A small group of men from Wetaskiwin are taking an active stance against abortion.
Their intention, beginning Feb. 19 and continuing every Tuesday morning throughout Lent, is to pray the rosary outside of Women's Health Options, formerly known as the Morgentaler Clinic.
Through the weekly prayer vigils, their hope is that men and women will reconsider their decisions to have an abortion. They also pray for them to make life-affirming choices.
"We are calling all men, especially from the Archdiocese of Edmonton, to come out and join us at 6 in the morning every Tuesday during Lent," said George Chrunik, who conceived the idea after speaking with Deacon Leo Farley.
Three men were there the first morning, and Chrunik was anticipating more men each Tuesday. With the originators all living and working in Wetaskiwin, about an hour's drive away from the Edmonton abortion clinic, their early start is necessary.
"The only way this whole abortion issue is going to be changed in any way is if men really step up to the plate and start supporting their wives," said Chrunik.
Many women are unaware of the risks of having an abortion, such as post-abortion syndrome and their increased chances of breast cancer.
More than 5,000 abortions are performed each year at Women's Health Options. Chrunik knows that with unplanned pregnancies, the women have other options, including agencies such as the Back Porch, Pregnancy Care Centre, Pregnancy Crisis Centre and the Stepping Stones program, an organization that assists pregnant and parenting teens.
Although the men cannot see firsthand what their efforts are doing, they have faith that their prayers are making a positive difference. Their approach is that God has not necessarily called them to be successful, but he has called them to be faithful.
Given their early start in the morning, around 6 a.m., aside from a mail carrier, the men have not had seen any passersby. Their presence has received no direct response.
However, in previous excursions to the abortion clinic, Chrunik has witnessed men dropping off their pregnant wives, girlfriends or common-law partners for abortions.
"Those men have no idea what is going on. It's a complacency that is really sad," he said.
Chrunik said one time he saw a young couple drive up. A woman exited the car and went into the clinic by herself, while the man waited in the car, not supporting her in any manner, not protecting her, not doing anything to be a true man.
Later, he saw the woman leaving the abortion clinic with a yellow envelope that presumably contained post-abortive instructions. The woman looked pale, walked slowly and her trauma was evident.
"We have men that go into birthing rooms. We are there to support and bring in new life. If you're really supportive, why aren't you in that abortion clinic? Why aren't you watching that procedure?" asked Chrunik, noting that it's shameful for men to simply hide outside.
Chrunik is convinced that more men must be "the brave knights in shining armour" who stand up against abortion. They must be stalwart, steadfast and chivalrous in their approach to the pro-life issue.
"The only way things are going to change is if men really start to wake up, and if men start to be the soldiers, be the protectors, and be the supporters that they are supposed to be," said Chrunik.
Meanwhile, the 40 Days for Life, an annual pro-life campaign, also began in Edmonton on Feb. 13 with a group of prayer warriors at the vigil. It runs a daily 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. schedule.
40 Days for Life is a community-based Lenten campaign that draws attention to the tragedy of abortion through prayer and fasting, 12-hour peaceful prayer vigil, and community outreach.
While parishioners from Sacred Heart Parish in Wetaskiwin participate actively in 40 Days for Life, an annual campaign, Chrunik stressed that the men praying at the abortion clinic is a different endeavour.