“Our motto is ‘We hear you’, we want to help both the mother and the unborn”
A newspaper report accuses an evangelical entity of harassing women when they go to abortion clinics. They deny it: “We respect people and if they don't want to talk, we don't insist”.
Protestante Digital, El País · MADRID · 05 MARCH 2020 · 10:22 CET
On the street, near the entrance of an abortion clinic in Madrid, several pro-life associations give information and talk with those who enter or leave the clinic.
According to a report published in the Spanish newspaper El País, these women are “harassed” or “insulted” on their way to the clinic.
El País bases its report on a study of the Association of Accredited Clinics for Pregnancy Interruption (ACAI), a group of clinics located in 18 Spanish cities. These centres practice abortions and other services to around 120,000 women each year in Spain.
The survey, which interviewed 300 women, reveals that 89% declared some form of harassment; 67% felt threatened during medical processes, but an alleged 100% of the women approached maintained their decision to abort.
Following this report and its publication, the Ombudsman asked the Spanish Ministry of Interior to guarantee the privacy and free movement of women who go to an abortion clinic, and to protect their “physical and moral integrity”.
According to the Ombudsman, “concrete preventive measures must be taken, without prejudice to respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of other citizens”.
“WE ARE HERE TO OFFER HELP”
Sifra is one of the entities that is mentioned in the El País article. This group defines itself on its website as “an association formed by evangelical Christians, who are convinced that the Bible urges us to defend life, but also that each person is free to choose their path”.
Their “main conviction is that every woman in pregnancy crisis needs space and information to make her own decision, so that she can live with a clear conscience, based on her own core values”, they add.
Members of Sifra carry out their informative work in Madrid, Mallorca and Valencia, and consider that the El País report is an incorrect representation of its work.
“For two years we have been going to this place periodically, and we spend about an hour there. We try to talk with women or couples who are entering or leaving the clinic”, Alison Barrett, a member of Sifra, told Spanish news website Protestante Digital.
According to Barret, “our intention is to offer help. We respect people and if they don't want to talk, we don't insist. When we see that it is possible to greet them, we introduce ourselves with our names and start the conversation saying that we know it can be a difficult time, and we are there to help them”.
If people don't want to talk, they offer a brochure from Sifra, which does not have any image that could be considered aggressive: no ultrasound, no aborted fetuses, no accusatory messages, just a sentence: “We listen to you”.
Sifra also offers accompaniment to women who have aborted. “We give them a card that says that if they want to talk to someone in the next few days, we are at their disposal”, Alison Barret explained.
The association regrets the biased portrait of its work, but they admit that other entities do use more aggressive strategies.
“It is true that there are other entities that seem more aggressive in their attitude. We have not liked their brochures, because they include very bloody photos, with images of aborted babies. I understand that if I were a woman, it would be violent for me to have that brochure in my hands”, Barret said.
She stressed that they “do not identify with these aggressive forms. We don't work with them, we keep a distance”.
Additionally, “we don't talk badly about the clinic to women. What we want is to be close to them. We do not insult, nor carry banners or materials of any kind against the clinic”.
“WE SOW SEEDS AND ENTRUST OUR WORK TO GOD”
“We sow seeds and entrust our work to God. One of the things we could do was to accompany a young girl who was going to have an abortion because her mother threatened to throw her out of the house if she had the baby. We have helped her since then, supporting her and finding her a place to stay. We have been able to pray with other women too and have very positive conversations”.
Sifra is worried about the effect the media report may have on their work. “Our purpose is to help the unborn and the mother. We do not have an aggressive or violent way of acting, but we understand that women have crises in their lives and those are very difficult times”, Barret underlined.
“We believe that abortion negatively affects women, so we work in support of the women and the unborn. We also give courses to prepare people to be counselors, so that they cand listen to and advise women who are in a crisis and need counseling”, she concluded.