by Margarita Guerrero.
Though I was raised Catholic, there was a time when I believed that abortion was simply a woman’s choice. I even figured that, given the circumstances, I myself would consider getting one without much of a moral dilemma. But over the years, personal experiences with abortion have opened my eyes.
There was, for example, the sixteen-year-old boy who told me with tears and great emotion that his girlfriend had aborted their baby without his knowledge and that when he went to talk with her about it, her parents had mistreated him.
Then there was the friend who, fearing that she was pregnant, asked me to go to Planned Parenthood with her. I did. She was hoping she wasn’t pregnant because she couldn’t bear to go through another abortion. She’d already had three.
Then there was the classmate I found in a dark hallway weeping uncontrollably. She had had an abortion and couldn’t live with herself.
In my belief about abortion, I went through various stages. At one point I had a vague notion that abortion is wrong, but I didn’t feel compelled to do anything about it.
That began to change when a former college acquaintance introduced me to her seven-month-old baby whom she thanked me for "saving." All I had done was listen to her and suggest she speak to her boyfriend before making a decision she might later regret. I had just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
I’m now at a point where I know that life is sacred and that therefore abortion is intrinsically evil. So I must do all I can to defend life, choosing it in every way I can even if that means putting me at odds with my family and the law.
This past spring, along with numerous others, I participated in legal, peaceful, prayerful vigils outside a Planned Parenthood abortion facility as part of 40 Days for Life.
40 Days for Life is a campaign that has been going since 2007. It has been taking place twice a year, in autumn and during Lent, as a witness to the fact that abortion is an evil in our midst and that God can and will defeat it, one heart at a time.
During those forty days, those taking part keep vigil, pray and fast for everyone involved in abortion: fathers, mothers, babies, abortion facility workers, and the nation. They also pray against all the subtle ways we create and embrace the culture of death.
The ideal is for the vigil to go for 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the forty days, but each group does what it can.
The campaign also includes educating people about the evil of abortion, door-to-door petitions, distributing information flyers, and encouraging media coverage.
One of the beauties of 40 Days for Life is that people participate in whatever way they can. It is about being there—standing witness to life, offering hope, and letting God do the work.
The Roanoke campaign this past Lent had participants from near and far. Some were women already on a courageous journey of healing from an abortion; others had had a spiritual renewal or awakening.
Participants included people from every walk of life. A retired pastor took the 7 to 10 a.m. shift every day. An elderly gentleman prayed three to six hours daily.
Another man had one daughter who is now pregnant after years of fearing she never could have a child and another daughter who is in denial about her abortion.
Still another man, who was moved by a commercial we’d been airing on a local Christian radio station, started showing up every day after work to keep vigil for an hour or so. A bus driver who, in last year’s vigil, used to honk whenever he passed by, now joined the vigil whenever he was waiting for his next bus run.
Since its beginning in 2007, 40 Days for Life has continued to grow. It is now taking place in all fifty American states, in six Canadian provinces, and in Australia, Northern Ireland, and Denmark.
So far, the lives of 2,168 babies have been saved (and those are only the ones we know about), 27 abortion workers quit their jobs, numerous abortion facilities have had to curtail their hours, and five abortions facilities have closed down completely.
Moreover, a number of men and women who have been hurt by abortion stepped up to begin their post-abortion healing and recovery.
Here in Roanoke, one man got out of his car to tell us that his wife had recently gone for an abortion. She had not told him she was pregnant.
Something went wrong in the course of a chemical abortion, and she ended up in emergency in the hospital. Now he did not know if his baby was dead or alive.
He sobbed and sobbed, and the two people listening to him cried with him. They prayed with him and for his wife and his child who, living or dead, is in the hands of God. When he thanked the people on the vigil, he said, "Please keep being here."
Though this spring’s 40 Days for Life is over, I continue to pray daily for the ongoing conversion of my heart and the hearts of all people to a culture of life.
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to participate both personally and as a representative of Madonna House in the 40 Days for Life Campaign. I intend to do so again; I intend to "keep being there."
—For more information on 40 Days for Life, see www.40daysforlife.com. The next one begins soon—on September 22.
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