.- A California clergy group linked to Planned Parenthood has organized a 40-day prayer campaign for abortion rights, drawing criticism from Shawn Carney, head of the successful 40 Days for Life campaign.
âTheyâre using prayer basically to pray for more abortions and pray that women will have abortions,â said Carney, who charged that the effort ignores the reality of abortion and the real needs of women.
The group's prayers âavoid the actual issue at hand: every single abortion ends the life of an innocent human being, made in the image and likeness of God,â he told CNA on April 11.
âWe have to pray for things that are good. We have to pray for things that are going to give life, not take it away.â
The Humboldt County Clergy for Choice, a committee of Six Rivers Planned Parenthood in Eureka, Calif., organized a â40 Days of Prayer & Contemplationâ event from March 18 to April 27 to support âwomen and reproductive justice.â
The event uses a â40 Days of Prayerâ series from the Missouri-based pro-abortion rights group Faith Aloud. The pamphlet includes prayers for abortion providers and for medical students who want to perform abortions. It prays for an end to violence against women and against abortion providers.
It also prays for politicians who support âa womanâs right to make her own medical decisions.â
The pamphlet stresses the âdignity and autonomy of womenâ and prays that women who have had abortions may âstand tall and refuse shame.â
The first day of prayer says âwe pray for women for whom pregnancy is not good news, that they know they have choices.â The Day 36 prayer reads âToday we pray for the families weâve chosen. May they know the blessing of choice.â
âToday we give thanks and celebrate that abortion is still safe and legal,â the Day 40 entry says.
Carney said he thinks the pamphlet is inspired by the 40 Days for Life campaign, which recently ended its organized springtime effort of pro-life outreach. Participants reportedly helped save 804 babies and witnessed the conversion of several abortion clinic workers.
âImitation is always the best form of flattery,â Carney said. âWeâve seen Planned Parenthood at different spots across the country try to mock the 40 Days for Life campaign in many ways. Usually they call it 40 Days of Harassment or 40 Days of Bigotry.â
He also saw the pamphlet as a reminder of the humanity of those who support and perform abortions.
âThe abortion industry is full of people who have minds and hearts and souls,â Carney said. âThatâs why weâve seen 69 abortion workers have conversions and leave their jobs.â
He characterized the prayers as an effort to ârationalize abortionâ that speaks in âvague terms.â
In Carneyâs view, abortion opponents âlook at the truth and the realityâ of the procedures.
âThere are a lot of sincere people who at one point supported abortion, for whatever reason, and are now in the pro-life movement,â he noted. âThe pro-life movement is made up of people who used to support abortion, of women who have had abortions, of doctors and nurses who worked in the abortion industry.â
While opponents of the pro-life movement have characterized its participants as against choice, Carney contended that pro-life advocates like 40 Days for Life participants give women options they would not otherwise have.
âWithout people out praying in front of these (abortion) facilities, there is no choice,â he said. âThere really is no choice unless you have somebody who, despite the heat or cold or rain, is willing to go out and offer a last-minute helping hand.â
Nearly 6,000 women have chosen life for their babies with the help of the pro-life campaign.
âSo many of them have told us they woke up that morning praying that God would send them a sign as they were going into the abortion facility,â Carney said.
Pro-life advocates âhave been that sign.â
Carney also rejected the pamphletâs insinuation that pro-life advocates shame women.
âThe people out on the front lines are the last hope for the baby, but theyâre also the first line of mercy. There isnât a follow-up appointment when you have an abortion. The abortion industry shames women themselves when they sell them an abortion and then theyâre done with them.
âIf you struggle emotionally, spiritually, physically, oftentimes after an abortion, theyâre just not there to help.â
He stressed the desire of 40 Days for Life to help women.
âThe pro-life movement isnât there to shame anyone, itâs quite the opposite. The loneliest spot in our nation is where a woman walks from the abortion clinic to her car. Itâs a basic obligation to be out there with her in her loneliness and offer help and offer support.â