Diocese of Knoxville joins rest of the country in prayerful vigil for the victims of abortion
By Catholic News Service
The national 40 Days for Life organization launched its fall campaign Sept. 22, with volunteers in over 1,000 cities across the country planning to pray, fast, and hold vigils outside abortion clinics.
They also will participate in outreach to the community to promote awareness about abortion and outreach directly to women considering abortion.
“With the changing abortion landscape, as well as things happening legislatively in the states and nationally in the Supreme Court, there has never been a greater time for this coordinated pro-life movement in our nation,” said Shawn Carney, president and CEO of the Texas-based organization.
“Great strides are being made to end abortion, and we know these peaceful vigils make a difference,” Mr. Carney said in a statement.
Regarding this “changing” landscape, he pointed to “the national angst and protests related to abortion, specifically concerning the Texas ‘heartbeat bill,’” which bans abortions in the state after six weeks of pregnancy and allows an exception only in the case of a medical emergency.
On Dec. 1, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in an appeal from Mississippi to keep its ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, and supporters of the law are urging the court to re-examine its previous abortion rulings, including 1973’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide.
Mr. Carney said the goal of the 40 Days for Life event, which will end Oct. 31, “is threefold.”
The aim is “to empower pregnant women to choose life for their babies, to inspire abortion workers to step away from their industries, and to work toward closing abortion facilities in our country and around the world,” he said.
According to 40 Days for Life, about 25 percent of those leading the campaign are women who previously had abortions “and now want to empower women to choose life.”
“We have heard story after story of women choosing life due to the outpouring of love and truth seen through the 40 Days for Life campaigns,” Mr. Carney said. “So many lives have been saved through the efforts of our volunteers and the passion and purpose they have to end abortion.”
The organization has a list of participating cities and locations in those cities posted on its website at 40daysforlife.com/location.
Since going national in 2007, 40 Days for Life has carried out more than 6,000 campaigns in 64 countries and “saved 19,198 lives, contributed to the closing of 112 abortion centers and helped 221 workers quit the abortion industry,” according to a news release from the organization.
All of this has been accomplished, it said, “by holding community-led peaceful prayer vigils outside local abortion facilities twice a year worldwide.”
In addition to its regular campaigns each spring and fall, the Texas pro-life organization launched its first 40 Days for Life 365 campaign late last year after years of development. It’s being rolled out in various locations around the nation.
One of those places is the Denver Archdiocese, where Planned Parenthood operates the nation’s second largest abortion clinic, and the new campaign began this year on Aug. 14.
“We believe this will be a historical day that marks ‘the beginning of the end of abortion’” at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains in Denver’s Stapleton area, said Maria Elisa Olivas, community coordinator for Catholic Charities of Denver.
“This will be the day that the Christian community of Denver pledges to have someone praying for the unborn not just 40 days, but every day” this facility is open, she said in a statement issued as the campaign began.
Knoxville is another city where 40 Days for Life is underway, marking the second time this year that the peaceful prayer vigil has been held outside the Planned Parenthood abortion facility on Cherry Street at Washington Avenue on the eastern side of the city.
Parishioners from across the Diocese of Knoxville are volunteering to spend time each day in prayer across the street from the facility, praying for an end to abortion and for the victims of abortion.
“The 40 Days for Life is so needed with all that is going on in our country and locally with the expansion of Planned Parenthood on Cherry Street. The magnitude of the building expansion at Planned Parenthood is heartbreaking, and as I watch the construction all I can think of is how horrifying and devastating this is and will be for all who enter,” said Lisa Morris, an organizer of the Diocese of Knoxville’s 40 Days for Life campaign.
“The countless lives lost and the women’s lives who will never be the same is a tragedy with consequences that go and on for a lifetime. Respect for life must be at the center of who we are, and we must be a witness to the dignity of every life in all that we do. To be a witness not only for those going in, but also for all the workers on the construction site, and for those who work there, we pray for their conversion to see the truth and come full circle to value and support life, not end it,” Mrs. Morris continued. “For me that is why the 40 Days for Life is more important now than ever, the peaceful, prayerful witness to the precious gift of every life. Prayer is action and changes hearts and lives. In this Respect for Life month of October, it is a reminder to us that we are called every day to be the voice of those who have no voice but ours, in a loving and peaceful way. Prayers for our world, one heart at a time to choose life, that they may live.”