A pro-life sidewalk counselor expressed concern before members of the U.S. Senate Thursday that Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson has misrepresented people like her.
“When I see a woman approaching…I always say, ‘Good morning! I’m Eleanor. How can I help you?’” said Eleanor McCullen, an 85-year-old Catholic grandmother located near Boston, describing how she greets women outside abortion clinics.
“It’s a powerful moment when a woman looks at me and our eyes connect, and she stops to talk,” McCullen stressed during her March 24 testimony. “It’s in that moment I promise her she will never walk her journey alone.”
McCullen testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Jackson’s confirmation hearings. She told Catholic News Agency that she has dedicated 22 years to empowering women. Located in Newton, she engages with pregnant women considering abortion outside a Planned Parenthood in Boston.
“So many women I’ve met believe that their only choice is to end the life of their baby,” McCullen told senators. “It is in that moment of isolation and fear, that I have the privilege of offering a different choice—one that empowers and encourages the woman to know she is fully capable of becoming a mom and pursuing a job and going to school and having a successful and happy life.”
McCullen introduced herself as the lead plaintiff in a 2014 Supreme Court case regarding free speech. In that case, McCullen v. Coakley, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down a Massachusetts law that imposed a 35-foot “buffer zone” around abortion clinics, which prevented sidewalk counselors from speaking with women entering those clinics. Faith-based legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom helped with the case.
The court’s opinion in the case mentions another case, McGuire v. Reilly, which involved Jackson. In 2001, Jackson co-authored an amicus brief in McGuire v. Reilly, in support of a Massachusetts “buffer zone” law, pro-life groups, such as Susan B. Anthony List, have cautioned.
In the amicus brief Jackson wrote on behalf of abortion groups, pro-life leaders previously told Senate leaders, she “portrayed pro-life sidewalk counselors as a ‘hostile, noisy crowd of ‘in-your-face protesters.’”
McCullen appeared to respond to accusations like this in her testimony.
“I was deeply saddened to find out that Judge Jackson, while in private practice, advocated in favor of Massachusetts’ previous ‘buffer zone’ law in her amicus brief on behalf of abortion clinics,” McCullen said. “She and her colleagues maligned pro-life sidewalk counselors, characterizing us in ugly and false ways….”
The above comes from a March 25 story on the site of the Catholic News Agency.