Pro-Life Frontline Strategies: Carrying the Fight to the Enemy

Author: A.L.L.


American Life League

I do not pray for a lighter load, but for a stronger back.

                                                                                                 Phillips Brooks.

Anti-Life Philosophy.

Anti-choice people have no right whatsoever to confront any woman who has made the decision to terminate her pregnancy. She has made up her mind, and any attempt to dissuade her is pure harassment.

Besides, picketing, sit-ins, and so-called 'sidewalk counseling' lead directly to clinic bombings, assaults, vandalism, and other acts of terrorism by the less stable members of the anti-choice movement.


War hath no fury like a non-combatant.

                                                                              British writer C.E. Montague.[1]

Christians are commanded by Proverbs 24: 11-12 to rescue those being dragged to their deaths. True followers of Christ literally have no choice in the matter.

There are several primary means to do this through what pro-life activists call 'non-violent direct action.'

Direct action involves any activity that will act directly to take money away from the abortionists and their toadies. Direct action is also identified by its necessary face-to-face contact with women who are considering hiring an abortionist to kill their children.

By contrast, indirect action supports direct action by making the job of the frontline troops easier or by making the job of the abortionists more difficult or unpleasant. Indirect action does not require face-to-face contact with women considering abortion.

The four types of direct action described in this chapter are;

•rescue missions
• sidewalk counseling
• picketing
• crisis pregnancy center (CPC) work

The idea behind direct action, and particularly rescue missions, is that writing and legislative action may very well preserve the lives of babies not yet conceived at some undefined time in the future, but direct action may save those scheduled to die RIGHT NOW!

Direct action has a long and honorable history all over the world, but the anti-life movements believe that such action is purely their domain. They want to reserve sit-ins and picketing exclusively to themselves. They despise it when their own tactics are used effectively against them, and hypocritically label such actions "terrorism" and "harassment."

But this condemnation alone certainly should not deter pro-life activists from saving human lives.


Faith without works is as dead as a body without breath.

                                                                                                      James 2:13.

The Purposes of Rescue.

Rescue missions not only save babies and their mothers from abortion, they create a firestorm of publicity that the pro-abortion people can't put out with their best efforts.

Operation Rescue, Rescue America, and Rescue Outreach leaders know that the longer the issue is kept before the eyes of the public, the less comfortable the 'muddled middle' (and the pro-abortionists) are with it. Discomfort breeds thought, thought leads to conversion, and conversion brings action!

In just four years (1988 to 1991), more than 75,000 people risked arrest and saved more than 400 lives at a thousand separate rescues. Large operations involving more than 1,000 rescuers took place in several large cities, including Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, New York, and Atlanta.

Just as importantly, Operation Rescue has served as a stimulant for the entire pro-life movement.

Making the Leap.

Organizing and/or participating in a rescue is a great leap of faith, because pro-lifers open themselves up to arrest, jail, and lawsuits. Still, anything the biophobes can do to rescuers is trivial indeed compared to what they do to the babies. If there is an abortion mill in your area that has not experienced several rescues, something is wrong with your area churches!

One aspect of rescuing we almost always forget is the suffering of families when a husband or wife must spend a month or more in jail. It is our duty to reach out to these families and assist them through times of need, particularly when a husband or wife loses a job that the family needs for support.

If pro-lifers can make the trial easier for the families of rescuers, they will be able to continue their inspiring activities longer. As Richard Wurnbrand says in his classic book Tortured for Christ, "I tremble for Western Christians who don't help their persecuted brethren."[2]

For more complete information on rescue missions, see Chapter 81 of Volume II.

FRONTLINE ACTIVITY: Sidewalk Counseling.

Sidewalk counseling is a tactic that can bring down the whole structure of legalized abortion.

                                                             Notre Dame Law Professor Charles Rice.

A Parable.

As the old man took his customary early morning stroll along the beach, he noticed a young girl picking up starfish and tossing them back into the sea. He eventually caught up with the girl and asked her why she was doing this.

She answered that the stranded starfish would dry out and die in the sun if they were left where they were. The old man said, "But the beach goes on for miles. There must be millions of stranded starfish. How can your effort make any difference?"

