Earlier this month I attended the 40 Days for Life vigil in front of the abortion clinic in Long Beach, California, a clinic called Family Planning Associates. I’ve always been very reluctant to go to abortion clinics, fearing confrontations. After I heard David Bereit, the founder of 40 Days for Life, speak at the March for Life in San Francisco this past January, I was moved to do it. If you have not yet heard about 40 Days for Life, it is a yearly event that is done during Lent for 40 straight days. The vigil at abortion clinics is very peaceful. You go there and stand in front of an abortion clinic designated by 40 Days for Life and pray for those going in and coming out. Literature can be distributed to people going to the clinic.
As a Catholic, I’ve always neglected to do anything special for Lent. This year I thought that going to this clinic and praying silently for those using their services, as well as all those babies who have lost their lives at such places would be a good thing for me to do during lent. After my fist visit, I decided that I would do it many more times during this designated period. I sent a notice to my e-mail list for the Respect Life Ministry of my church and some people responded. The following week I went to the same clinic with my wife and two other friends from my church. Others told me they did it on their own. This particular visit was very moving.
Upon arrival in front of the clinic we saw a young woman and what looked like her boyfriend, leaving the abortion clinic. The man asks the woman “how do you feel?” The young woman responds with anger: “I feel like shit, what do you think?”
In our two-hour vigil we came upon many other compelling scenes. In one scene, a vigil person is talking to a young black woman with a small baby in her arms. We learned that this young woman was there to pick up her sister who was getting her 9th abortion. In another scene, two of my fellow vigil members are talking to a woman in her car as she is pulling out of the clinic parking lot. As this woman is leaving and talking to our people, she tells them that her daughter is inside to get an abortion. She tries to call her daughter on the cell phone but there is no answer. We assumed that her daughter got an abortion. In another compelling scene, I see three of my fellow vigil people huddled with a young Hispanic woman with two small children and praying on the sidewalk. We learned that this woman had gone to the clinic to get an abortion. Her husband was incarcerated, she had two small children and now she is pregnant. She left the clinic and stormed out because the staff of the clinic was rude to her. My fellow vigil people gave her a big hug and she leaves with her two little kids, who are oblivious to what is going on.
I have no idea, nor claim that we had any impact while we were there, but I have a feeling that we did have an impact just by standing there and showing that there are those of us who believe that the unborn are God’s little children too. The staff of the abortion clinic will only tell their clients that what is inside them is just a clump of tissue and getting rid of it is akin to getting your tonsils out.