WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
April Madden, right, is joined by her son Myles, left, and women from Camrose in praying across the street from the abortion clinic for the lives of the unborn.
Hundreds of people in the Edmonton region took the time to make a difference in the struggle against abortion during the past 40 days.
Holding up signs with anti-abortions slogans, participants took turns each day to pray for an end to abortion across from the abortion clinic at 109A Avenue and 124th Street.
Few people showed up for the closing rally Nov. 2 but organizer April Madden said the 40 Days for Life campaign met its goal of warning women and passersby that abortion is wrong.
The aim of the campaign, Madden said, is to share the message that all life is precious and there is a choice. She said most women that go into the clinic do so because they have been deceived.
During the campaign, she said, volunteers witnessed at least two women who came to the abortion clinic and decided to keep their babies.
Despite the bitter cold, Gail Schulte and Clara Lohner of Camrose spent hours holding signs and praying the rosary while watching clinic patrons go in and out of the facility. They had first come Oct. 10 with a group of six women from St. Francis Xavier Parish.
"We felt our very small pro-life group needed to do something like this. And to get a little bit more interest from our parishioners, we volunteered to bring people," Schulte explained.
"I think coming here has made people in our parish more aware. There were people who didn't know there was an abortion clinic in Edmonton. Now they know because they have seen it."
Schulte said the overall goal of the campaign is to end abortion.
"Prayer is a powerful way to change hearts and minds," she said as she held the 'rosary for life' in her hands. Each bead in the rosary has an image of a pre-born child.
Lohner said it is time for change in attitude. "I really would like to see everybody respecting life and recognizing the unborn." Lohner has eight grandchildren and said she wouldn't want children like them to be terminated.
Schulte has two grandchildren, including a two-and-a-half-year-old with cerebral palsy. "I think when we are so willing to abort the unborn what's then to stop us from doing away with disabled babies like my grandchild?"
Madden said an average of two people per hour came to pray between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. during the duration of the campaign.
Representatives of groups like the Families of Nazareth, St. Vital Parish in Beaumont, the Ukrainian and Roman Catholic Women's League and the Knights of Columbus came out to pray and hold signs during the 40 days.
The Lenten campaign was busier with about 12 churches sending volunteers for the whole day. "During our winter campaign nobody wants to come out as much in the cold," Madden noted.
Nevertheless, Madden reported that the 40 Days for Life campaign claims that about 576 women in about 300 locations worldwide changed their minds and decided against having an abortion after seeing the volunteers standing across the clinics praying.
"These are the ones we just know about but while we are standing here praying we have volunteers telling us about cars that drive by, people that go in, people that stay in there a few minutes and then leave and drive away and don't come back."
Madden mentioned the case of a pregnant woman who came to the Edmonton abortion clinic early on Nov. 2 and decided to keep her baby.
"There was another woman who was pregnant with twins who (also) decided to keep her babies. We don't know whether it was related to us being here but we would like to think our presence helps to persuade a few people to choose life."
Volunteers also witnessed hostility towards them from passersby. Madden recalls an incident where someone threw rocks at her while she stood peacefully praying across from the clinic.
"Some people would drive by and shout profanities at you. That's about as bad as it gets."
Lack of volunteers is another major problem, especially during the winter campaigns. Organizers need at least 24 people per day to keep the campaign going. The next 40 Days for Life campaign will take place next year during Lent.