MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin, November 3, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Pro-life sidewalk counselors outside a Milwaukee abortion clinic Thursday morning say that a preteen girl asking pro-lifers for help was forced into the clinic by escorts and a guardian, and that police have responded saying that they could do nothing.
Tobey Neuberger, a sidewalk counselor from Cedarburgh, said the incident occurred just before 10 a.m. outside Affiliated Medical Services, where she and two other female pro-life counselors gave a “very young” African-American girl literature as she entered the clinic, and told her that she could get more information at a pro-life center across the street. Witnesses said the girl looked anywhere between 11 and 14 years old.
Neuberger says she and her companions were “just incredulous” as they watched the girl come back out and ask for help from the counselors, only to be physically blocked by the escort staff.
“Once she said she wanted to go across the street, she [the escort] held up her arm and blocked her, then she put her hand on the kid’s shoulder to stop her,” said Dan Miller, another pro-life sidewalk counselor and witness present at the scene. “The whole group of vigilers were pleading for her to let her go across the street to get free help, and they wouldn’t let her.”
“We could hear her say, ‘please take your hands off me,’” Neuberger, 42, told LifeSiteNews.com. “You could see it in her eyes.” The counselor said that the guardian, who appeared to be her mother, eventually came out of the clinic appearing “very irritated” and “literally pulled her back into the clinic.”
Neuberger said that while they have often seen girls appearing to be forced into the clinic, this situation was different, as the girl had actually asked the counselors to take her across the street. “We’ve seen it before, with the girls going in with red eyes ... you get the eyes glazed over, you can tell. She vocally asked for help,” she said. “It was heartbreaking.”
During the conflict, the group of sidewalk counselors nearest the clinic asked for help from Miller, who was across the street, and who then called the police. But, he says, the operator responded by saying there was nothing to be done, and no officers were dispatched.
“I told her what the situation was, they said, well, there’s nothing we can do, she’s with her parents, so there’s nothing going on here,” Miller told LifeSiteNews.com.
Witnesses said the girl re-emerged after about 90 minutes total in the clinic, but it didn’t appear she had undergone an abortion and she seemed in “good spirits.” Yet they feared she might return after fulfilling Wisconsin’s 24-hour waiting period: Miller said pro-life vigilers, who have been at the clinic around the clock as part of the Fall 40 Days for Life campaign, had apparently not seen the girl enter before.
Miller also noted that the girl’s guardian responded angrily to the pro-life group as the pair left, calling out, “free help my a**.”
A public relations officer at the Milwaukee Police Department was not available to speak with LifeSiteNews.com Thursday afternoon.
Virginia Zignego of Pro-Life Wisconsin noted that pro-lifers’ relationship with police in the area has been strained, and recalled one recent incident in which workers at Affiliated Women’s Heath Center called police to arrest pro-life witness James Marcou for videotaping outside the clinic. The charges were dropped last March.
Miller said that the clinic staff often used police to intimidate pro-lifers, often effectively.
“They [the police] would be used as a show of force by the abortion mill to scatter the pro-lifers, usually they call them when we have large numbers down here,” he said. “We’ve never been given a ticket, but the numbers would diminish afterwards.”