Almost one year ago, a small group of people decided to do sidewalk counseling in front of the Vancouver General Hospital Surgical Day Care Centre, where thousands of abortions are performed every year.

Wearing hand-made signs with photographs of unborn children and with messages such as “Stand Up for Your Unborn Child”; “Pregnant-Need Help?”; etc., these sidewalk counselors walk back and forth in front of the clinic, offering pro-life literature to all who walk by or enter the building, including hospital personnel.

Each sidewalk counselor is armed with a package containing information on the development of the unborn child, statistics on abortion, and material on sidewalk counseling, including the pamphlet “The Best Way to Save Babies.”

The package also contains a pamphlet which provides information on pro-life educational groups, reference materials and pregnancy aid.

The women that come to the clinic vary in age and education. They often have a boyfriend, husband, girlfriend or even their own parents accompanying them. Many are hostile, emotional or confused.

One counselor relates the story of a timid 16 year old girl who arrived for the scheduled abortion of her four-month old child. Her boyfriend, trying to rationalize the abortion, later shared her sorrow in realizing that his child had been killed.

Apparently the girl’s parents encouraged her to have an abortion against her better judgment.

Other disturbing encounters include a 17 year old girl who arrived for an abortion arranged by her school counselor.

Yet another girl, who looked about 13 years old, left the clinic clutching her jacket in her arms like a teddy bear. She was crying.

It is the belief of the sidewalk counselors that their work is crucial to the pro-life cause. It represents the last attempt to dissuade a woman from having an abortion.

One sidewalk counselor and her family have made their home a “Bethany Home”- a home that serves Jesus as a place of temporary retreat for anyone in need of shelter and rest. This home provides support for women, married or single, facing the pressures and temptations of abortion as the only solution to a problem pregnancy.

One young woman credits the  Bethany Home with giving her a much-needed “space” to deal with her pregnancy in a safe haven. Moreover, she is grateful to the family for reaffirming the correctness of her decision to welcome her baby into the world and for planting the seeds through prayer for her reconciliation with God, the Church and her family.

Each Sunday evening some of the sidewalk counselors meet in their Bethany Home to recite the Rosary and pray the Divine Office, for the intentions of the pro-life movement. By praying the Rosary, some of the sidewalk counselors feel they can better maintain a loving and peaceful presence in front of the clinic.

Spiritual fortitude is necessary when hospital security guards are called to question or warn sidewalk counselors. Occasionally hospital security employees try to intimidate the counselors by standing guard in front of the clinic or by taking photographs of the sidewalk counselors.

It appears that at least three babies and their mothers have been saved by sidewalk counseling in Vancouver.

Anyone who is interested by joining the Vancouver Group (presently composed of 15 counselors) can leave his/her name with the Vancouver Right to Life Office, No. 9 -2775 W. Broadway, Vancouver, B.C. V6K 2G5 (604) 733 6266