The little girl gazed briefly at the starfish in her hand before tossing it to safety in the waves. "It makes a difference to this one," she answered.

The Purpose of Sidewalk Counseling.

Sidewalk counseling is a last minute intervention with women who have made appointments to kill their children or who have had pregnancy tests and may be considering abortion.

The task of the sidewalk counselor is to offer the truth to these women in the form of information on resources that may help them through a crisis pregnancy, and by offering facts about fetal development that will certainly not be provided inside the clinic.

Sidewalk counseling is a completely legal activity that has saved more lives than any other direct-action pro-life activity including rescue missions. It is no exaggeration to say that consistent sidewalk counseling has saved at least 100,000 preborn babies from a horrible death. There is no feeling in the world that compares to holding a little newborn in your own hands that would have died if not for your efforts.

According to Proverbs 24:11, it is within our power, with God's help, to save the lives of many unborn babies and to help women make the right choice for them and for the children they are carrying. Someone must be there to help by offering loving alternatives. We cannot simply say "NO!" to their actions while closing our hearts and lives to those who are in desperate need.

It is not difficult to organize five or ten people to become a consistent sidewalk counseling presence outside a particular clinic. Although this activity is perfectly legal, the pro-aborts will attempt to convince counselors that it is not, and counseling is not for everyone. But it can be a superb ministry for those persons who want to save babies, but who are not yet ready to risk arrest for one reason or another.

Because sidewalk counseling is so effective, the abortion pushers will try any tactic to stop it. Clinic personnel routinely label counselors "harassers" and "terrorists," take their pictures constantly, and even call the police occasionally, but it is still legal in the vast majority of our cities to talk to a woman or man you have never seen before.

A Last Chance for the Baby.

Sidewalk counseling is entirely different from picketing. Picketing is intended to call attention to the clinic's activities by marshalling groups of people with signs and banners. On these occasions, clinic escorts are usually present, and the resulting atmosphere of confrontation makes counseling more difficult. Picketing may detract from counseling because picketers are usually perceived as being "judgmental" by abortion clients, and so they tend to hurry by and not expect picketers to be their friends or care for them.

By contrast, sidewalk counseling in the absence of other activity on the sidewalk is usually quiet, and allows counselors to concentrate solely on giving babies one last chance to live.

Sidewalk counseling is an entirely legal activity, despite pro-abortion groups officially labeling it "harassment" and attempting to make it illegal with injunctions. Every sidewalk counselor should read and become familiar with the concepts presented in Thomas Monaghan's "Sidewalk Counseling: A First Amendment Right," a 12-page booklet published by Free Speech Advocates, New Hope, Kentucky 40051. The price is one dollar.

One invaluable aid for the counselor is the 12-week "Precious Preborn" baby model from the Christian Womanity Educational Fund, 1700 Oak Park Boulevard, Room C-4, Pleasant Hill, California 94523, telephone: (415) 943-6424. These high-quality, lifelike models of a little preborn sucking his thumb have a tremendous impact on women who are intent on killing their children.

Sidewalk Counselor Training.

Sidewalk counseling, although it sounds simple to do, requires knowledge, courage, and common sense.

It is a rare person indeed who can walk right out onto the sidewalk and begin counseling effectively without training. The three-step training program described below allows new counselors to take advantage of the experience of veterans and allows them to be better prepared for saving babies.

• Step 1: Reading and Prayer Preparation. Become familiar with fetal development, clinic schedules, local resources, and sidewalk counseling tactics. Pray about the role God is calling you to play.

• Step 2: Practice and Questions. Play-act with experienced counselors at some location away from the clinic, not under pressure, or at the clinic when it is closed. Become familiar with clinic staff and the types of clients they 'serve.'

• Step 3: Actual Counseling. Sidewalk counsel with experienced counselors until you feel prepared to counsel independently, or with another new counselor.

We must remember that every man and woman entering the abortion mill is a unique individual with very different problems and backgrounds. The same is true of every sidewalk counselor that stands outside the mill pleading for their babies' lives. The love of Jesus for all of His creations is infinite, and it should not surprise us that we will reflect this love in different ways to the clients of the clinic, in keeping with our own unique personalities.

