By Michele Hendrickson, Capital Area Regional Coordinator
Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a Texas law that requires abortionists to have admitting privileges to nearby hospitals and that abortion facilities meet the same safety standards as other outpatient facilities. This was the biggest abortion case in decades at the Supreme Court.
Students for Life of America organized a massive rally outside the Court during the oral arguments and hosted several pro-life leaders and congressmen and women (even Speaker of the House Paul Ryan came by!).
But, as with every big story, there is a side that never gets told. So here are 5 things you may have missed from the Supreme Court yesterday:
1 – The Pro-Life Generation was there ALL NIGHT in prayer.
Everything kicked off the night before the oral arguments at 7:30pm with a good crowd of students and community members who gathered in front of the Supreme Court to offer prayers for the spiritual direction of our Justices.
A big thanks to Rev. Pat Mahoney and The Prayer Furnace group for organizing the all-hours-of-the-night prayer vigil leading up to the big event the next day!
I arrived on the scene about 10PM Tuesday night along with Aimee Murphy and Lisa Twigg from Life Matters Journal, and students from George Mason University and Georgetown Visitation Prep. The energy from the group was inspiring and it was clear no one would really be sleeping. We attempted to schedule shifts for napping in a near-by office, but most were too excited. I got about a 10 minute check-in with REM sleep before someone started using the microwave. Who eats Mac and Cheese at 3:30AM!? Oh right… college students.
As it neared the early morning hours, the weather changed from the cool breeze of a spring-like day to bitter cold, rain, and heavy winds.
Around 1:30 am, a reporter from The Washington Post arrived to interview those waiting in line for the hearing, when she stumbled across our little group. She spent some time talking with us and included our side in her article:
“This is a small group of people who are … really calling on God to move on this issue,” said Michele Hendrickson. As a coordinator for the advocacy group Students for Life of America, Hendrickson helped organize the gathering.
Hendrickson said she’s motivated by the horror stories she’s heard about unsafe abortion clinics — like the grisly and in some cases, deadly procedures at Kermit Gosnell’s clinic in Philadelphia. Those stories, and prayer, will keep her up.
2 – Pro-choice Activists were bussed in from 100’s of miles away.
NARAL, Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and other pro-abortion organizations are BIG business. The pro-choice presence at the courts was not the grassroots effort they’d like you to think they were.
Their large numbers in front of the court that day can be explained in one word: money.
Remember, Planned Parenthood receives 40% of its income from taxpayers and profits from abortion. Students for Life of America receives 0% from the government and uses outside donations to support women and their children with real and loving options.
NARAL made a huge push to BUS people in from hundreds of miles away! Just read these posts…
Students for Life of America mobilized over 60 students from local DC, VA, and MD groups who drove themselves, filled their own gas tanks, and paid their own metro tickets.
There was even an advertisement found in D.C. offering to pay pro-abortion people to show up!
3 – Pro-choice Activists Were Violent, Nasty, and Disrespectful
When Students for Life of America started our rally at 10AM, hours after abortion advocates had their turn talking at their own rally next to us, several of their participants rushed over to shout and shove their way through our students listening to the speakers.
In order to protect the brave men and women sharing their stories and statements from the podium, students had to link arms around the stage and keep protestors from breaking through.
Students as young as high school aged were pushed, yelled at, and shoved aside.Some students quickly huddled around their adult chaperone to respond in peaceful prayer.
We even had one student group choose to remove themselves from the event entirely because they were so overwhelmed by the anger and intolerance of abortion advocates interrupting the rally.
It was one of the ugliest displays of disrespect I’ve ever seen at one of our rallies.
4 – None of the Pro-Choice Activists We Spoke with Actually Understood the Texas law they were fighting against
If you’ve ever been to an intense rally or even a concert, you know this type of “push to the front” environment can become quite intimate. One minute you’re standing around excitedly counting down the minutes to hear your favorite speaker or band, and the next you’re squished against total strangers and you can tell what brand of laundry detergent they use.
Sometimes, as you wait among the masses, people from opposite sides start talking with each other about their positions. As abortion supporters waited for the next chance to power through, we started chatting. Every single time, I noticed something: none of their talking points were about the actual Texas law that was being heard inside the Supreme Court right then.
One young person I spoke with, who took a bus from North Carolina, went on and on about how women should have the “right to choose”. Our conversation continued for a while and was completely focused on whether abortion was right or wrong. I tried several times to bring up the safety standards of the Texas law, but it never mattered. He never cared about women’s safety and spoke as if this law was abolishing abortion entirely.
For a while I was linked arm-in-arm with Kellie Gretschel from San Antonio Coalition for Life. She challenged those from the other side the whole time. There were more conversations than I have time to write now, but it went a little something like this:
KG: (referring to the student’s sign) What does the ACLU think about HB2 [the Texas law]?
Student: Oh, I don’t know exactly. I’m just holding the sign.
KG: Which of the fourth provisions do you disagree with?
Student: I’m not really sure what they are.
*Kellie explained each one*
Student: Well, I just really think women have a right to their bodies.
You all are getting this, right? The Texas law is NOT about taking away abortion access in any way. If abortion facilities close, it is of their own doing for not meeting safety standards. This is about protecting women from complications during an invasive surgery. It is about improving their access to health care accommodations that would need to be made in the event something terrible happens during the surgery. Would you want your dentist to remain open and operating without these exact same common sense safety standards?
5 – The Pro-Life Gen was OUT in FULL FORCE!
OK – this one, you probably noticed. How could you miss it?
The amazing, courageous, and determined pro-life student warriors of our Capital Region came out in a BIG way and I’ve never been more proud of them!
It was the largest number of students we’ve ever mobilized to a rally in D.C. on a school day. (Well, aside from the national March for Life, of course!)
Students drove several miles, traveled through the night, slept on the floor, and put out their own money to join us Wednesday. A good portion of them arrived as early as 6AM to start holding our banner as a wall of protection for hours before everything started just to secure a space for the rally.
That’s right. Teenagers and college students woke up at 5AM to sacrifice their day standing in the cold holding their ground in front of the Supreme Court steps. Abortion advocates were there just as early unloading their buses by the dozens and surrounding the space we hadn’t already taken. I would go so far as to say: there may not have even been space to hold our rally if not for those dedicated students.
Students holding banners.
Students holding signs.
Students linking arms and standing strong.
Students cheering “WE ARE THE PRO-LIFE GENERATION!”
Without these young leaders, all you had left was a stage, some would-be disappointed speakers, maybe 10-20 adults, and a box of signs.