Pro-Life Action League, a Chicago-based group that works to end abortion, is bringing a holiday message to the women who have scheduled appointments at Planned Parenthood clinics this weekend. The group is holding its 11th annual “Empty Manger Christmas Caroling Day” on Saturday, during which they’ll visit multiple women’s health clinics in the Windy City to try to dissuade patients from having an abortion.
In a press release about the upcoming event, the group poses a question to the Chicago-area women visiting abortion clinics: “Would Planned Parenthood Have Aborted Jesus?” The activists will sing Christmas carols around an empty manger at five different health clinics, including four that are not actually Planned Parenthood locations.
“What would Christmas be without the Baby Jesus? What will Christmas be like this year in all those homes with missing babies?” Pro-Life Action League’s press release explains. “It is with the hope that songs such as ‘What Child is This?’ and ‘Away in a Manger’ will touch the mothers arriving at these clinics intending to abort their babies.”
Empty Manger events are becoming an increasingly common anti-choice tactic around the Christmas holiday. Abortion opponents in Michigan, Missouri, Indiana, Wisconsin, Texas, and Pennsylvania have held them over the past several years. When the Pro-Life Action Fund conducts its caroling tour, the biggest crowds typically show up for the stop at the Planned Parenthood clinic. As the Huffington Post points out, Planned Parenthood of Illinois provides a wide range of reproductive health services — including pap tests, contraceptives, and breast cancer screenings — to more than 65,000 patients each year.
Even outside of the holiday season, anti-choice harassment outside of abortion clinics is a big issue for patients who are often publicly shamed for their decision to seek out reproductive care. Low-income women typically face the highest levels of harassment because they’re more likely to schedule an abortion appointment on a Saturday, the peak time for protests. Some women end up skipping their appointments because they’re afraid of encountering persistent protesters.
Some cities are beginning to enact buffer zones around women’s health clinics to protect patients from this type of harassment, although that’s a policy that may not be allowed to continue. The issue is slated to go up before the Supreme Court next year. If the justices rule that buffer zones are an infringement on anti-choice protesters’ First Amendment rights, women should expect more empty mangers.
“We believe sidewalk counseling is the most important pro-life work God has given us to do,” Pro-Life Action League’s explains on its website. “Praying outside abortion clinics is the first step in becoming directly involved fighting abortion.”