Truth Teams.

One activity that combines important aspects of both rescue missions and sidewalk counseling is the "truth team" tactic.

This is essentially a two-person team counseling inside the clinic. The team has set up an appointment (or just enters in an impromptu manner) and may take literature from an outside pro-life sidewalk counselor and begin to discuss it inside so that other clients can hear the conversation. Truth teams can do a lot of good inside the clinic if the couple has courage and imagination.

National Help Hotlines.

Counselors may encounter a woman who has traveled from hundreds of miles away to the clinic in order to preserve her anonymity or obtain a late-term abortion. In this case, the counselors may want to call an out-of-state crisis line for information on help in her area. There are over 200 pregnancy hotlines in the United States. If a counselor knows someone in another city who needs pro-life help with an unwanted pregnancy, he may call one of the following national toll-free Pregnancy Hotline numbers for information on a CPC in his town:

1-800-238-4269 1-800-368-3336
1-800-344-7211 1-800-535-9947


Conviction is worthless unless it is converted into conduct.

                                                                                                        Thomas Carlyle.

The Purpose of Picketing.

The primary purpose of picketing is to call public attention to the slaughter going on inside local abortuaries. Pro-life activists are now also picketing outside hospitals that are euthanizing their patients.

The great thing about picketing is that it is legal, anyone can do it, and it has enormous impact especially on a place or person who has not been picketed before!

Picketing should always be accompanied by informational leafletting (otherwise, how will people know why you are there?), and can be done;

• at your local abortuaries;
• at hospitals and multiple-purpose clinics that do abortions (make certain 
  that the offending 'doctor(s)' names are very prominent on your signs);
• at the homes of abortionists (check local ordinances first abortophiles love 
  their privacy and are trying to make such tactics illegal);
• at pro-abortion fundraisers and other events;
• in front of schools being considered for sex clinics;
• in front of businesses that openly support abortion;
• anywhere that you think informational picketing will further the pro-life 
  Cause. This can be on a street corner or square, in front of a pro-abortion 
  'church,' in front of a courthouse where rescuers are being tried, or at a city 
  council meeting.

Don't Be Fooled ...

Don't be fooled into thinking that the clinics respect the right of pro-lifers to picket. They always say that they want to "balance the rights of the clinic and the protestor," but what they really want to do is eliminate all visible opposition.

For example, Bill Baird, a Hempstead, New York abortionist, said in the Spring 1989 issue of Women and Revolution that "I have been calling for a 500-foot quiet zone by every single clinic. I don't think that people have a right to demonstrate in front of clinics. The analogy that I use is the Soviet embassy. You cannot picket within 500 feet."

While pro-abortionists snivel about their rights and the 'rights of women,' they will do all they can to take our rights away. Manuals distributed by clinics even instruct their escorts in how to deprive pro-lifers of their rights. For example, the March 1989 manual "Clinic Defense: A Model," written by the Bay Area Coalition Against Operation Rescue (BACAOR), says; "As OR [Operation Rescue] has shifted to picketing more than blockading, we've learned that we can't relax and let them "just" picket. It's critical to keep pushing, to not lend any legitimacy to their harassment of women on any level. As much as we can, we are drawing lines, saying no, you can not picket on the sidewalk in front of the clinic; this is our territory. Go across the street, go away, go wherever but as far away from the clients as is possible to assert. Even if the sidewalk is "public," we've had success at putting enough of us out, early enough, to basically bully the OR's into staying across the street ... Remember, we are under no obligation to be polite to these people ... They have already broken Miss Manners code by being at the clinic at all ... Confining our behavior toward OR to the legal realm has distinct limitations."

These and other pro-abortion quotes show us that picketing is extremely effective and embarrassing to the baby-killers. All they want is to be left alone to kill in peace and privacy. Picketing tears away this treasured anonymity.


One often-neglected aspect of picketing is the proper design of placards. Nothing is more discouraging than having a flimsy sign fall apart in the rain or wind.

