Planned Parenthood's Non-Engagement Policy
This article originally appeared in this issue of the WSR: 2019-05-15

Most of you have probably heard of the major media event last week when a Planned Parenthood escort, who is also an elected Pennsylvania state representative, was seen in videos on social media bullying teen girls and an older woman. The videos clearly show that all these people were doing was praying on public property outside a Planned Parenthood facility. The videos show Rep. Brian Sims verbally harassing these peaceful, prayerful women and even offering a reward if someone on social media would give him their names and addresses.

One of the things that came out of all the attention on these incidents was a discussion of Planned Parenthood’s “non-engagement” policy. TheAtlantic.com website actually ran an article titled What Happens When an Activist Bullies Anti-abortion Protesters. It contains the following paragraph:           

“From a distance, protests and counter protests look the same to a patient who’s just coming in to get health care,” says Erica Sackin, the senior director of communications for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Planned Parenthood, the No. 1 provider of abortion services in America, is a top target for anti-abortion protesters, yet it has a ‘nonengagement’ policy. “Though well intentioned, counter protests can inadvertently deter patients from getting the care they need,” Sackin says.

Although Sims never apologized to the teens and older women he bullied, he did feel compelled to give a nod to Planned Parenthood’s policy. “As a Planned Parenthood volunteer, and as a supporter, I fully understand, respect and appreciate the non-engagement policy they have . . .” he said.

Many pro-lifers who have not, yet, been active in bringing the love of Jesus to the streets in front of a Planned Parenthood facility worry about what will happen if they go. Although there is no predicting the actions of some lone person who has possibly been affected by the rhetoric of Planned Parenthood and others, like Rep. Sims, and sees violence as an acceptable response to those who are praying, the official Planned Parenthood position is not to engage you.

Planned Parenthood knows that your presence is effective in changing the minds and hearts of women coming in to its facilities. It also knows that your presence contributes to the high turnover of its staff. Those who work in the abortion industry can be reached by individuals who take the time to reach out as one person to another and treat them as people created in the image and likeness of God.

Decades ago, Planned Parenthood would try to intimidate those praying outside its facilities. But it has learned this does not work. Now, it tells its workers, volunteers, and supporters not to engage the prayer warriors.