The 2020 40 Days for Life fall campaign launched Sept. 23, and to mark the occasion, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila joined a fervent group of others to pray a rosary outside of the Boulder Abortion Clinic.
Over 20 pro-lifers stood on the sidewalk outside of the clinic where Dr. Warren Hern conducts late-term abortions and peacefully prayed for an end to abortion and for the women who seek them. Archbishop Aquila offered a blessing for those in attendance and expressed his support and gratitude for those who were giving of their time to pray for the sanctity of life.
“We know that there are women who have previously worked in centers like this or even Planned Parenthood and who have had strong conversions and whose hearts have changed,” he said. “And so by the power of God, by the grace of God, by our constant prayer for these people, their hearts can be changed. They can come to know the truth. And with that, we see the mercy and forgiveness of the father and live as his children. And so it always gives me hope to see people that are willing to come out and witness for that truth.”
Many of the people in attendance regularly pray outside the clinic, including Sarah Volkman and Susan Gills, who help to organize the 40 Days for Life prayer vigils in Boulder. Those who pray on the sidewalk are accustomed to passersby shouting at them in opposition, though on this particular day, only two instances occurred. Even so, they remain undeterred, and Volkman said there are many opportunities to talk to people about the dignity of life.
“I get to communicate the message of life to people that otherwise wouldn’t engage in a conversation about it,” Volkman said. “I’ve had groups of adolescent girls that I talked to for 20 minutes. When you are a good listener, people listen to you.”
This year, the 40 Days for Life fall campaign is perhaps a bit more poignant in Colorado as voters have the chance to end late-term abortion in the state by voting “yes” on Proposition 115 in November. If passed, this would restrict abortions past the 22-week mark in Colorado and impose a penalty on the doctors who perform abortions past that point. No penalty would be imposed on the mother, and there is an exemption if the mother’s life is in danger.
Gills was involved in the signature-gathering efforts for Prop 115, and in doing so, she discovered something rather unexpected.
“What I found is a lot of the younger generation were willing to sign, and a lot in my generation were not,” she said.
Optimistically, Gills observed that “I think the trend is going more to pro life, especially when you think about a baby that’s 24-weeks gestational age. They’re viable. We spend millions of dollars saving those at hospitals around the Denver area. They can live. Ultrasounds have proven that point.”
“It’s pretty hard to argue that a 22-week-old fetus isn’t human or is dispensable because they look human,” Volkman said. “They have all the features of a human being. They move around, they make choices about where they want to be in the space of the womb. They’re obviously human and it’s impossible to deny that. That’s why I’m hoping that because of that viability and those obvious human characteristics, that people will have a really hard time voting against [Prop 115]. It’s a very reasonable proposition. It’s a step in the right direction.”
The media and society, and many politicians put out the lie and the false premise that Catholics only care about the unborn. That is not true. That is a total lie.”
Archbishop Aquila emphasized that caring for life goes beyond simply defending the unborn, and that the Catholic Church has many ministries and programs to help ensure women who are struggling with an unwanted pregnancy don’t feel alone or as though abortion is the only option.
“One of the things that is important in the passage of Proposition 115 is that there are many good people out in society who truly want to help women carry their children and who want to love the woman, want to love the unborn child and will help care for them not only through the pregnancy, but well after the pregnancy,” the archbishop said. “In many different ways, they serve those women who want to find jobs, who want to work, who want to give life to their children.
“The media and society, and many politicians put out the lie and the false premise that Catholics only care about the unborn. That is not true. That is a total lie,” he stressed. “We see that in some of the homes that exist. We see that in the Sisters of Life. We see that in Bella. We see that in Catholic Charities and in so many other different ways where we are supporting the child through pregnancy, birth and after birth. And so giving witness to that and offering women hope that they do not need to take a unique human being away from the world. We are willing to accompany them and to be with them and love them in that.”
As part of 40 Days for Life, Bishop Jorge H. Rodriguez will be celebrating two Masses at Planned Parenthood in Stapleton on Saturday, Oct. 3 at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Anybody is welcome to attend.
The 40 Days for Life fall campaign ends on Nov. 1. For more information and to find a local prayer vigil to attend, visit 40daysforlife.com/colorado.