The general rule is to use just a few short words to make a single point in letters large enough to be seen from a considerable distance. Some ideas for signs are shown below.



For sign material, go to a graphics arts store and get a black 28" x 44" matte board and a package of white or yellow 4" or 6" Chartpak press-on letters (white or yellow letters on a jet-black background have proven to be the most sharply visible combination of colors). After you have placed your letters, use black electrician's tape to put a backing on the sign. The best backing for a sign that will be propped up, rather than held on a stick, is 1/4" thick pegboard, cut to fit the size of your sign. For a lighter-weight sign, use foamcore posterboard (available at art supply stores).

Finally, cover the entire sign front and back with clear contact acetate (this is available in 12" or 15" rolls in the shelving section of most hardware stores). Go over all the edges of the sign with another layer of electrician's tape, and pad the corners with several layers of tape.

You now have a sign that will withstand any weather and will last through at least five years of heavy use. The total cost of the 28" X 44" sign should be about $15.


Banners are even more eyecatching than signs, because they are unusual, larger, and have even greater visual impact. Two or three banners also greatly magnify the apparent size of your group. Six people holding three banners are equivalent in visual impact to thirty people with standard picket signs.

Obtain a 2' X 12' piece (or other desired size) of solid-color vinyl tablecloth material. Sew loops into the upper and lower borders of this material. Slide a 1" diameter wooden dowel through the loops so that two persons can hold them. Sew a border into the other two edges to prevent them from becoming frayed and worn. Outline the desired message in pencil and, using latex-based house paint, fill in your message using a foam brush.

Your completed banner, complete with dowels purchased from any hardware store, will cost about $15. In addition to being more visible, an advantage of a banner is that it can be rolled up and smuggled into anti-life conferences or meetings.

The Counterpicket.

There is nothing more aggravating to abortophiles than to have a handful of pro-lifers appear and steal half of their press. Small numbers have impact in a two-sided issue, and counterdemonstrating is probably the most efficient use of pro-life time in terms of getting our message across to the public.

Your few people may want to march with the pro-aborts, or even at the head of their parade, if such is possible. If the baby-killers are having a rally, stand on the street corners with your signs and banners, so passersby get the impression that all of the people in the area holding signs are pro-life.

Be careful at pro-abort events, and watch each other's backs. Pro-aborts are cowardly through and through, and it is not at all unusual for them to kick pro-lifers and run away into the crowd. They will also try to 'block' your message by holding their signs up in front of yours. The answer to this tactic is simple: use six-foot long one-inch dowels to hold your signs high!

FRONTLINE ACTIVITY: Crisis Pregnancy Centers.

Among the thousands of tiny things growing up all over the land, some of them under my very wing watched and tended, unwatched and untended, loved, unloved, protected from danger, thrust into temptation among them somewhere is the child who will write the novel that will stir men's hearts to nobler issues and incite them to better deeds.

There is the child who will paint the greatest picture or carve the greatest statue of the age; another who will deliver his country in an hour of peril; another who will give his life for a great principle; and another, who will live continually on the heights of moral being, and, dying, draw men after him.

It may be that I shall preserve one of these children to the race. It is a peg big enough on which to hang a hope, for every child born into the world is a new incarnate thought of God, an ever fresh and radiant possibility.

                                                             Kate Douglas Wiggin, "Somewhere the Child."

While pro-abortionists whine that pro-life activists don't care for the women, we have more than 75,000 volunteers quietly working in more than 2,000 Crisis Pregnancy Centers all across the nation.

This work is criticized not only by the pro-abortionists, but by some pro-lifers who consider themselves above such 'rear-echelon' work. But the CPCs save tens of thousands of mothers and babies from abortion every year, many of them diverted from abortion mills by rescuers and sidewalk counselors.

A pro-lifer who has a knack for talking to people in a crisis situation, and who is empathetic, may consider looking up a local CPC in the Yellow Pages under "Abortion Alternatives" and volunteering. The volunteer will probably be required to attend a training course, but will learn a lot.

