40 Days for Life in Spain will hold a new prayer campaign from Sept. 28 to Nov. 6, and the pro-life outreach said on Twitter that participants are going into the campaign with the cry “the more they persecute us, the more we will embrace the Cross!”

Volunteers face for the first time the threat of jail time for praying in the vicinity of abortion centers and trying to help mothers choose life for their baby.

The first national conference of 40 Days for Life in Spain was held Sept. 10–11, several days prior to the launch of the fall campaign, with the theme “Persecution and Perseverance in the Mission.” The event was well attended.

The theme responds to the change in Spain’s Penal Code that went into effect last April, which provides a “prison sentence of three months to one year or community service for 31 to 80 days” for whomever according to the law undermines the freedom of mothers who go to an abortion center.

The Penal Code makes it a crime for the person who “in order to hinder the exercise of the right to voluntary interruption of pregnancy harasses a woman by annoying, offensive, intimidating, or coercive acts that undermine her freedom.”

Under the law, pro-lifers could be prosecuted without the allegedly offended person or their legal representative being required to file a complaint.

At the time of the law’s passage, Bárbara Royo, a criminal lawyer, told El Debate newspaper that “it’s difficult to guess how those who demonstrate with a banner in front of an abortion center can be convicted because their presence is not against any specific woman, but against a practice that for them, because of their beliefs, their ideology or their religion is not admissible.”

“Not to mention how the fact that a mere police report without a prior complaint from the possible victim could serve as a reason to penalize; it eliminates the basic principle that for there to be a crime there must be a specific victim, in this case a woman, who is the identifiable target of the coercion,” the lawyer pointed out.

The Bishop of Orihuela Alicante, José Ignacio Munilla, participated in the conference and addressed the threat posed by this law with a presentation titled “The Martyrs of Today.”

More in Europe

40 Days for Life said that the conference — in which leaders from Croatia, Germany, Colombia, and the United Kingdom participated — also served to “unite bridges between our brothers who are also in different parts of the world in the struggle for life.”

The director of international affairs for 40 Days for Life, Tomislav Cunovic, said that “Spain has the potential” to expand the movement.

“Spain is a Catholic country, with a Catholic Christian tradition, and if we aren’t going to have many vigils in Spain, where if not here?” Cunovic said, noting that Spain is “on the right track.”

Cunovic stressed that “it’s our task to raise our voices and pray, unite in prayer, and show that Spain is a pro-life society that accepts and loves life.”

The conference was also an opportunity to “improve coordination and collaboration between the different teams spread throughout 21 cities in Spain,” the campaign said.

40 Days for Life is an international organization of volunteers who pray for 40 consecutive days in nearly 600 cities around the world for the end of abortion.

On an international level, since 2007 the campaign has recorded more than 22,000 babies saved from abortion, 240 workers who have quit the industry, and 120 abortion centers that have closed.

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This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.