By Krysta Therieau, Mercer Students for Life
Rapid response, perhaps the most intimidating of the 5 pillars, doesn’t come around for our group every day. But on Monday night, October 15th, our moment arrived. Just a few hours after our Mercer Students for Life meeting, a startling message popped up in our GroupMe. The pro-abortion group on campus was planning a “Rally for Abortion Access” and a table to petition against the Hyde Amendment the next day. In that moment, it wasn’t clear exactly what we should do. But we knew we had to do something. The rally was to be held in front of a local pregnancy resource center, so we immediately began reaching out to people who could notify them. By next morning, all appointments at the pregnancy resource center were rescheduled. Law enforcement had also been called to attend the pro-abortion rally. The only thing left to do was to organize our response.
Tabling Against Hyde
Given the short notice we had, getting a group of students together to respond proved difficult. Regardless of whether or not our members could attend the rally, however, everyone advertised to the best of their ability. Soon the rally was being talked about all over campus. Students who had time between classes made a point to stop by the pro-choice table to try to engage students in dialogue and potentially change some hearts. The pro-choice students at the table were boisterous and assertive. They greeted every passer-by with, “Do you support abortion access?” Students who answered “yes” were asked to sign the petition. When students who answered “no” tried to engage the group in conversation, their questions were not answered. Instead, they were told, “This table is for people who already support abortion,” and they were ordered to leave. Although we were unable to engage in much productive dialogue, several onlookers were able to witness the pro-choice group’s aggressive and obstructive behavior. This prompted several complaints against them to our Student Government Association.
Less than 24 hours after we found out about the pro-abortion rally, we peacefully gathered at the location of a proposed abortion facility. An estimated 50 people were present, including a local newspaper reporter and a local TV news reporter. Meanwhile, outside the pregnancy resource center, an estimated 8 pro-abortion protesters loudly chanted over a loudspeaker. They disturbed businesses nearby and trespassing onto private property. After repeated warnings, the group was escorted off the pregnancy resource center’s property for protesting without a permit. No media were present.
Our rapid response was a huge success, but we could not have done it alone. I cannot emphasize enough how valuable it was to have a relationship with members of the community who were immediately ready to help in any way possible. Because of them, we were able to advertise our counter-rally and even submit a press release to our local paper before noon. Having members who followed the pro-choice group’s social media was also a huge plus as it allowed us to quickly respond to their advertisements.
Even the Apologetics training our Regional Coordinator, Ryan Eyrich, has given us time and time again paid off as it gave us the confidence and training to be able to try and engage with the pro-choice group. Without realizing it, we had already compiled everything we needed to make our rapid response effective. While it felt like we were frantically trying to get everything together to respond to the rally, the reality is we had been preparing for this since our club’s formation. Our rapid response was truly one of the moments for which we were made!