A powerful message of hope Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler, editor   
Thursday, Nov. 06, 2008 -- 12:00 AM

At least one baby in Madison — and 441 other unborn babies — were reported to be saved from abortion as a result of the 40 Days for Life vigil held in more than 175 communities around the country from September 24 to November 2.

Editor's View
Mary C. Uhler

In Madison, one young woman decided not to have an abortion and came to Care Net Pregnancy Center of Dane County for help. This is just one example of those whose minds were changed through the witness of people standing outside abortion clinics.

Peaceful, prayerful presence at abortion clinics

David Bereit, national campaign director for 40 Days for Life, explained the importance of being physically present at the clinics.“People who seek the services of abortionists are people who have lost hope. The sight of people engaged in peaceful, prayerful vigil sends a message of hope at precisely the time these women need it most. We must — and we will — continue to be present to offer that hope.”

Besides the women and men who come to the abortion clinics to procure an abortion, the 40 Days for Life volunteers are also changing the lives of people who are dealing with previous abortion experiences. Bereit says, “We hear every day about people seeking help who have been dealing with abortion experiences — some of them have been hurting for more than 30 years.”

Some of the Madison volunteers reported handing out literature about Project Rachel, a post-abortion ministry in the Diocese of Madison. One woman, who confronted a pro-life volunteer belligerently at first, ended up crying about her abortion and taking a Project Rachel brochure.

The 40 Days for Life vigil has also affected people working in the abortion clinics. Bereit noted that “there are people in the abortion industry who have been touched by this effort. They, too, are witnessing the power of prayer at work first hand.” In Madison, those involved in 40 Days for Life prayed for the abortion clinic doctor and staff.

Stand up for life 365 days a year

While participating in the 40 Days for Life vigil was a powerful witness, some of those involved encouraged people to continue to “stand up for life” every day of the year. At the closing candlelight prayer service in Madison, emcee Will Goodman urged the volunteers, “Come back. They’ll be open tomorrow,” he said of the Planned Parenthood Clinic on Madison’s east side.  “For 365 days we’re called to be a voice for truth,” he said. 

For many of these volunteers, it means praying and witnessing at abortion clinics in all kinds of weather and the wee hours of the morning. Even when the clinic is closed, there is an opportunity to pray and talk with passers-by.

Many pro-life volunteers are being trained in “sidewalk counseling,” learning how to talk gently and lovingly with people coming to the abortion clinics. Often, the women and men coming to the clinic are desperate and do not want to abort their babies. If they learn about support services that are available, they might decide to choose life for their unborn children.  

How to continue the effort

Those interested in learning how to pray effectively at abortion clinics or to be a sidewalk counselor are invited to hear a presentation by Jeff Eschbach on Saturday, Dec. 6, at 9 a.m. at Holy Redeemer Church, 120 W. Johnson St., Madison.

There will be monthly first Friday and first Saturday prayer vigils in Madison: Friday at Planned Parenthood eastside at 3706 Orin Rd. at 3 p.m. and Saturday at Planned Parenthood downtown at 416 W. Mifflin St. at 10 a.m. All are welcome to come to pray and witness.

The Madison 40 Days for Life is also planning a Victory Rally at St. Peter Church in Madison on Saturday, Nov. 8. Go to for more details.