Today history was made at Hope Women’s Centers as we became the target of an organized protest. From 11am-1pm today, a small crowd gathered outside our new Ft. Lauderdale Clinic with signs, bullhorns, and false accusations. Our Center Director faced them with calmness, with grace, and extended kindness to them – even offering bottles of water. When she left the reception room to get the water, they ducked out the door. No conversation.
Later in the day, we found these photos online and as I looked at them, I was overcome by a sense of profound sadness. I often think of “protesters” as young, misguided youth who are passionate about their causes, and haven’t lived long enough to learn that they don’t have all the answers to life’s problems.
But these were mature women (and a couple men who didn’t seem to be very engaged in the process.) These women were angry. They were unmistakably dedicated to their cause. They were standing out in the south Florida sun in the middle of the day. They are old enough to know that they don’t have all the answers. Sadder still, is the fact that they aren’t willing to engage in a civil conversation to get to the truth…to learn about who we are, what we do, and why we do it. They have jumped on the ExposeFakeClinics bandwagon, labeled us, and broken out the protest signs, without really knowing us.
Here’s the rub: there are Fake Clinics out there. They have an “ends justifies the means” mentality and they are not tied to national organizations who hold them to any standard of accountability. They are baby-focused, not woman-focused, and they prey on fears and flawed medical information. Hope Women’s Centers is proud to be affiliated with national organizations like Care Net, Heartbeat, and NIFLA who hold their medical clinics to a stated Commitment of Care agreement.
Today was a very sad day for me. My heart goes out to these women, and others like them, who feel so threatened by medical clinics like ours who exist to encourage and equip women and men to make informed decisions about their unplanned pregnancies.
To close, I must say that my first protest experience was much better than I had imagined, and God showed up for us. He provided a woman with a sticky note to tell us the Facebook page where the protest was posted. He gave us a way to meet the other tenants in the building that we hadn’t imagined, and He gave us an idea for a great way to meet all of them tomorrow when we take cookies to all of their offices to apologize for the commotion today! We will offer them an opportunity to come in, visit the center, and find out who we really are. #OurGodIsAwesome
About the Author: Nancy McDonald served as a board member of Hope Women’s Centers for 10 years until she joined the staff in 2000. Today she serves as the organization’s President/CEO and is more passionate than ever about helping women and men make informed decisions regarding unplanned pregnancies.
All photos (including featured photo) taken from Facebook page VagiNAtion: