SALT LAKE CITY — While the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe vs Wade was a victory for pro-life advocates nationwide, in Utah its effect has been blunted by a legal stay on the state’s law that prohibits abortion except in a few limited circumstances. This will be uppermost on the minds of many who will participate in the annual 40 Days for Life prayer vigil, which kicks off Sept. 27.
That evening, Catholics from parishes across the Salt Lake Valley and others who support the rights of unborn children will join in prayer vigils in front of the Planned Parenthood offices in Salt Lake City. A second campaign will commence in Ogden.
Catholics from local parishes are also arranging to participate in prayer efforts at their parishes during the 40 days.
The international 40 Days for Life campaign “aims to end abortion locally through prayer and fasting, community outreach, and a peaceful all-day vigil in front of abortion businesses,” according to the website 40daysforlife.com.
The organization chose 40 days as the length for its spring and fall campaigns for its spiritual significance.
“Through Biblical history, God used 40-day periods to transform individuals, communities or nations,” said Barbara Granja, who coordinates the Salt Lake City event. “So, it’s a transformation we’re hoping for with 40 days.”
The local campaigns are calling on those who wish to protect the lives of the unborn to sign up for a one-hour shift once a week during those 40 days. They also encourage participants to bring a buddy.
“Once you get out there with a buddy, then you’re getting comfortable praying in public,” Granja said.
Unlike sidewalk advocates, 40 Days for Life participants do not interact with those who visit the abortion clinics. Granja said she hopes to see “more people having the courage to just stand out there and silently pray because just standing out there is enough to deter a woman to maybe think twice about what she is doing and maybe turn away.”
“You get that sense of peace when you’re praying,” she added. “That sense of peace may allow people to consider being a sidewalk advocate in the future.”
Sidewalk advocates stand outside the clinics year-round, greeting the women and seeking to provide them with resources to help them choose life for their unborn children.
Participating in the 40 Days for Life campaign is “almost a stepping-stone to becoming a sidewalk advocate if they’d like to be because just getting there and knowing more about the abortion business with Planned Parenthood, they’re witnessing things right then and there but they’re getting more comfortable,” Granja said.
Sidewalk advocates in Salt Lake City have been able to identify 33 babies that have been saved this year by the advocates, the 40 Days for Life campaigns and the occasional presence of a ProLife Utah ultrasound van outside the clinic.
“That’s such good news — knowing that just being out there and representing life can give women a choice to choose life,” Granja said.
For information about participating in the 40 Days for Life campaigns, visit 40daysforlife.com; click on Salt Lake City or Ogden as a location to be led to a portal to sign up for a vigil time slot.