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Pro-lifers: If you're going to pray outside clinics, be prepared to defend yourselves

Conservative Review

It's a dangerous world out there, and you should always have a plan to defend yourself, especially if you plan to go pray outside an abortion clinic.

There's been a slew of recent news stories about violence, harassment, and intimidation against pro-life demonstrators and people simply praying outside abortion clinics. Yes, the big news has been about Democratic Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Sims' despicable behavior toward an elderly pro-life woman praying the rosary outside a Planned Parenthood clinic, but there's a lot more out there.

In case you missed them, here are a few headlines:

The takeaway message from all this is pretty straightforward: If you're going to go out and offer a public, pro-life witness of any kind, you need to have a plan to keep yourself safe. It's a sad reality, but it's a reality nonetheless. There are people out there whose extreme beliefs and hatred make them more than willing to use intimidation and violence against peaceful pro-life demonstrators. So pro-lifers should be prepared to protect themselves.

Everyone has a right to self-defense. Period. Use it.

And before anyone makes an assumption and tries to run with the "conservative advocates carrying guns to abortion clinics" headlines, self-defense doesn't necessarily mean concealed carry. If that's your preferred means of self-defense, great. Just make sure to follow all applicable laws and legal precedents, especially those regarding reasonable use of force in self-defense.

However, some jurisdictions won't let permit holders carry at planned demonstrations, and many of the liberal, urban areas that abortion mills tend to target are notoriously anti-gun. Plus, it never hurts to keep a less-than-lethal means of self-defense around as a rule.

There are a lot of options for less-than-lethal self-defense out there: Pepper spray, pepper guns, telescoping batons, stun guns, self-defense keychains, tactical pens, the list goes on and on.

Whichever means best works for you and your fellow pro-lifers, just make sure that you're compliant with state and local laws in how you purchase, transport, carry and use it (hopefully never).

If none of that works for you, there's usually a good self-defense class to be found locally.

If nothing else, please just remember that there's safety in numbers and that the buddy system isn't just for grade school field trips. Take a friend or several. You'll be making your public witness even stronger, and the presence of more people serves as a further deterrent to would-be assailants.

Unfortunately, civil discourse at this stage of American history has become anything but civil; that much is clear. We should all strive to do the upstream, person-to-person work to correct that, but there's nothing wrong with defending yourself in the meantime.

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