All life is precious. For this reason, each fall and spring hundreds gather in front of abortion facilities in the Diocese of Venice praying that unborn children can be saved from the scourge that is abortion.
The 40 Days for Life fall campaign concluded on Nov. 6, 2022, with local efforts taking place in Sarasota and Fort Myers. The campaign began Sept. 28 but was delayed locally due to the arrival and impacts of Hurricane Ian.
Those impacts did not deter the prayer warriors who stood faithfully in front of the two Planned Parenthood abortion facilities as soon as it was safe, about a week after the storm at both sites. Sarasota 40 Days coordinator Rich Owens said people were in front of the downtown regional headquarters of Planned Parenthood the day the facility reopened after the hurricane. “We are here because that monstrosity is here.”
A peaceful, rather than confrontational, effort, the 40 Days for Life prayer campaign takes place in more than 1,000 cities across the United States and in 64 countries. The Diocese of Venice has participated since 2007, the year of the first national campaign. To date, 22,289 babies have been saved and 131 abortion centers have been closed.
Included in that number are four saves at the Sarasota location in just a few weeks. The saves, with the fourth was only recently confirmed, includes moms who come forward to thank the prayer warriors for their presence, which aided them in choosing life.
Many of the moms seeking help in the shadow of the abortion facility in Sarasota are directed to the neighboring Community Pregnancy Clinics (CPCI), a pro-life, free clinic that provides ultrasounds and extensive support for pregnant mothers. CPCI has medical offices in Naples, Fort Myers and Sarasota. In addition, CPCI has mobile clinics which visit rural communities, as well as college campuses, seeking to educate women and men about the pro-life options they have during an unexpected pregnancy.
During a closing vigil Jericho Walk on Nov. 5, Owens led a group of about 30 prayer warriors to rally and continue the fight to end abortion beyond the 40 days. The group circled the abortion facility, led by a banner which read “Viva Christo Rey – By Thy Power May Peace Come,” seven times. At the conclusion a horn blasted as everyone shouted in prayer, just as God told the Israelites in Joshua 6: 4-5, “On the seventh day march around the city seven times, and have the priests blow the horns. When they give a long blast on the ram’s horns and you hear the sound of the horn, all the people shall shout aloud. The wall of the city will collapse, and the people shall attack straight ahead.”
While the walls of the abortion facility did not collapse, the sounds of the prayer warriors resonated and will continue to do so long after the 40 Days fall campaign is concluded.
Owens said participation in the prayer vigil was less than in years past because many falsely believe the June 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade was the end of the battle for life. In reality, the court decision was “a good first step,” but Florida law still allows abortions up to 15 weeks.
“Until that is changed to conception, this fight is not over,” Owens said.
Owens vowed that each day the abortion facility in downtown Sarasota is open, the faithful prayer warriors will be out front praying and standing witness. This vigil takes place on Tuesdays and often several days each week, depending on the hours Planned Parenthood announces.
The 40 Days for Life spring campaign begins Feb. 22, 2023, and concludes on Palm Sunday, April 2.
To learn more about how you can help protect life from conception until natural death, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/respectlife.