My Day Outside Planned Parenthood

The moral gravity of procured abortion is apparent in all its truth if we recognize that we are dealing with murder and, in particular, when we consider the specific elements involved. The one eliminated is a human being at the very beginning of life. No one more absolutely innocent could be imagined.Evangelium Vitae

I rounded the corner and saw a man standing with a sign that read “Babies are killed here,” and then I looked up to see the building. It’s just a small one-story building, but the Planned Parenthood sign out front gave me the chills and brought tears to my eyes as I thought that, yes, indeed, babies are killed here.

I parked in the nondenominational church lot across the street and went to meet the people from my parish who had taken time slots praying in front of Planned Parenthood as part of 40 Days for Life. I had never prayed in front of an abortion facility before, and I really wasn’t sure how I would feel.

My parish had created signs, so I looked through the available ones and took a sign that read “Every life is precious” because I wholeheartedly believe that. Every single person—regardless of race, creed, color, size, ability, age, or gender—is a unique and unrepeatable person who should be cherished and valued. And I wanted the people who read my sign to know that I think they matter.

The day I prayed was the feast of St. John Paul II, and I have a rosary blessed by him, so I thought it only fitting that I take it with me. I held it and prayed for the women who might seek Planned Parenthood’s assistance that day. I prayed that they would see the value in their babies and in being a mother. I prayed that they would see our signs and know that we care. I prayed for their strength, so that they would know they are strong and can handle a surprise pregnancy.

Planned Parenthood claims it wants to empower women. Well, it definitely empowered me that day. As I stood on the sidewalk, holding my sign and praying, I stood directly across from the PP sign. In my mind, I was David standing up against Goliath. I may be just one woman, but I was proudly telling the community that I care. PP’s sign, which reads “Care. No matter what” seemed quite ironic. Its brand of “care” hurts women and kills babies. But my sign also had a version of “care, no matter what.” I was telling people that everyone matters. And I meant it.

Why Stand in Front of Planned Parenthood?

Several people have asked me why I would take time out of my day and stand on a street corner holding a sign. Before I went, I could only say that I felt called to do it. I had never felt this calling before, though I applauded people who did. It just wasn’t for me. But when I saw the sign-up sheet at my church, I had just finished watching Unplanned for the third time (my team and I are creating a study guide for the movie) and I felt impassioned. My inner voice told me I should go.

I stood on that street corner proudly. I stood confident, never fearing anything. I had Christ and St. John Paul II on my side. I prayed the rosary, and I held my sign and waved to people. This particular Planned Parenthood is located at a busy intersection in a not-so-great part of town and very near the highway. Traffic never ceased.

Most people waved and honked as they drove by. Many gave the thumbs up sign. One guy stopped at the light, rolled his window down, and pulled out his phone. He took a picture of me with my sign and one of the man holding the sign that said “Babies die here.” He waved kindly to us and drove away. Maybe he will put those pictures on social media. Maybe he will show his coworkers or family. Maybe he—or they—will think. Think about the babies who die there, about the desperate women taken advantage of rather than actually helped, of the countless lives lost day after day after day. Yes, maybe they will think. For the two hours I stood there, only three people reacted negatively. One shook his head and then gave a thumbs down sign. Two gave us “the bird.” We smiled kindly, because all life is precious.

Those who smiled and waved were as diverse as the city. From construction workers to bikers, from elderly people to young people. Black, white, Hispanic, and Asian. You don’t have to be a certain age, race, or color to understand that babies die at Planned Parenthood and that all life is precious. Those are simply facts. And we were there to tell the truth.

Some cars going by had two people in the front seat. Depending on which side of the road they were on, one would point out the signs and the other would lean over to look. I watched this happen several times. Then they would wave. Chances are, we started a conversation right there.

And maybe a conversation was had later at home when those who saw us told their spouse, their sister, their mom, or their kids. Maybe we got them to think too. We will never know the reach we were able to have by standing there that day.

At one point, I saw what looked to be a mother and daughter driving down the small side street by PP—the street that offered the only entrance to the facility. They had to stop right in front of me because of the red light. The daughter, who was maybe 17 or 18, and who looked pale and sick, rolled down the window and stared sadly at me. It looked like she was writing on something in her lap. I expected her to throw something out of the window, but she never did. The light changed and they drove away. About 15 minutes later, they were again driving down the same side road—which only went to a small group of houses—and stopped at the light. I will never know why they circled the block like that, but I found it strange, and I had to wonder if maybe they had been on their way to Planned Parenthood. Maybe we changed their minds.

St. John Paul II said: “To claim the right to abortion . . . and to recognize that right in law, means to attribute to human freedom a perverse and evil significance: that of an absolute power over others and against others. This is the death of true freedom.”

We must never deny the fact that abortion is a grave evil and that every abortion takes the life of an innocent child. As pro-lifers, it is our job to impart that to others and to act upon the words that we live by.

So now when people ask me why I prayed in front of Planned Parenthood and if I plan to go back and do it again, I know exactly what I’ll say. I’ll say that I feel empowered standing up to an organization that thinks that killing babies, maiming their mothers, and stealing the souls of young children is okay. I’ll say that I want to turn heads and make people think. I’ll say I want women to know that pro-lifers care, no matter what—and that our care does not cost them the life of their child.

Maybe I didn’t save any lives that day. But maybe I saved a soul.

About Susan Ciancio

Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 17 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials, and website content. Ten of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the editor of its Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program, an educational nonprofit program for k-12 students.

1 Comment

  1. Jennifer Minnick on October 29, 2019 at 6:33 PM

    I believe you did save the life of an unborn baby that happened to start his or her life in that young girl who drove by. Thank you Susan for your hard work in protesting to save human life. Thank you for your prayers and dedication to the rosary. The world needs more women like you. Thank you.

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