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Pro-life individuals, groups in the Triangle offer alternatives to clinics

JT, one of the protesters outside of Planned Parenthood in Chapel Hill on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2022, poses with his sign to promote 40 Days for Life. 40 Days for Life is a worldwide campaign running from Sept. 28, 2022, to Nov. 6, 2022, to help save lives by praying for an end to abortion.

JT Klimek has gone to the Planned Parenthood Chapel Hill Health Center almost every Saturday since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24. 

Klimek is one of the handful of other pro-life individuals who were at the center on Saturday morning, although there have often been dozens of people there in the past. Some have even spent their Saturday mornings standing outside abortion clinics for years.  

Klimek said his main goal when visiting Planned Parenthood is to talk with people seeking abortions and provide them with information and resources available in the area that could help them in their pregnancy. 

He and other pro-life individuals point people seeking abortions to crisis pregnancy centers such as Gateway Women's Care, which has locations in Chapel Hill, Raleigh and Durham. According to its website, Gateway provides pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, STI testing and "options counseling." 

However, pro-choice organizations like Pro-Choice North Carolina state that crisis pregnancy centers often use misleading advertisements and medically inaccurate information to attract patients. 

Lydia Taylor, president of Campbell Students For Life at Campbell University, has also stood outside the Planned Parenthood clinic in Chapel Hill to speak with those seeking abortions.

"Both my organization and I go to abortion clinics to provide pregnancy resources to women seeking abortion and inform them of how abortion will only hurt them and their baby," she said. 

Chelsea Smith, a graduate student at UNC, is president and a founder of Pro Life Future of the Triangle, an organization that caters to young adults in the area who want to be involved in pro-life activities. 

She said when her organization speaks with people on the sidewalk of the Chapel Hill Planned Parenthood, they promote and represent Standing With You, a national database that includes pregnancy resources alongside information about food banks and shelters. 

"(Standing With You) is kind of just like a place to gather all of these resources in one place," Smith said. "So when we're on the sidewalk, we're representing them and we're trying to get the word out about all these different resources."

According to an email statement from UNC Students for Life, the group has also stood outside the Chapel Hill Planned Parenthood. 

Klimek said many people who faced unplanned pregnancies do not have support systems in their lives and may not be aware of options besides abortion, which is why he wants to let them know of available support. 

"Maybe they don't have someone they can talk to, maybe they don't have the best relationship with their intimate partner," he said. "Sometimes they face pressure to get rid of the baby and want to stay in that relationship. And they come to abortion clinics because they feel like there's no other place."

Klimek also said while people are not allowed to stand on the premises of Planned Parenthood, they will stand close to the road and try to flag down cars as they pull in. 

He said the goal is not to pressure those seeking services at Planned Parenthood to speak with members of his group if they have made it clear they are not interested.

Taylor said that while there is a common misconception that pro-life groups go to abortion clinics to condemn or yell at those seeking the services, this is not her intention.

She added that she and her organization have received mixed responses to their presence at the clinic. 

"Many people at the clinics are receptive and talk to us, and many women do end up choosing life and allowing us to help them," she said. "However, we also get harassed, threatened and bullied for what we do." 

UNC Students for Life said the group has experienced hostility while outside Planned Parenthood, but it has also encountered people who are open to speaking with them. 

"We have had conversations with several women, and while we do not know the outcome of the majority of these conversations, a couple of women have left the clinic without going inside for their appointment," the organization said in an email.

Klimek said that no matter the response from those seeking abortions, he is always glad for the opportunity to speak with people who are willing. 

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