WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
Local pro-lifers, adults and children alike, prayed and proclaimed their message across from Women's Health Options, an abortion clinic.
EDMONTON – Mena Jewell found it "kind of creepy" to be standing across the street from the Women's Health Options abortion clinic but she said maybe it's the right thing to do.
"When we stand here people will say 'Why are all these people standing there looking at that building. Are they on strike?'" the Edmonton woman said, trembling from the cold.
"I didn't know this building was here. It looks so calm and nice from the outside and inside the most horrible things are happening."
Jewell was one of more than 30 people, many of them mothers with young children, who took part in the 40 Days for Life campaign Nov. 4 from 4 to 6 p.m.
Candice Tucci brought her four children, despite the bitter cold. "We came to pray to end abortion and show that we love life with our children," she said.
"This made it more real for me for the fact I saw many people going in and out of the abortion clinic just like it was a Tim Hortons and that disturbed me very much."
Tucci and her children first attended the demonstration on Nov. 1. "That Tuesday the police were called, which I was thrilled with because we were making a difference. So that's why we are here again today."
Added Tucci: "We are thankful that when we homeschool we are able to teach the children and really show the value of life. Because we homeschool, we are able to come and pray during the day. And if weather permits, this won't be our last time."
Campaign coordinator April Madden described the campaign as successful.
"I believe there have been over 400 babies globally spared from abortion during this campaign alone, which is taking place in 301 cities around the world," Madden said.
"With us being here, having this prayerful presence, we are affecting the consciousness of every person who comes into this clinic, even the people who pass by.
"We are creating this awareness that this evil exists in our community and that you can do something to change it from a culture of death to a culture of life through prayer and through fasting and through constant vigil, which is what we are doing from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the 40 days."
During the 40-day campaign, which officially ended Nov. 6, people signed up for an hour to four hours and then came to pray across the street from the abortion clinic, holding signs denouncing abortion.
Prayer groups come out as well as family groups. Some Catholic parishes signed up for a full day.
The campaign will be held again during Lent and will extend to other religious denominations.
An average of four to five people an hour prayed across from the clinic during the 40 days. But on Nov. 4 there was a crowd.
"We kind of spread the word to get a lot of people here between 4 and 6 p.m., so we can be here during the hour that they close the clinic, which is 5 o'clock," explained Madden.
"We had some interesting encounters with the (clinic) staff as they come out and it's nice to be able to share our message with them, knowing that they are in this industry."
Protesters can't talk to clinic staff because there is a court-enforced bubble zone around the clinic preventing them from doing so.
"The whole purpose of this campaign is to be silent and prayerful so we are just standing here and praying," Madden said. "Some people pray the rosary; others have their own prayers that they say."
As they left the clinic, staff would hide their faces or walk by giving protesters dirty looks, she said.
"Others would just leave unfazed (by what's going on). Ultimately we hope that we've made some type of impact on them."
The campaign coordinator said it is possible to change the minds of abortion workers. "There are 42 abortion industry workers who have left the industry as a direct result of the 40 Days for Life campaign," she said.
"When we are standing here, we are not just praying for the women and the children whose lives will be taken by abortion; we are praying for the workers to leave the industry, to see the light, to read our messages in our signs and to see us pray and to know that there is another choice."