Massachusetts sidewalk counselor Eleanor McCullen’s gentle testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday refuted the lies that pro-life advocates are “hostile, noisy and in your face” outside abortion facilities.
That description, used in a brief U.S. Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson joined when she represented pro-abortion groups in a case challenging pro-life sidewalk counselor’s free speech, appeared ridiculous when contrasted with McCullen’s grandmotherly warmth and compassion.
On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from McCullen and others about Jackson’s possible confirmation to the high court. Pro-life leaders and Republicans have raised many concerns about Jackson’s record as a lawyer and federal judge.
For example, in 2001, Jackson co-authored an amicus brief supporting a Massachusetts law that created a “buffer zone” to prevent pro-life sidewalk counselors like McCullen from approaching women outside of abortion facilities. Her clients included NARAL and the Abortion Access Project of Massachusetts.
U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, questioned Jackson about the case Tuesday.
“You made your views on pro-life and the pro-life movement very clear,” Blackburn said. “And in fact, you attacked pro-life women. And this was in a brief that you wrote. You described them, and I’m quoting, ‘Hostile, noisy crowd of in-your-face protesters.’ … How do you justify that incendiary rhetoric against pro-life women?”
It’s a powerful moment when a woman looks at me and our eyes connect, and she stops to talk. It’s in that moment I promise her she will never walk her journey alone.
— Susan B. Anthony List #ModernizeOurLaw (@SBAList) March 24, 2022
On Wednesday, North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis questioned Jackson again about the case, asking why she supported a brief blasting pro-lifers like McCullen as “hostile” and “noisy.”
McCullen, in her testimony Thursday, said pro-life sidewalk counselors do not shout or get hostile because it would be counterproductive to their mission. It was she who challenged the Massachusetts 35-foot buffer zone law, which the Supreme Court later struck down in a unanimous ruling.
“[Jackson] and her colleagues maligned pro-life sidewalk counselors, characterizing us in ugly and false ways,” McCullen said. “… Indeed, the entire reason I challenged the ‘buffer zone’ law was because I did not want to shout from a distance or come across as insensitive or compassion-less to the women and families I serve with love.”
McCullen said she always smiles as women approach her outside the abortion facility, offering to assist them and listening to their fears. She told the Senate committee that pro-life sidewalk counselors help pregnant mothers find medical care and financial aid, throw baby showers and make themselves available at all hours of the day to listen and encourage.
“I’ve helped pay for their education and even their children’s education,” she continued. “I support women and their families long after their babies are born. For me, it’s a joy to be able to offer women hope, love, kindness and support no matter what time of day or night they might call and need me.”
Watching these women overcome and thrive and their babies grow up has been one of the greatest blessings of her life, she said.
McCullen asked Jackson that if she is confirmed to the Supreme Court, she would uphold all Americans’ freedoms, including free speech and the right to life.
“You might wonder why I am so passionate about supporting mothers and free speech,” she concluded. “Well, it’s called love. And love, you can’t argue with that.”
Jackson has the support of NARAL Pro-Choice America, which advocates for abortions without limits up to birth, as well as leftist “dark money” groups linked to pro-abortion billionaire George Soros.
She also ruled against the Trump administration’s efforts to defund the billion-dollar abortion chain Planned Parenthood, and she clerked for pro-abortion Justice Stephen Breyer when he issued an opinion against the partial-birth abortion ban.
President Joe Biden promised to nominate a justice who believes in the so-called “right” to abort an unborn baby. If confirmed, Jackson would replace retiring Justice Breyer.