Whistles blasting our ears. Planned Parenthood supporters in sunglasses and bandanas. Stalking. These were just a few of the things that Denver Pro-Life Future experienced on Saturday, April 8th, during our “We Don’t Need Planned Parenthood” outreach.
It was 2:45pm. As I looked around to find our group, a middle-aged lady came up and asked if I was meeting people here.
“Yes, I’m meeting a group here. Are you?” I responded.
“Yes, but what group are you with?” she asked.
“Is it something about Planned Parenthood?”
“Yes, but which side are you on?”
“I’m with the Denver Pro-Life Future group, and we’re informing people about community health centers.”
“Well, I’m on the other side,” she said backing away from me.
I attempted to build a bridge by introducing myself. She told me that her name was Robin and that she wanted to let people know that Planned Parenthood did cancer screenings and helped women who would die from having their babies.
“Community health centers offer breast exams and mammograms, and if a woman’s life is in danger, an early delivery can be done,” I responded. However, Robin wasn’t receptive to this information.
Shortly after meeting Robin, the rest of the Denver Pro-Life Future group arrived. We decided to hold the “We Don’t Need Planned Parenthood” banners to engage passersby on the downtown Denver 16th Street Mall, which is famous for shops and foot traffic.
On the way to pick up the banners from my car, a young photographer stopped us, asking what petition we were having people sign. “We’re with Denver Pro-Life Future, and we are letting people know why we don’t need Planned Parenthood.” “Oh,” he said stepping back. “I’m pro-life. I don’t support Planned Parenthood,” as if he thought we did. “We are too! Want to join us and help with our event?!”
Our newest Pro-Life Future member, Leon became our event photographer and stuck by us for the whole event. He even held one of our “We Don’t Need Planned Parenthood” banners.
Back at the appointed corner of Arapahoe and 16th Street, we revealed our banners and began to engage people in conversation. One man in sunglasses standing by Robin came up, and I introduced myself. “What’s your name?” I asked. “I’m your biggest fan,” he responded with a smirk.
In a minute, a car drove by and dropped off several more Planned Parenthood supporters. Most wore dark sunglasses, bright yellow safety vests. Two of the new arrivals covered their faces with navy blue bandanas.
Soon the Planned Parenthood supporters turned up their portable stereo, blasting music in an attempt to drown out our conversations. The group began jumping and dancing. They chanted loudly, “Anti-Planned Parenthood, Anti-Choice, Anti-Woman.”
Needless to say, their efforts to intimidate us didn’t work. We stayed and continued to outreach to passersby.
Helping a homeless father, Informing a student
Towards the beginning of the event, I met a young man who told me that he just found out that his wife was three weeks pregnant. This was an unplanned pregnancy, and he was homeless and struggling to find a place to live. I gave him info on a local family shelter, the community health center info card, and a drop card for Alternatives Pregnancy Center where he and his wife could receive material support.
Next, a man on his bike stopped and began dialoguing with the Planned Parenthood supporters. I approached him and informed him of the community health centers. He was surprised and left mentioning that they were “pretty lit.” One of the Planned Parenthood supporters turned to me and said, “You really prepped for this.” “Yes, of course, I did!” I responded.
After this interaction, the Planned Parenthood crew must have realized that when we [the Pro-Life Future group] engaged in honest, respectful dialogue with passersby, we changed hearts. So, from here on out, they got vicious. They began shouting in our ears, whistling when we were talking to pedestrians, and tearing up any postcards that people dropped after they yelled at them to throw away our postcards which were “lies.” They shouted, “Agent Orange kills. Don’t take the orange pill” (referring to our orange banners and flyers).
At one point, the Planned Parenthood supporter who had previously introduced himself as “Your Biggest Fan” shouted, “That [flyer] is anti-woman…!” A few minutes later, I mentioned to him, “You notice that I’m a woman, right?” He scoffed, “Yes, and that’s what really perturbs me!”
I smiled inside. If only he knew that the Pro-Life Movement is largely comprised of women!
Another notable moment was when a high school guy took our card and wanted to hear what I had to say. During the conversation, one of the protestors came up and literally touched my arm with her arm. I could feel our arm hairs touching. As I tried to explain to the high school student about community health centers, the Planned Parenthood girl shouted in his ear. Finally, he heard me tell him to take the card and read it. A few steps away, he looked back and me and smiled. I returned his smile with a smile and a thumbs up. We both knew that we were on the same side.
What happened next
Many of the pedestrians were turned off by the Planned Parenthood supporters’ abrasive, rude, and uncivilized behavior. However, what I’ve just described wasn’t what made this the most intense pro-life activism I’ve ever experienced. It was what happened next.
Around 5pm, we rolled up our banners and split ways with five of us heading towards my car. Three of the Planned Parenthood supporters (i.e. the two with bandanas and their main ringleader) followed us only a few feet behind. At first, it was humorous, and we joked with them.
They didn’t stop following us. When we stood across the street from my car – two blocks away from our event location – I decided to walk past where my car was parked. Then the five of us slit up. The Planned Parenthood supporters didn’t follow my group of three girls; so we breathed a sigh of relief and decided to walk around the block just to make sure that we had lost them. I called the other Pro-Life Future members and asked them to meet me at my car.
When we walked around the block and came to my car, the masked Planned Parenthood supporters were somehow across the street and started yelling, “My Body, My Choice!” We again continued walking past my car as they crossed to our side of the street.
We quickly walked down the block and ducked behind a building. At this point, I was ready to call the police if they continued to follow us. Fortunately, they didn’t.
We will not be intimidated
Saturday was intense. It was the most intense pro-life outreach I have ever done, but I am proud to have worked alongside Denver Pro-Life Future to share accurate, life-affirming information and resources through our We Don’t Need Planned Parenthood display. Despite the aggressive efforts of these Planned Parenthood supporters, we will continue to respectfully and truthfully engage the public. We are not alone in this. We are the Pro-Life Generation, and yes, we will abolish abortion in our lifetime.
This post is contributed by Bethany Janzen, Students for Life of America Rocky Mountain Regional Coordinator. For more information on SFLA’s “We Don’t Need Planned Parenthood” display, please see our website: www.wedontneedpp.com.