Should Pro-Choice Supporters Counter-Protest at Abortion Clinics?

Most married couples hit the farmers’ market, go kayaking, or meet up with friends at their favorite brunch spot on Saturdays. Not Tina and Grayson Haver Currin, who instead pack up their car to bring signs down to their local abortion clinic, where they counter-protest anti-choice protesters as they try to harass clinic staff and patients.

They document their activities on Saturday Chores, a site that’s gone viral. But not everyone is pleased with the idea of an abortion counter-protest, and some of their concerns are valid: Does it just feed the trolls, or does it actually make a difference?

With the growing war on women’s rights in the United States, anti-choice protests outside reproductive health clinics are escalating in scope, scale and aggressiveness. That’s been brought home with the recent Supreme Court decision striking down Massachusetts’ buffer zone, which had previously kept anti-choice protesters at a distance. Those seeking reproductive health services, along with the staff who support them, are being forced to run gauntlets of people shoving signs and pamphlets in their faces, screaming at them, and intimidating them — so much so that clinic escorts are now a vital part of the scene at such clinics. These defenders of women’s rights don bright vests and usher people through the crowd to the clinic so they can access care.

The idea of counter-protests comes from the desire to send a clear message to anti-choice protesters: They’re being watched, and the pro-choice community supports the right of women to get treatment for reproductive health conditions. Such protests are also intended as a show of support, to let patients and providers know that they are not alone. Some also argue that their presence distracts anti-choice protesters, making it harder for them to harass patients and staff. They say that like clinic escorts, they’re there to make patients and staff feel safer.

Not everyone is so sure about the benefits, though. Clinic directors point out that terrified women just see a sea of people — not a group of supporters challenging anti-choice protesters. Pro-choice activists and organizers note that some clinics don’t want to exacerbate tensions or create protests that could turn ugly, and thus that they don’t want patients, staff or supporters to engage, even when it’s frustrating. When counter-protesters go against the expressed wish of an abortion clinic, it is disrespectful, and it demonstrates a lack of interest in working with those who provide direct services. Well-meant actions can still be harmful when people don’t want them.

The debate over counter-protesters illustrates the fact that situations like these are rarely simple. In the women’s movement, as in other social movements, numerous individuals and groups with a variety of interests and concerns are coming together, and they sometimes find it difficult to cooperate on common goals.

This is a particular concern with groups that don’t respect those working on the ground doing direct service and other work, as this can spur resentments and frustration.

Photo credit: Taber Andrew Bain.


Jim V
Jim Ven9 months ago


Jerome S
Jerome S9 months ago

thanks for sharing.

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe2 years ago

If a woman wants to have an abortion, these protesters have no business harassing her!! Go home and get out of her face, for Pete's sake!!

Natasha Rodriguez
Natasha R3 years ago

So many pro-choice people here. I'm pro-life, but I would never go as far as protesting in front of a clinic.

Linda McKellar
Past Member 3 years ago

-Getting assaulted at a clinic is in no way related to a football game. Get real. The man was there to cause trouble & acted first. Guilty as charged.
-Every sperm's a good one. Don't you worship the doctrine of Monty Python?
- God is not acting via protestors. There is no god.
- If someone claims there is a divine being, the onus of proof is upon them. I do not claim there is any divine being hence I am not obligated to provide proof. YOU ARE.
- As a nurse, I am fully aware of the stages of development from sperm & egg to living being. A zygote or fertilized ovum is a clump of cells. It has no sensation without a nervous system, no cognition without a brain & no viability. Since this also applies to a sperm or an ovum when you think of it thus, claiming a sperm is potential life (although not yet matched to an ovum) is no more ridiculous than claiming a zygote is alive when taken to the extreme by a loonie tune.
At one time the Catholic church believed a sperm was a complete human implanted for growth in a woman - of course this meant the woman was totally insignificant - except when the offspring was defective or female - then it was the woman's fault. See how dumb religion was back then? It hasn't really progressed much has it? It twists biology & everything else to suit its purpose. A congregate of cells is a living, feeling being - nah!

Janis K.
Janis K3 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

He look Ken, Dan O. found a minor typographical error in your outstanding and well researched and presented post. I guess in his little mind that makes him think he "won" or something?

Dan O., that is about as sad and pathetic as you can get, man.

Catrin K.
Catrin Censored3 years ago

Dan O. "Another thing you might want to consider is that since God is the creator of life being blessed with a child might just be His will for life."

Well Dan O. if your God is so powerful and wants her to be blessed with life why does he/she/it allow the woman then to not want the child ? Please do not respond by saying because God gave human free will . The response "God works in mysterious ways" is not going to cut it either .

As for protesting at clinics performing Vasectomies and at Sperm Banks , thanks but no thanks i do not care what you do with your Penis , it holds no interest to me and it is not my business .

Dan O.
Dan O.3 years ago

Ken O., Did you mean scientifically? Do you ever feel a bit challenged when it comes to spelling?

john james Parr
john Parr3 years ago

Interesting,,, a lot of grey areas...