31 Cath. Law. 50 (1987-1988)
Sidewalk Counseling: A First Amendment Right

handle is hein.journals/cathl31 and id is 64 raw text is: SIDEWALK
If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person
were of a contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in si-
lencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified
in silencing mankind.
-John Stuart Mill'
In 1974, a group of Third Order Dominicans began praying the ro-
sary in front of an abortion facility in Santa Rosa, California. While bear-
ing this witness, they discovered that they were very often able to support
women who actually did not want abortions and to persuade others not to
have abortions. From this experience, they formed Catholics United For
Life and developed the concept and term sidewalk counseling, to de-
scribe this special type of communication designed to dissuade particular
mothers from killing their unborn children. Sidewalk counseling is a
more non-confrontational pro-life witness than some picketing or non-vi-
olent direct action sit-ins. The effectiveness of sidewalk counseling in
saving lives, in the words of Catholics United for Life representative,
Theo Stearns, a Dominican Third Order Prioress, is dependent upon
speech and action with charity, love, persistence and prayer. Catholics
United for Life popularized sidewalk counseling through publications,
workshops, and such vehicles as a presentation at the National Right to
Life Conventions. As a result, sidewalk counseling is practiced by many
groups who witness their faith and life at abortion centers across the
The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the right to
freedom of speech. This guarantee would be of limited importance if it
* Director of Legal Services, American Life League; Co-Chairman, Free Speech Advocates.
Sarah Anne Biety, J.D., Creighton Law School, 1985, aided in the research and preparation
of this Article.

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