Mercedes Soto was determined to have an abortion two years ago when she walked up to the Whole Woman’s Health clinic in McAllen, Texas.
But when a sidewalk counselor approached Soto and told her she was valuable, the words changed her.
Soto now is a volunteer sidewalk counselor outside the same abortion clinic where she once considered aborting her son, NPR reports. She said she chose life for her son, 1-year-old Samson, because of the sidewalk counselor’s encouragement.
The 32-year-old told NPR that she had a difficult childhood and never felt loved. She ran away from home when she turned 18, joined a gang and began doing drugs, she said.
“If you would have looked at me in my old life, you wouldn’t have expected anything good,” Soto said. “I was in very very bad steps. I turned to drugs as a coping mechanism. I started hanging out with the wrong crew. I joined a gang. I just wanted to belong. I wanted to belong. And I wanted somebody to be there for me.”
The sidewalk counselor was that somebody. As Soto walked toward the abortion clinic door that day, the sidewalk counselor approached her, according to the report.
“She starts telling me I’m beautiful, and I wasn’t trying to hear this woman,” she remembered. “I wasn’t.”
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The woman’s words made an impact, and Soto chose life for her son. Now, she said she often brings him with her when she stands outside the abortion clinic as a sidewalk counselor.
Sidewalk counselors can make a huge impact on women, just moments before they head inside to make a permanent decision about their unborn child’s life. Many just need encouragement, someone to tell them that they have another choice.
One of the biggest examples of this impact is 40 Days for Life, a spring and fall outreach campaign to reach women outside of abortion clinics across the country. Since 2007, the peaceful, prayerful campaign has reported saving more than 12,600 babies and mothers from abortion.