It has been shown that when there is a peaceful presence in front of abortion facilities, the cancellation rate can go as high as 75%. A key component of this presence are the sidewalk advocates who can lead abortion-minded women to Pro-Life pregnancy resource centers.
While there is a regular presence of the faithful at the three primary abortion facilities in the Diocese of Venice, there is a need for more sidewalk advocates who offer a peaceful, prayerful, law-abiding way to approach and counsel those seeking abortions.
St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers hosted a training session provided by Sidewalk Advocates for Life Founder, President & CEO Lauren Muzyka, on Oct. 28, 2023.
Muzyka helped the more than 60 gathered, which included a group of Ave Maria University students as well as representatives from more than two dozen Parishes, to learn how to help abortion-bound women and men choose life.
Using a simple 5-point method, the advocates were trained to ask a simple question: “What brings you here today?” And that same advocate was provided with a toolbox full of responses to draw from, depending on the women’s response.
Such tools include a wave and a warm smile and greeting, a gift bag with literature on life-affirming resources, and the straightforward mission to guide others to pregnancy help organizations in their community, ultimately empowering the women to leave and choose life.
Muzyka said the fallback position in any encounter is to focus on Mom-Baby-God, with the Holy Spirit as the trump card. This places the encounter in God’s hands.
“We are here to provide a framework that helps start a conversation and plant seeds for choosing life — and those seeds have borne fruit more than 20,000 times that we know of,” she added. “God is going to use you as you are; that the training is there to help you as you uniquely offer this help and hope to women in crisis.”
The timing of the training is important as Sidewalk Advocates for Life had been active in Naples prior to the global pandemic but participation has fallen in the past three years. The group was less active while the Naples Planned Parenthood temporarily stopped offering surgical abortions, with some transferring their efforts to the Fort Myers Planned Parenthood. However, the Naples facility is scheduled to resume surgical abortions, and advocates want to return to Naples, but at the same time do not want to abandon the Fort Myers location. This training is expected to help bolster the numbers of advocates at both locations and even in Sarasota where the regional headquarters of Planned Parenthood exists.
The sidewalk advocate training was hosted by St. John XXIII Parish and supported by the Diocese of Venice Respect Life Office.
If you would like to learn more about Diocese of Venice Respect Life opportunities, visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/offices-departments/respect-life/, or contact Jeanne Berdeaux at 941-484-9543 or Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org.