‘40 Days for Life’ New Orleans has borne much fruit
Ever wonder if 40 Days for Life really makes a difference in the fight against abortion?
Since the international event began in 2007, more than 11,796 women worldwide changed their minds and chose to have their babies instead of an abortion; 133 abortion workers have quit their jobs; and 75 abortion facilities have closed.
Father Dennis Hayes, pastor of Blessed Trinity Church where the event was held, talked about a common thread in the Virgin Mary’s pregnancy and unexpected pregnancies today.
Every conception (regardless of circumstances) involves not simply something human – it involves something sacred,” he said. “That is what we believe. Our job is to make that known.”
Archbishop Gregory Aymond described the scriptural significance of 40 days as a time when God is “present to people in a special way, to call them closer to him, to transform them and convert them and their hearts into greater love for him.”
For example, 40 days was the span of time for Noah and the flood, Moses on the mountain, Jesus in prayer and fasting in the desert.
Archbishop Aymond listed what one commits to during the 40 Days for Life:
► Committing ourselves to prayer and fasting, with the emphasis on prayer.
► Giving witness by prayer, presence and engagement, particularly at the new Planned Parenthood facility. “They speak about abortion; we speak about life,”
Archbishop Aymond said.
► To be more attentive to conversations we have with other people about pro-life issues. Why are we pro-life; why is someone not?
With so much violence and murder in New Orleans, people get numb to the concept of violence. But, he said, there is violence in abortion.
“When we take a child from a mother’s womb, there is violence to the child. The child, obviously dies,” he said. “But, isn’t there also violence to the mother?”
That includes physical, emotional and spiritual violence.
“What we are about is to call people to this integrity of life and tell others, tell our world, we are for women’s health care.”
Oftentimes, pro-life advocates are said to be against women “because we don’t think they should have a choice. ... We are for women to have the privilege to give birth. ... We are the voice for the unborn” whose voices can’t be heard and need someone to speak for them, “and a voice of compassion, hope and love for women.
We don’t want to take away health care for women; we want them to have the best health care for her and for the unborn child.”
During the “Year of Mercy,” Archbishop Aymond encouraged everyone to reach out to those who have had an abortion, “to show compassion and be a sign, a face of God’s forgiveness and kindness” and tell them about adoption and Rachel’s Vineyard retreats to find that forgiveness.
Archbishop Aymond said once abortion is justified, it’s easy to justify other anti-life initiatives: euthanasia, assisted suicide, the death penalty, turning our back against the poor, human trafficking, immigrants trying to become legal U.S. citizens and pornography.
Several other speakers shared how abortion is not “health care” for women.
Dr. Susan Caldwell, Hope Woman’s Clinic, said once she understood God “as creator and sustainer” of all life, she “began to comprehend the enormous dignity of each and every human person.” She removed “the distorted, ‘fun house’ glasses that make us see the human person as an object valued only for what he or she can do rather than what he or she is – ‘a beloved child of God.’”
“Abortion is not health care,” Caldwell said. “It seems silly to say that health care should heal and not kill.”
Kathy Allen, Ph.D., state project director of Black Advocates for Life (a project of Louisiana Right to Life), knows life matters. As the mother of a child with Down syndrome, she said “40 Days for Life is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate life and demonstrate to the world the power of standing in solidarity in prayer to save the lives of the unborn and to save the boys and girls who are the future leaders of our community.”
She said there are two ways to look at life – through the eyes of the world and through the eyes of the word of God.
“Planned Parenthood would make you believe that abortion is something you need to have access to because it is good healthcare, it provides a good quality of life, an opportunity to chose when you want to have a pregnancy and when you want to interrupt your plans.” Allen said. “We have a right to abortion in this way of thinking. ... That’s the worldly persepctive. But the word of God in Matthew chapter 7, verse 13, says, “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”
“40 Days for Life brings the message of God’s mercy and love to those who have been involved in abortion and brings a message and stands for the truth of God’s plan for life, that life is precious, that God has a purpose for every life and that our choice for life leads to the great joy of living in a community of great peace and justice. The truth enables us to be victoirous over false prophets in sheep’s clothing and false promises of the world.”
Sancha Smith, Louisiana director of Concered Women of America, the largest public policy women’s organization, spoke from the gut about how abortion is not women’s healthcare. She revealed how she has had several abortions.
“Abortion from the floor to the ceiling is built on a lie. Planned Parenthood claims to serve the poor and low-income communities meanwhile their purpose is to eliminate them and not serve them,” citing that 70 percent of all Planned Parenthood facilities are in black or Latino communities.
She mentioned how Margaret Sanger, a birth conrol advocate who founded clinics that evolved into Planned Parenthood, was a eugenist, a person who thought to “destory, eliminate all chidlren who were racially unpure . ... the black commuinty has been suffering genocide at the hands of Planned Parenthood.”
“We are created in his image and likeness. That is the truth,” Smith said
She said there’s a new phrase going around: reproductive justice. “Justice for whom,“ Smith asked. She said justice means to use laws to punish criminals.
“Justice for women? No. The real truth: Justice wrapped himself in the flesh and came as a baby.”
N.O. 40 Days for Life
► WHAT: Prayer, fasting and vigil to end abortion.
► WHen: Daily 7 a.m.-7 p.m., opening Sept. 28 with sunrise prayer at 6:30 a.m. and ending Nov. 6 from 4-6 p.m. with a candlelight prayer vigil, all on the neutral ground at the new Planned Parenthood, 4624 South Claiborne near Napoleon avenues in New Orleans. On Oct. 1, join the NOLA Life Chain along Claiborne Avenue from 10 a.m.-noon.