TACOMA, Wash. -- For 40 days, a small group is huddling on the sidewalk outside Planned Parenthood here to oppose abortion. Volunteers take shifts, holding signs and praying aloud along Martin Luther King Jr. Way.
Up to 175 people are taking part in the vigil in Tacoma, one of more than 170 cities in the United States and Canada participating in "40 Days for Life."
Their goal is to prevent abortions and stir up Christians to oppose abortion, said Peggy Ghigleri, director of the Tacoma campaign.
"A lot of the churches have become silent about abortion," said Ghigleri, a Tacoma homemaker and Catholic.
Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Aurora Jewell said people with the Tacoma vigil have harassed and intimidated patients and staff members this fall at the Tacoma Health Center.
Planned Parenthood provides volunteer escorts to walk with patients to and from their cars, Jewell said.
"They shouldn't have to be intimidated when they're trying to access health services," she said.
Vigils and protests against abortion haven't been as prevalent in recent years. But abortion is still a volatile topic. It was an issue in the final presidential debate, with John McCain saying he opposes the Roe v. Wade decision and Barack Obama saying he supports a woman's right to choose.
And from the Christian One News Now website:
The 40 Days for Life campaign, a period of fasting and prayer to save babies from abortion, is in its final two weeks.Various events are being held outside abortion facilities throughout the country, and David Bereit is spearheading the campaign. "We have a total of 268 children who have been spared from abortion, 268 women who have been spared from a life of regret," he comments. "We have had tens of thousands of people on the streets participating in peaceful vigils in front of abortion facilities in 179 cities across 47 states."
Bereit firmly believes the positive influences from this campaign will not stop at the end of the 40-day period. "We know that this is something that they're forming a habit -- that they will be continuing to do this long after 40 Days for Life is over because children are dying 365 days a year," he says. "Women are being wounded 365 days a year, and so 40 Days for Life is merely a beginning, not the end."
Shawn Carney, the national outreach director for the campaign, says pro-life pregnancy resource centers have seen a significant increase in their client numbers as well as mothers who are choosing not to abort their babies. Christian Newswire reports that Planned Parenthood calls the 40 Days for Life campaign "40 days of harassment," but Carney contends the image of people praying outside an abortion clinic "has given women a sense of hope at a point in their lives when they feel most vulnerable and desperate."
The real untold story in the years of pro-life activism is the story of all those mothers who have been persuaded by pro-life protesters to change their minds, to give birth, to welcome their babies or place them in loving homes for adoption. I think the very presence of these children--some of them now adults--makes the case against abortion far more eloquently than words ever can. How can anyone look at the face of an angelic child and insist that his or her mother should still have had the right to kill him or her?
That's something the religious sources writing about abortion always understand--and something the secular ones seldom do. Abortion is a dreadful finality; the people praying and protesting outside clinics are trying to keep the women entering them from becoming the unfortunate mother of a dead baby instead of the joyful mother of a living one. It's too late for her to decide not to be a mother--she already is.
The secular media dutifully reports that women are being "harassed" by the presence of clinic protesters. But as of today, the 40 Days for Live blog reports that over three hundred babies have been confirmed to have been saved by the presence of prayerful participants; three hundred children will enter this world in due course instead of ending their lives in a soul-killing clinic before their mothers even had a chance to meet them. That's the real story of 40 Days for Life, the real success of this movement, even if the secular media never reports it at all.