Last Saturday, August 7th, in our efforts to contribute to National Pro-Life Gen Sidewalk Day, the community of Arizona gathered at three local abortion facilities: Family Planning Associates, Glendale Planned Parenthood, and Tempe Planned Parenthood, to pray, chalk encouraging messages, hold signs, and counsel the women heading inside the doors. What we didn’t expect was for Planned Parenthood volunteers to steal our stuff!
The day prior, Students for Life had hosted its first-ever Standing With You retreat to train and educate students and community members on the importance of sidewalk advocacy, support after abortion, and campus pro-life outreach.
During the retreat, we shared fellowship together while being trained by professionals in the anti-abortion movement on how to help abortion-minded women find the support they need to choose life for their babies and help those wounded by abortion to find peace and healing. While there, we made blessing bags (small bags full of pregnancy help resources) in preparation for sidewalk day and were so excited and happy to hopefully be able to offer them, along with support and comfort, to the women we would meet the next day.
The Tempe Planned Parenthood was open early the next morning, and abortion escorts with colorful, striped umbrellas stood outside the doors waiting for cars to pull into the parking lot so they could walk up to the people getting out and make sure they couldn’t see the pregnancy center next door.
I took a handful of blessing bags with me to the entrance of Aid to Women Center but, seeing it was locked and that no one was there, I knew I should make sure that at least two members of my group stood outside the entrance to pass out the bags together. I left the bags by a pillar and went back for the rest of them, and for two volunteers.
We stood and prayed and chalked together as a group, and then three of us headed back to the Aid to Women Center door. As we neared the entrance, I noticed immediately that the bags I had left were gone. I called out to the Planned Parenthood escorts if they had seen anyone take the bags, or if they happened to know where they were, but they ignored me. Then a friend of mine approached them and asked the same, but they looked at her and said they didn’t know anything about it.
We then noticed that Aid to Women Center had outdoor surveillance cameras, and so I notified Anne Dennis, a good friend of mine and their director of community outreach, to let her know what had happened and to check if the cameras found any footage of the items being stolen. They did; people in colorful vests, coming from the direction of the Planned Parenthood, were seen on-camera taking the bags and using a red van to block the view from onlookers by the street.
The Tempe police were called immediately and now I am waiting to hear more about the incident and what will be done.