If no CPC exists in your town, you might contact a local pastor for support and begin recruiting pro-life friends as staff members. A CPC need not be a well-stocked two-story house on church grounds; it could be an informal network of activists who are willing to help women in a crisis situation. These women, in many cases, really don't want to abort but are being directly or indirectly forced into doing so.

Some ideas for helping women that may be related to the CPC;

• establish a 'fund' of baby furniture, clothing, food, maternity needs, and 
   other necessary items;
• compile a list of pro-life doctors who will do medical exams, deliveries, and
   even laminaria removal on a volunteer or cut-rate basis;
• a delivery alone, especially for a teenaged girl, is an overwhelming 
   experience. Perhaps you could find Lamaze volunteers to accompany lone
   women through their delivery. This is an incredibly rewarding ministry.
• establish a network of shepherding homes.

For more information on the background and history of CPCs, see Chapter 47 of Volume II, "Crisis Pregnancy Centers."

References: Pro-Life Frontline Strategy.

[1] British writer C.E. Montague, quoted in Jonathon Green. The Cynic's Lexicon. New York: St. Martin's Press. 1984, 220 pages.

[2] Richard Wurmbrand. Tortured for Christ. Glendale, California: Diane Books, 1967. Page 15.

Further Reading: Pro-Life Frontline Strategy.

Jay E. Adams. Competent to Counsel
Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, Phillipsburg, New Jersey. 1978, 286 pages. The details of and Scriptural basis of Nouthetic and Rogerian counseling. This book is aimed primarily towards the pastor, but its theoretical discussions will be of use to the experienced sidewalk counselor.

ALL About Issues. 
This is a glossy, 60-page monthly pro-life newspaper published by Judie Brown's American Life Lobby. It is an excellent compendium of news briefs on pro-life activities (mainly pickets and rescues) all over the country, and includes brief commentaries on various subjects, including ALL's favorite target, Planned Parenthood. For information, write to American Life League, Post Office Box 1350, Stafford, Virginia, 22555. Telephone: (703) 659-4171.

American Civil Liberties Union. Defending the Right to Choose
This 65-page booklet, published by the fanatically pro-abortion ACLU, is essential for any pro-life organizer's library. It describes in detail the tactics that pro-aborts and clinics may use to defend against picketing and rescue missions, and also describes the limits of the rights of protesters. It is, in fact, a blueprint for pro-abortion defensive strategy. If you obtain only one book on street activism, this must be the one, because by knowing your enemy's tactics and strategy, you can avoid being taken by surprise, and you can better plan your own activities. You can pick up a copy from your local ACLU office.

Joan Andrews. You Reject Them, You Reject Me
223 pages. Order from Our Lady's Book Service, Nazareth Homestead, R.D. 1, Box 258, Constable, New York 12926, telephone: 1-800-263-8160. Joan Andrews, one of the leaders of the Rescue movement, spent nearly three years in prison (mostly in solitary confinement) for the 'crime' of damaging an abortion suction machine. This book is an autobiography and a chronicle of the Rescue movement and its motivations, written in the form of letters from prison.

Catholics United for Life. 
CUL issues this untitled 4-page aperiodic newsletter about once every six weeks. It deals primarily with the methods and spirituality surrounding sidewalk counseling. Write to Catholics United for Life, New Hope, Kentucky 40052.

John Cavanaugh-O'Keefe. No Cheap Solutions
Paperback. Order from: Life Issues Bookshelf, Sun Life, Thaxton, Virginia 24174, telephone: (703) 586-4898. Shows how non-violent direct action (rescues, picketing, and sidewalk counseling) fulfills the command given us by God in Proverbs 24:11-12 ("Rescue those being dragged to the slaughter").

John Cavanaugh-O'Keefe. "Non-Violence is an Adverb." 
Pro-Life Nonviolent Action Project, Post Office Box 2193, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20879. This pamphlet explains in detail why it is insufficient for concerned pro-lifers to just write letters and sit home and pray.

Jerry Falwell. If I Should Die Before I Wake
New York: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986. 218 pages. This unusual book narrates alternatively the thoughts of "Jennifer," a young woman contemplating abortion, and Falwell, as he gradually realizes that rhetoric against abortion is not enough. This thinking has led Rev. Falwell to establish several crisis pregnancy centers.

