Friday, December 10, 2004

The Florence Nightingale of the Pro-life Movement

United for Life George Carter, a white haired Irishman, on Friday mornings usually stands outside the white pillared doorway of the non-descript three story building that houses the Choice Medical Group on 1700 Pierce St, which does abortion up to twenty-four weeks.

He or other members of United for Life (UFL) are there to protect and support a woman who has saved more unborn babies from abortion than any other sidewalk counselor in San Francisco. She is successful because of her comforting nurse-like manners.

“The first time I meet Nora Dougherty I was most impressed by the calmness and the non-threatening manner in which she approached these young ladies. The first image that popped into my mind was a very reassuring, comforting nurse,” Carter said,

“And then thereafter who would I think of, as one of the greatest nurses of the last two or three hundred years, that wonderful English woman - Florence Nightingale. Quite often, I think of Nora as the Florence Nightingale of the pro-life Movement in San Francisco and the Bay Area.”

Dougherty credits her success to waking up at 6:30 AM to spend an hour in prayer and quiet time to prepare for the pro-life sidewalk counseling. She said, ”I pray for mercy to protect us out there. Also, to give me the right words to say to the young women.”

After prayer she usually drives out to meets one or two members of UFL in front of the abortion clinic. They use a few signs that aren’t graphic, which show the development of the baby in the womb at different weeks.

It is a long walk carrying the signs as Nora parks her car three blocks away because she fears that pro-abortionist might damage it.

Pro-abortionists have spit on the signs and verbally as well as physically threatened the sidewalk counselors in front of the Choice Medical Group.

Recently, a man drove up in an old truck. He jumped out cursing and “pushing around” Nora and another UFL sidewalk counselor. A week later, the man returned, but this time George Carter who is “reasonably bulky” was there.

“He jumped out again and he rushed across. Joe and I were standing there, and he was in the gutter. He was about five feet two. When you’re that small you don’t stand in the gutter below the level of someone who is six feet high,” Carter said.

”So he started doing his old stick again. I kind of looked at him and kidded around that I was going to take my wristwatch off. He jumped in his truck and drove away.”

The day that the man jumped out of the truck the second time, the counselors had decided to leave at twelve noon. But, they changed their minds about leaving because they didn’t want that man to think he had intimidated them.

So they waited until he encountered George Carter and left. Right after he left a baby was saved. Nora is hoping he returns so she can tell him the story of how he helped to save an unborn baby.
“This couple pulled up. They were discussing going in and having an abortion. She came over to me so I handed her some literature. She said she had been praying about it for weeks,” Nora says,

“She said she felt that God had sent us as angels and if we weren’t there she said she definitely would have had the abortion. But this was God’s answer the fact that we were out there. And we were only out there in the afternoon because this guy had harassed us.”

Both Nora and George said this is only one example God’s loving providence in their pro-life work. Both would thank the man if they ever see him again.

Nora got involved in pro-life work twenty years ago in Las Vegas, Nevada. Being pro-life she introduced herself to pro-life sidewalk counselors outside the local abortion clinic, she was asked to join them.

The first time she sidewalk-counseled women considering abortion she was able to save babies “right away.”

“The first success, was a couple I really didn’t want to talk to because they were a little bit scary, I thought they looked rough, but I talk to them, and I actually changed their minds,” Nora said,” So if the Lord tells you to talk to someone don’t have any fear.

After fifteen years of pro-life work in Nevada, she moved to San Francisco and started going out sidewalk counseling by herself.

Finally, she got in touch with Bea Smalley of UFL and went out with them on Saturday. Until she wasn’t able to go on that day and started her Friday morning outings at the Choice Medical Group where she came to be known as the best sidewalk counselor in San Francisco.

“Nora is the most effective sidewalk counselor I have known. I attribute this to her combination of prayer, creativity, and non-threatening approach,” Smalley said.

“She is the embodiment of John Paul II's challenge. "Be not afraid. Stand up for life."

Fred Martinez is the religion editor of the Conservative Monitor, a former columnist with NewsMax and a San Francisco Faith reporter. He has been a pro-life activist over twenty years.

Martinez’s new book The Hidden Axis of Evil: The Clinton, Sex Abuse and the Abortioning of America outlines "ingenious ways of fighting the evils of abortion on several levels" according to Kelly Clark of The Lady In The Pew website

The book may be purchased by credit card at,,, or

Bookstores may buy wholesale at Ingram, by going or by calling 888-280-7715.

Martinez can be contacted at


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