40 Days for Life campaign begins in September to pray for closure of abortion clinics
Friday, Aug. 14, 2020
In past years, the 40 Days for Life events have included a closing event, but because of the pandemic, this year that may not be possible.
SALT LAKE CITY — 40 Days for Life has planned campaigns in Salt Lake City and Ogden beginning Sept. 23.
The 40-day effort aims to end abortion locally through prayer and fasting, community outreach and peaceful all-day vigils in front of locations that perform abortions or refer people for abortions.
At the vigil sites, participants will pray for a closure of that clinic or referral center. In Ogden, the vigil will be outside Planned Parenthood, an abortion referral center, at 4387 Harrison Blvd. Shifts are available around the clock, although only couples or men should sign up for overnight hours for safety reasons, said Jailyn Smith, who is organizing the effort.
“It’s important to be there because it really can help the women realize that they don’t have to choose abortion, that there are other options that aren’t going to be so detrimental,” Smith said.
“I think the campaign is really important for exposure,” she added. “If people see our signs or see people standing out praying, they are going to be curious. Sometimes that’s the sign a woman in an unplanned pregnancy is looking for. She’s looking for a reason not to make this decision. I think that 40 Days for Life is a wonderful way to do that. Prayer is very powerful. Too many people say, ‘Oh, you’re just out there praying. What’s that going to do?’ But we can see looking throughout the Bible how powerful prayer can be.”
On Aug. 12, Smith, who is a member of Clearfield Community Church, organized Chalk 4 Life, where those opposed to abortion wrote life-affirming messages (about unborn life) in chalk on the sidewalks surrounding the abortion clinic. That evening Smith and others prayed for lives affected by abortion and provided information on signing up for the vigil.
“I have a passion for helping unborn children, and as I learned more about what abortion really is, I was just extremely horrified,” Smith said.
During the past couple of years, she has asked God to use her to “help women and men see that choosing life is a beautiful, beautiful option and it will enrich their lives a lot more than choosing abortion,” she said of her decision to get involved in 40 Days For Life. “I want to start helping to break down those lies that are being perpetuated in our society against life and I want to be part of that culture of life and help abolish the culture of death.”
She cautions 40 Days for Life participants who are considering bringing their children that it is not always the best environment for youngsters. “People that are upset, they’re not going to care that you have your children with you,” she said.
In Salt Lake City, James Snow, an at-large member of the Anglican ordinariate, has been the 40 Days for Life coordinator since 2008. In the Salt Lake campaign, several Catholic parishes and some Protestant churches each adopt a day and have their members pray outside Planned Parenthood at 160 South 1000 East on that day.
For the spring campaign this year, close to 500 people participated.
“It’s mainly a Catholic-driven volunteer effort,” although some Protestant churches and individual members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints join the campaign, Snow said.
In Salt Lake, the 40 Days for Life participants will be at the clinic during its hours of operation. Most people will sign up for an hour or more each week; generally, that’s two to six people. Catholic participants tend to pray the rosary or Chaplet of Divine Mercy, Snow said.
“This is the greatest human rights affront that we’re facing,” he said. “No other event takes more human life than abortion.”
During the vigil, social distancing will be encouraged, and participants may wear masks if they choose. Normally the 40 Days for Life campaigns sponsor rallies and a closing celebration for those who participate, but that will not be possible this year in Ogden due to pandemic restrictions.
The Salt Lake City campaign’s leadership team will decide about a closing celebration closer to the vigil, Snow said.
For information about participating, contact your parish’s Respect for Life committee or sign up at 40daysforlife.com/saltlakecity or 40daysforlife.com/ogden.
Catholics who are unable to join the vigil in person may pray from their homes. Both Smith and Snow have a limited supply of yard signs, along with balloons, T-shirts, wristbands, pens, pins, magnets and bumper stickers that support the vigil that they are distributing free to anyone who would like them.