Note: Priests for Life is eager to share, by means of this website, various methods and approaches to sidewalk counseling and other attempts to dissuade women from having abortions. The following is a description of one such approach:
Through the use of a unique sidewalk counseling technique known as the "Chicago Method," hundreds of pregnant mothers have been turned away from Chicago area abortion centers. You too can be trained to save babies using this method.
The Chicago Method has been tried under various circumstances, varying degrees of harassment, and varying access to abortion mill victims, and has proven effective even under the most difficult conditions.
A Description of the Chicago Method:
When you approach the pregnant woman and her escort, say, "Excuse me. Are you going to the medical center here? Did you know about the medical malpractice lawsuits against this place?"
Give the pregnant woman and her escort factual information about the specific abortuary they are about to enter. Repeat this information until it produces the desired effect of disturbing them. Develop visual aids, such as a sheet that summarizes the malpractice lawsuits against the mill, especially the abortion-related lawsuits. Newspaper articles about scandalous conditions in the abortion mill are also helpful.
After a minute or two, when the potential abortion client is sufficiently and justifiably disturbed by negative factual information about the abortion clinic, give her literature about an alternative center where she can go immediately for a free pregnancy test and counseling help.
The pregnancy help agencies used in conjunction with this method will ideally have a neutral-sounding name like "Women's Aid Center." It's purpose is to attract and help women who are undecided about abortion or who think they need abortion.
You might mention that the alternative center is a non-profit group concerned with women's health and safety, that it has no malpractice lawsuits against it, and that its services are free. Encourage her to go there immediately. You might even offer to escort her there.
At the pregnancy help agencies pro-life information and presentations are effectively given.
Trouble Shooting the Method:
In situations where there is no pregnancy help agency available, use the same technique to draw women to a nearby restaurant or coffee shop for more extensive counseling.
It is absolutely vital to the success of the technique that you not disclose that you are an anti-abortionist or that the agency you are taking your clients to will not give them an abortion or a referral. You need not lie to accomplish this. Just reveal as much of the truth as you need to and no more.
It is important to meet potential turnaways as far away from the abortuary door as possible. Walk up the sidewalk or street to meet them whenever you can. The closer the pregnant woman gets to the abortuary door the greater the temptation is for her to rush past you and go in. This is especially true if she is being led in by a deathscort or boyfriend.
If a woman refuses to stop and listen to you, say something like "That place has many lawsuits against it, Miss. We're trying to warn people about it." Sometimes this warning will make her curious enough to come out after thinking things over.
The "Don't kill your baby!" approach often makes future communication difficult. Remember that at a busy abortion mill women may go in and out of the building several times before having their abortions. They are more likely to come out if you are not picketing or waving pro-life literature at them, telling them not to kill their baby. Picketing and last effort tactics have their place, but usually not in conjunction with this counseling technique.
If a woman asks you whether the alternative center does abortions, say something like "They'll give you all the help you need. They give abortion information and confidential medical referrals. They'll be glad to talk to you about it, and their services are free." This is precisely the truth.
Do your best to change the subject by telling her how to get to the alternative center. It is helpful to have professionally printed cards from the pregnancy center that relates general facts, such as that no appointment is needed for free confidential pregnancy tests, and that gives directions, and hours. Let the prospective turnaways find out for themselves that the pregnancy help center is in the business of saving lives and not destroying them.
Two counselors is the optimum number for effectively counseling one pregnant woman. Large groups tend to intimidate her.
You should escort the turnaway to the pregnancy help center if possible. She may need your support at this point until she can talk with the counselor at the center. The pro-life escort should preferably be a woman, since most turnaways will feel more comfortable going into a strange building escorted by a woman.
Do not take too much time with each client, The quicker the turnaway the better. The average time for this method is two minutes from initial contact to the escort phase. This will free you up to talk to other women going to the clinic.
Lawsuits are a matter of public record and are available for scrutiny and public use at any county court house. The clerks at your court house will be glad to tell you how to look up any lawsuit that might have been filed against an abortion mill or abortionist. This information will help you prepare some of the handouts that were mentioned at the beginning of this brochure.
Atrocity stories about an abortuary may have been exposed in newspaper articles. More commonly, you will find these stories by doing some elementary research on the malpractice lawsuits on file, or by speaking with women who have been exploited by abortion. Use these news clips and stories.
Counselors who do not have the "gift of gab" can use the Chicago technique effectively. It can be taught in minutes and requires absolutely no knowledge of such subjects as fetal gynecological problems, and so on. Counselors who have had virtually no success using the "Please don't let them kill your baby" approach have been able to turn many women away from the mills using the Chicago Method.
The Chicago Method rarely causes a hostile response from those who are approached on the street as potential abortion mill clients. Because the method is "low key," it leaves the door open to future communication with those who enter the abortion mill and later come out because of second thoughts about the abortion or about the safety of the abortion.
For information on the Chicago Method contact:
The Pro-Life Action League 6160 N. Cicero Ave. #600 Chicago, IL 60646 Phone 773-777-2900 (and the hotline is 773-777-2525
For more ideas on sidewalk counseling and other effective ways to see abortion stopped in your community, Joe Scheidler's book Closed: 99 Ways to Stop Abortion is a must.
We acknowledge the contribution of Greg Morrow, Laura Nelson, Richard Freeman and Dave DeFank to this Method of Sidewalk Counseling. A special thanks to Richard Freeman for his contribution of the original text.