By Maria Wiering
Local pro-life advocates prayed daily outside abortion facilities in Baltimore, Frederick and Annapolis Sept. 26 to Nov. 4 as part of the international 40 Days for Life campaign, which seeks to end abortion through prayer, fasting and public witness.
Ann Boland, an organizer for Baltimore’s campaign, prays year-round outside of Hillcrest Clinic in Catonsville. She said the campaign’s “success” is difficult to calculate, but she knows women who planned to have abortions and changed their minds because of 40 Days for Life. In 2011, the campaign prompted a licensed practical nurse to leave her job at Hillcrest.
About 400 people participated in the recent Baltimore campaign, including people who, like Boland, once never imagined publically praying outside of an abortion facility, she said.
“The success for me is the number of new people who get involved because of 40 Days for Life,” she said. “The more people you can get to pray in public, the greatest chance you have to get your prayers answered and have someone’s conscience tweaked.”
In Frederick, approximately 300 people participated in vigils outside of American Women’s Services near Frederick Memorial Hospital. Fredrick’s campaign coordinator Bob Maloney said he is still evaluating the campaign’s impact, but that positive reactions from passersby outweighed negative ones 10 to 1.
“We definitely have made a difference,” he said.
A parishioner of St. Peter the Apostle, Libertytown, Maloney said pro-life advocates “have to put the rubber on the road and get out there” to be “a witness for a sanctity of life, and bring it to people’s attention in a prayerful and peaceful way.”
The first 40 Days for Life vigil was held in 2007 in College Station, Texas. The campaign has spread to more than 481 cities around the world. Coordinated by the 40 Days for Life organization, vigils are held every spring and fall. A 2013 spring campaign is planned in Baltimore Feb. 13 to March 24.
As of Nov. 9, the Virginia-based organization estimated that this year’s overall campaign’s efforts prevented at least 675 abortions, based on information from local campaigns. It also claims campaigns have caused 25 abortion centers to close and 72 abortion industry workers to leave their jobs.