By Terrisa Bukovinac, Pro-Life Future-San Francisco
This past Monday night in San Francisco, Cecile Richards, CEO of Planned Parenthood, delivered a speech entitled “The Future of Choice.” Pro-Life Future of San Francisco (PLFSF) was on the scene that very cold night to protest and I didn’t know what to expect. Mostly I pictured a long line of people waiting to get in while they shouted at us but that’s not what happened and turned out to be one of many surprises of the night.
Just in case, I had prepared a couple hundred copies of just one of the contracts between Stem Express and Planned Parenthood, specifically the Marmonte location (on pink paper), in the hopes that it would land in the lap of the Medical Director whose signature was highlighted on the agreement!
Upon arrival, it was apparent that there was not a line at all, simply people entering and leaving the building. There were about 15 of us already there, including several members of our chapter, as well as a Students For Life group from Southern California, and members of the community.
SFLA’s West Coast Regional Coordinator Camille Rodriguez was already engaged in a very intense conversation with some of the attendees. I was later told from the other members that the woman originally approached Camille with agitation, but that the woman was moved to tears by the empathy, understanding, and clarity with which Camille spoke. She wanted to talk more after the speech and said she had never had such a conversation about abortion from “the other side”. They hugged as they said goodbye.
The majority of the crowd was millennial women, and some men. There were some of the older generations there as well, far less then I’d expected. Most of them would walk by the protesters and quietly read the signs as they entered the building.
Members of PLFSF handed out the pink contracts saying “Would you like some information on Planned Parenthood”? Many of them took the pink paper without a second thought. Some refused it. One girl took one and then kindly came back outside and said “I’m sorry I don’t want your propaganda”.
There were also two counter protesters. The two women simply stood on the other side of the entry way holding their signs. The lack of hostility from everyone was almost alarming. Most were very polite. There weren’t any weird tense moments. Just real conversations, and quiet stares.
A woman approached us who immediately let us know that she supported our right to be there, and believed strongly in the right of free speech. She said that she had had “many” abortions, but that allowed her to attend Harvard to study neurology. Learning about brain development in utero made her sometimes question the morality of abortion. She also mentioned concerns about the fetal tissue donation program, and what she felt were the racist intentions behind the founding of the organization. I offered her a copy of the contract and she freely took it.
When the counter protesters decided to leave I said “I appreciate your passion, have a good night”, and one of the women was totally surprised and immediately said “Thank you for saying that, I appreciate yours too!” It was so genuine that it caught me off guard as well! We saw the humanity in each other and didn’t reduce each other to the signs we were holding.
Several of us waited around until the end in order to make the biggest impact we could. The entire crowd was greeted by us once again when they left and there were several other conversations to be had.
Overall I felt like the crowd was able see the person behind the protester. San Franciscans are raised up protesting. Many of them know what it’s like to fight for a cause and it’s much harder for them to dismiss us, since they know the personal sacrifice it takes to get out there in the cold in the hopes of reaching just one person. I’d like to think we reached a few of them.
Thank you to everyone who came out or tweeted along with the live stream. Our efforts combined can turn the tide against the one organization truly exploiting women and unborn children for their own financial gains. #ShutItDown