What happened when abortion protesters went too far?

Anti-abortion protestors with signs we're prepared to republish

Todd Stave has no problem with the abortion protestors outside the family planning clinic building he owns.

It’s their right to free speech, he says, and ‘what better place’ than right out front?

But his  courtesy ends when protesters target his private life to harass him and his family. When they turned up in large numbers at his daughter’s first day of school with posters and placards of bloody fetuses complete with his phone number, he took action. How would the protestors like their own medicine?

“What parent wants to have that conversation with an 11-year-old on the first day of school?” he fumed.

Soon after that, the harassing calls started coming to his home. By the dozens, at all hours. Friends asked him how they could help. He began to take down the names and phone numbers of people who made unwanted calls. And he gave the information to his friends and asked them to call these folks back.

Todd Stave, founder Voice of Choice

“In a very calm, very respectful voice, they said that the Stave family thanks you for your prayers,” he said. “They cannot terminate the lease, and they do not want to. They support women’s rights.”

This started with a dozen or so friends, and then it grew. Soon, more than a thousand volunteers were dialing.

If they could find the information, Stave’s supporters would ask during the callbacks how the children in the family were doing and mention their names and the names of their schools. “And then,” Stave said, “we’d tell them that we bless their home on such and such street,” giving the address.

The family of a protester who called Stave’s home could get up to 5,000 calls in return.

“We gave them back what they gave us,” he said. Do unto others, and so forth. The supporters and volunteers came so fast and in such big numbers, Stave founded a group, Voice of Choice.

And now there are about 3,000 volunteers ready to make calm, reasoned calls to the homes of people who bombard doctors, landlords and their families with protests at homes or schools across the country.

Stave clearly enjoys turning the tables after decades of not fighting back.

“What? They don’t want unsolicited calls to their homes?” he asked.

Brilliant. As Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak, who witnessed abortion protesters pour into the playground of her own child’s preschool, putting stickers on the jackets and fliers into the hands of 4-year-olds before the police were called to get them out, writes:

People who want to stop abortion can make a difference with education, counseling and genuine efforts to prevent unwanted pregnancies and support child-rearing.

They need to work toward safe and affordable day care and health care for children and toward generous workplace policies, including adequate family leave, so that parenthood is not an onerous and difficult prospect in America.

Now there’s a constructive, positive idea. Unlike harassing people.

Would you have – could you have – done the same? Have you heard other responses to conflict that made you smile?

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