyer reads, in part, "Many people think sex is just
about vaginal or anal intercourse...But, there a lots of
different ways to have sex. Just have fun, explore and be

According to the brochures, "National laws requiring HIV-
positive people to reveal their status to their partner(s)
"violate the rights of people living with HIV...There are
many reasons that people do not share their HIV status. They
may worry that people will find out something else they have
kept secret, like they are using injecting drugs, having sex
outside of a marriage or having sex with people of the same

To counter such ideas, the Pro-Life movement holds 40-day
Prayer and Fasting rituals.

Part of the program, which includes rosaries and masses, is
to state and re-state the affirmations, "I believe in
chastity; I believe in life; I believe in respect for the

In closing, a man stood and read an old letter to the editor
regarding a woman who had given birth to a one-year old
child and was again pregnant.

She was in a doctor's office asking for relief through his
surgical expertise.

In the narrative, the doctor is just as willing, in fact
prefers, to terminate the life of the one year-old child.

He takes up his knife and the woman reacts in horror.

The man, a graying gentleman of an age dressed to the nines
in brightly polished cowboy boots and a well-fit sport coat
and slacks, had a look of triumph upon his face as he
regained his seat.

At this point, The Legendary chose to leave the room.

He had been weeping softly for a half hour and he had become
very uncomfortable. It was time for The Legendary to leave
because, for God's sake, he was out of paper napkins to dab
at his eyes and wipe his running nose.

He repeated the Our Father several times on his way home.
This prayer, attributed to Jesus, who was said to have been
asked, after the Sermon on the Mount when one of the
Apostles said, "Rabbi, teach us to pray," gave The Legendary
some comfort.

War, even cultural war, is hell, as General Sherman said; in
its cruelty, you cannot refine it.

The Legendary agreed with the General several times as his
Chevrolet pickup hummed down Highway 6 toward home.

He was left with no choice but to pray.

There is no sugar coating available for this conflict. After
all, it involves a death in the family.

"Jesus wept."


So mote it be.

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