Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.
So a few days ago, my friend Angela, who is participating in 40 Days for Life, gets word that protestors from something called “Seattle Clinic Defense” are going to show up for a two-hour counter-protest at the Seattle Madison Planned Parenthood Clinic.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, 40 Days for Life is a non-violent, non-gory photo, prayerful witness to the goodness of human life that is going on all over the country and in Canada right now. Not only does the USCCB endorse it, but a number of bishops participate in it personally.
Essentially, 40 Days for Life consists of a round-the-clock (if possible) prayer vigil at a clinic, with the prayer typically being the Rosary. (Go Mama Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary and Our Lady of Victory!). One fruitful result here in the So Blue We are Ultra-Violet Soviet of Washington State is that the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Seattle’s University District has closed. The University District is, with the possible of exception of Fremont, the most leftistist of areas in Seattle. So now 40 Days for Life has been praying outside the clinic on Madison, which is more downtownish.
Anyway, my friend Angela and some others, did not quite knowing what to expect, but were familiar with the tactics employed by other representatives of Violent Intolerant Brownshirt Free Speech Crushers for Abortion:
So my friend didn’t know what to expect when she went to pray. She wasn’t even sure if other 40DFL folks would be there to accompany her and her friend as they prayed. Would she spend an hour getting screamed at and even assaulted?
Turns out she had nothing to worry about. A handful of aging women in clogs, wearing blocky wooden “I’m a Unitarian granola eater who doesn’t want trouble” jewelry, burlap eco-sac purses, sporting short-cropped iron gray hair and bearing a couple of tepid “pro-choice” signs were all that turned up. They stood nearby, silent, snobby, and dispirited and refused to speak to the 40 Days for Life folks. Meanwhile, a good crowd of pro-life folk showed up, were buoyant and joyous, and prayed happily while one car after another honked in support. Once, a troop of bicyclists went by and cheered for the 40 Days folk. The “Clinic Defense” folk thinking they were cheering for them, gave the bikers a thumbs up and the biker yelled back, “Not you! Them!” and pointed to our guys.
This illustrates the best part: namely, that the Planned Parenthood guys did not want the counter-protestors there at all—because the average driver hurrying down Madison could not tell the difference between the 40 Days for Life folk and the small clump of counter-protestors standing nearby. All the “Clinic Defense” people succeeded in doing was make the 40 Days for Life protest look bigger than it actually was. Good job!
After a half hour, a mom who had turned up with her two bored daughters bailed on the little clump of pro-abortion relics of the 60s and took off. My friend thought, “We’re here round the clock and these people couldn’t last a half hour out of a measly two hour commitment? Man! This counter-protest sucks!” The only sort of tepid attempt at intimidation the Clinic Defense protestors could muster was to snicker when the 40 DFL people prayed. Even the 40 DFL signs were better!
Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me! Let them be put to shame and confusion altogether who seek to snatch away my life; let them be turned back and brought to dishonor who desire my hurt! - Psalm 40:13-14