Protest pro-abortion events
Abortion fundraisers and celebrations are important occasions to publicly stand in defense of unborn children. These events give pro-lifers the opportunity to:
Demoralize extreme pro-abortion attendees by putting their unsavory views in the spotlight.
Educate the event staff, passersby, and any undecided attendees (who may be there only because they were invited by friends) about abortion.
Counter the pro-abortion narrative that would otherwise be unchallenged in media coverage of the event.
Common pro-abortion events include “Women’s Marches,” fundraisers for Planned Parenthood, and fundraisers or campaign events for pro-abortion politicians.
Finding upcoming pro-abortion events
You can find out about upcoming Women’s Marches by going to the Women’s March organization website or by simply Googling your town or community’s name and “women’s march.” Many pro-abortion events get free advertising in the form of news stories. The Women’s March started in response to the 2016 election of President Donald Trump and its events are often scheduled in response to national news concerning abortion laws or in conjunction with the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade in January.
The seven Planned Parenthood affiliates in California each have two arms: the 501c3 organization that runs the abortion clinics and the political organization that lobbies for pro-abortion politicians and legislation. You can find out about their events by visiting each website and signing up for email updates. Planned Parenthoods also have social media pages you can check for upcoming events.
Most Planned Parenthood affiliates have one large annual fundraiser, typically a banquet, as well as several smaller fundraising events, such as trivia nights, movie screenings, or happy hours throughout the year.
Sign up for updates from your local pro-abortion politicians and follow them on social media. A politician’s explicitly pro-abortion events will usually be done in partnership with Planned Parenthood or a Women’s March. If a politician is running for higher office or is in a tight election race, watch for any public events, such as debates or rallies, where you can call attention to his extreme views.
Research the event details
How many guests are expected at the event? Is it a ticketed event or is it free? Is the event location inside or outdoors? How close is the event location to public property?
Different types of protests work better for different events and some events may not be worth protesting at all. Before you recruit volunteers, decide what sort of protest will be most effective.
Will most guests drive onto the hotel property to park or will they walk past you on the sidewalk? Some guests will arrive via rideshare - where will they be dropped off?
For Planned Parenthood’s big annual banquet, usually held at a hotel, it’s best to have a large pro-life presence to greet the guests as they arrive. Visit the event venue or at least research it on Google street view to figure out where your volunteers can legally stand on public property and where they will be most visible to the arriving guests.
Is there a danger of getting mobbed and injured by abortion supporters? Will the pro-abortion group be so large and the event so volatile that law enforcement might decline to defend your right to free speech?
If the pro-abort event is a rally or march, be sure to take the physical safety of your volunteers into consideration. We at California Right to Life have counter-protested many large pro-abortion rallies and marches with just a handful of volunteers and usually have no safety issues, but occasionally someone will get aggressive and try to steal a sign or other equipment. On the other hand, our presence usually leads to great conversations with the pro-abort participants (who may have never before talked to a pro-life person about abortion) and to some media coverage for the pro-life side. Avoid recruiting volunteers who might lose their temper if harassed by obnoxious pro-abortion participants.
Plan your protest
If you’ve decided a public protest is the best way to counter the pro-abortion event, decide when and how long you want your protest to be. For example, for a Planned Parenthood banquet, it is good to arrive 30-45 minutes before the event start time to give your volunteers time to park, greet each other, hear the game plan, and be in place before most of the guests start arriving, usually 15-20 minutes before the event’s scheduled start time. But, at the other end of the event, there is no need to stay after all the guests have entered the event and can no longer see your message.
Plan where volunteers will stand, what type of signs they will hold, and who the intended audience is for each volunteer or group of volunteers.
Are they displaying the signs for passing drivers, for drivers and passengers entering the event, or for pedestrians? Will anyone be distributing fliers or information about abortion, Planned Parenthood, or why you are protesting the event? Will you display photos of aborted babies?
The most readable signs have just a few words (no more than three lines of text, two is better) and are CLEARLY printed in highly contrasting colors, for example, black on white. Signs with short phrases like “STOP ABORTION NOW” and “ABORTION KILLS CHILDREN” are preferable to longer phrases that are difficult to read. Large photos of aborted babies force abortion supporters to see the faces of their victims.
For large printed signs, you can find large pieces of cardboard available for free at big box stores, like Costco, and poster paint at Wal-Mart or craft stores. You can also have handheld-size signs printed at office supply stores like Office Depot.
You can buy signs with photos of aborted babies from Created Equal.
If you plan to distribute literature, you can download and print fliers about Planned Parenthood here, fliers about abortion here, order literature from Human Life Alliance.
During your protest
Arrive early to greet your volunteers and be ready for any unexpected circumstances that may necessitate changing your protest plan. Planned Parenthood might have its guests use a back entrance, and you’ll need to move your volunteers to the other side of the block, for example. Sometimes the surprises can be in your favor: once we arrived at a Planned Parenthood fundraiser and discovered that the guests were being directed to park remotely and ride a shuttle to the venue, so we deployed some volunteers to talk to guests waiting at the shuttle stop.
Remember, even though it’s easier if you have more people, you don’t need a lot of volunteers to successfully speak on behalf of the victims at a pro-abortion event. Three or four people are enough to have a successful counter protest.
Note: Be ready to film the interaction if any guests or passersby become aggressive, and do not hesitate to call the police if you are threatened. Read more here about how to respond if someone calls the police on your protest.
When a traditional protest isn’t possible
Is the event location difficult to protest, with no sidewalk, no lighting, or no way to stand reasonably close to where guests will enter? Is it a very small event or being held at a time when it would be difficult to recruit volunteers?
Sometimes a traditional protest isn’t practical. Then it’s time to get creative: send a letter to the event venue before the event asking them to cancel; leaflet guests’ cars parked on public property while the event is underway (you can use this flier for Planned Parenthood supporters or this flier about abortion in general); attend events open to the public and ask fellow attendees lots of questions and/or discreetly leave pro-life literature throughout the venue; write a letter to the editor calling attention to the restaurant or business hosting the event; etc.