A Considerable Loss to our operation


At Survivors International ProLife Youth Conference in 2012 I heard someone say, “‘Babies are dying every day. ‘I don’t have enough time’ is not a good enough excuse for not doing anything.”  That inspired me and I have been leading activism events in my city ever since.  

My sister Thrin also attributes her inspiration to Survivors.  At Survivors ProLife Training Camp in 2012, she learned how to lead campus outreach events.  Thrin sidewalk counseled regularly at an abortion clinic near home, until they stopped performing abortions last year.

Together, my sister and I have taken time on days off from our own school schedule to lead several events with our friends at local college campuses.  We wanted to do something intellectual.  At our school, Thomas Aquinas College, we debate all the time, so we are used to the intellectual aspect of fighting abortion.

On March 4, 2014 we led an outreach at UC Santa Barbara.  For an amateur group, we did very well.  We passed out 900 informational pro-life pamphlets in about two hours, and the Survivors Outreach Team, who do this kind of thing all the time, told us that was an amazing amount of people to reach in such a short time!  We also had a lot of conversations that helped people to see the evil of abortion.

But reaching a lot of students wasn't the most exciting part of the day.  Our literature wasn’t the only thing that ended up in peoples’ hands.  One professor even ended up with one of our signs in her hands, as well, and she destroyed it.  The loss of that sign, which had an image of an abortion victim on one side, and information about abortion on the other, will be a considerable loss to our operation.

Joan Short with signs that her group of friends use to begin conversations with students about abortion.

Joan Short with signs that her group of friends use to begin conversations with students about abortion.

Our “operation” consists of three graphic signs, my family's 15-passenger van, pamphlets published by Human Life Alliance, and as many college friends as I can get to give up part of their day off.  I try to copy the Survivors' techniques for campus outreach as much as possible.

On Tuesday, I led the outreach event at UC Santa Barbara, with twelve friends, including a new girl, Sarah, who had never done pro-life activism before and was very timid about approaching people.  I gave her a sign to hold while I stood nearby passing out fliers as fast as I could.  Soon I noticed that my sister, Thrin, had brought a girl over to show her the back of the sign Sarah was holding.

Shortly after, a woman stopped by and I could see my roommate, Mairead, talking to her with Sarah chiming in now and then.  I hoped it was good conversation for Sarah's first time.  Then Thrin came around to the front of the sign and joined in.  I was afraid, at this point, that the woman might feel like they were ganging up on her.  Boy was I wrong!

As the woman's shouts of “millions of children in Africa,” “my body,” “foster-care system,” etc. got louder and louder, a crowd of students gathered around.  I could tell that Thrin wasn't getting on very well with the woman, but I still didn't want to interrupt because she is probably just as experienced as I am.  If the students could hear what Thrin was saying, then they would be able to judge who was speaking rationally.  I walked along the outer fringes of the crowd, asking what they thought.  One girl said, "I'm just listening; that's my professor."

The professor was really working the crowd, letting any student ask a question, but not letting Thrin answer anything thoroughly.  The professor shouted, "We don't need to listen to these people.  They don't have our permission to be here.  Should we tear down their sign?"  She rallied the crowd of about fifteen to chant, "Tear down this sign!  Tear down this sign!"

A few of us started talking to the students individually.  The chanting stopped as the real conversations began.  I asked one girl what she thought about the signs.  She said "I'm pro-life, I get it, but this is kind of shocking to see when you come out of class."  Her friend joined in, "You don't understand; you guys don't know what it's like to go through the foster care system."  This was familiar ground for me.  Yes, the foster care system has some major flaws and I felt sorry for the girl and told her so.

As I talked to her I noticed that the professor was walking from one group to another saying, "They're separating us; we've got to stick together."  I had gotten to the point in the conversation, where the heart of the issue is laid bare: is the fetus a living human being?

Just then, there was a general shout.  The professor had just pulled the sign away from Sarah.  Sarah looked shocked.  I tried to grab the sign, but she pulled it away from me.  Another friend, Clare, stood in her way and grabbed the sign.  Not wanting to start a brawl, I told her to let go.  The professor kept walking down the sidewalk with two students helping her.  I wasn't sure what was going to happen but kept following them and called 911 on Clare's phone.  As I talked to the police and Thrin videotaped, we followed the thieves into a building.

Walking down a hallway, the professor turned to two women standing in a doorway and asked them to get in our way so they could get away.  Luckily, they did not comply.  We turned a corner and found that the fugitives had entered an elevator.  Thinking the police might be there any minute, Thrin tried to keep the door open with her foot.  The professor tried to push Thrin out, leaving scratches on Thrin's arms.  When she couldn’t get Thrin out of the way of the door, she got out of the elevator and tried to pull Thrin away.  Thrin finally let go of the elevator door when she realized that the students inside the elevator were trying to take the video camera out of her hand, which was also holding the door open.  The elevator left without the professor, who got in the next elevator.

This whole time I was trying to explain what was going on to the police.  I was in an unfamiliar place, on an unfamiliar phone, trying to deal with a very unfamiliar situation.  Eventually, the police came, but the excitement was over.  When I got back to our group, they were just finishing passing out the fliers.  The police talked to several of us, including Sarah, and watched the video that Thrin had taken.  It was time for us to go, so we left everything in the policemen's hands and packed up.  On the way back to our school the policeman called to tell us that they had found the sign, but it had been destroyed.

Nothing like this has ever happened to me before and I hope it will never happen again, but it did not destroy the work that we did.  We were able to handle individuals.  What we did not expect to encounter was a professor inciting a mob.  Although we were interrupted, we reached a lot of students.  Many of them will not be able to think complacently about abortion ever again.  They will not have abortions themselves nor will they counsel their friends to.  With babies dying every day, we know that we have to use even our spare time to do something to end abortion.  We will continue to bring the truth about abortion to UCSB.

Editor’s note:  Our generation is doing more to end abortion than ever before!  Young people can successfully and skillfully lead pro-life events.  Remember that bringing a camera is an essential precaution when doing pro-life outreaches.  Taking footage during a pro-life outreach can make the difference in getting the police to help you when something goes wrong.

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