Jeannie Hill, R.N. "Sidewalk Counseling Workbook." 
Order from Sidewalk Counselors for Life, Post Office Box 5123, Wheat Ridge, Colorado 80034-5123. Telephone: (303) 238-1687. 1989, 52 pages.

Philip F. Lawler. Operation Rescue: A Challenge to the Nation's Conscience
Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, Indiana 46750. 1992, 153 pages. A general description of the origins of the rescue movement, profiles of national rescues and leaders, and the blind spots that the national media and the justice movement have towards pro-life rescuers.

The Life Advocate. 
This monthly publication by Advocates for Life Ministries of Portland, Oregon, is the best available newsletter on the Rescue movement. It has a glossy, high-quality cover, articles by rescue leaders all over the country, and outstanding photographs, including occasional glossy posters that can be detached and used on picket signs. For information, write to Advocates for Life Ministries, Post Office Box 13656, Portland, Oregon 97213, telephone: (503) 257-7023. AFLM also has a local/national hotline at (503) 257-3031.

Father Paul Marx. Confessions of a Pro-Life Missionary
1988, 353 pages, hardback, softback. Published by Human Life International, address given below. This is an excellent account of Father Marx's travels all over the world since he founded HLI in 1981. It is a firsthand account of his battle against U.S. 'contraceptive imperialism,' the International Planned Parenthood Federation, and abortion in dozens of countries. This book is a bound version of four years of Human Life International's Special Reports. Human Life International is the most complete source of information on the status of artificial birth control, abortion, and euthanasia in the world today. Its annual dues include 17 issues of the HLI newsletter, and for an additional fee, one can purchase 10 special reports, published about monthly. Its mailing address is Human Life International, 7845-E Airpark Road, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20879. Telephone: (301) 670-7884.

Father Paul Marx. The Flying Monk: Still Fighting for Life
1990, 160 pages. Published by Human Life International, 7845-E Airpark Road, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20879. Telephone: (301) 670-7884. A book form of Human Life International Reports numbered 61 to 73. This third book of a series covers Father Marx' adventures in Ecuador, India, South Africa, Czechoslovakia, Holland, Nicaragua, and many other nations.

Lennart Nilsson, M.D. A Child is Born: The Drama of Life Before Birth
Dell Publishing Company, 1977. Soft cover or hardbound. This book is the sidewalk counselor's favorite. It includes riveting and beautiful color photos of the unborn child, which can be used in a most effective manner to quickly disprove the clinic escort's lies about fetal development.

The Pro-Life Action League. "The Pocket-Pac Pro-Life Presentation." 
This invaluable aid to sidewalk counselors consists of eight 3-1/4 inch by 4-1/2 inch glossy color photographs of unborn children. The live babies are at 6, 8, 12, and 18 weeks, and the photographs show four victims of suction, D&E, saline, and hysterotomy abortions. These sets are available from the Pro-Life Action League, Suite 210, 6160 North Cicero Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60646. Price includes postage and handling.

The Rescuer. 
This excellent bimonthly newsletter follows the strategy and philosophy of the American rescue movement. Subscribe by writing to Defenders of Life, Post Office Box 320, Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, 19026.

Joe Scheidler. Closed: 99 Ways to Stop Abortion
350 pages, sewn softcover. Reviewed by James F. Kappus on page 44 of the August 1985 issue of ALL About Issues. Order from the Pro-Life Action League, Suite 210, 6160 North Cicero Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60646, from Ignatius Press, 15 Oakland Avenue, Harrison, New York 10528, or from Keep the Faith, 810 Belmont Avenue, Post Office Box 8261, North Haledon, New Jersey 07508, telephone: (201) 423-5395. This book, written by the head of Chicago's Pro-Life Action League, is useful for the street activist. It doesn't map out a complete local or area strategy, but is instead a conglomeration of tactics that may be used in specific situations. (c) American Life League BBS - 1-703-659-7111

© American Life League BBS — 1-703-659-7111

This is a chapter of the Pro-Life Activist's Encyclopedia, published by American Life League.