We are more than halfway through the 40 Days for Life campaign. If you don't know what that is, go here: http://www.40daysforlife.com/
I get the daily updates and devotionals for the campaign, and though there is not an abortion clinic or a 40 Days vigil near where I live, I try to reflect and pray using their devotion every day. One thing I noticed this time around was the variety of faiths being represented in the devotionals. There have been Baptist preachers, Presbyterian pastors, Lutheran, and I believe Jewish. I know that all these different faiths have participated before, but this is the first time I have seen such a variety actually writing the devotionals.
I am amazed when I look back at how 40 Days for Life started. I had a very small, almost indirect, part in that first 40 days. I was a freshman in college at Texas A&M, and I learned about it through our campus student organization Aggies for Life. I wore the bracelet and I prayed a few hours on the sidewalk. Little did I know what a powerful fire was sparking. Now when I read about the history of 40 Days for Life, I just can't help but praise God for his grace. Just a few strong-hearted people sitting around a table decided they would try it, and look where it has gone!
Really and truly, they have sparked a revolution in the pro-life movement (coinciding with--yes, another God thing--the expansion of Live Action and their undercover videos that have exposed Planned Parenthood for its lies and helped to reduce funding, and all the incredible pro-life laws passed with encouragement from Americans United for Life). I don't think I am prejudiced when I say Catholics have tended to be the sole outspoken voice against abortion through the decades. But now, with this resurgence of passion for the pro-life movement, we have ecumenical movement. People of all different faith backgrounds, and even atheists, are coming together to fight this war. How beautiful is that?
Those on the other side of the argument probably despise 40 Days for Life because of their success in simply standing and praying. We give no reason for people to throw insults at us or try to demean us because we are simply present and encouraging. I'm sure that's infuriating. But perhaps the most infuriating thing that 40 Days for Life does is save lives. I don't mean that most pro-choicers want babies to be killed (although I would argue that Planned Parenthood as an organization does because that means they make more money). Many pro-choicers want abortion to be rare but always a "safe" option. But when 40 Days for Life prevents a woman from choosing abortion (according to their records, 6,749 babies have been saved), and a child is born, how can they argue against that? And it's not just that a baby is saved, but so many reports demonstrate the relief these women who choose life feel, and how they have been helped through their struggles by pregnancy help centers. To fight against an organization that saves both the actual life of the child and the emotional/social/psychological life of the mother would be anti-human. Could they really say that they wish 40 Days for Life hadn't been there and the baby would have been aborted? Is that really better?
We can argue the philosophy, the prioritization of rights, even the "viability" of the child. We can argue about a woman's choice over her own body. But when a woman makes the choice for life, when life wins out over death, we can't argue (not unless we truly believed some people deserve not to live, or would be better off not living, regardless of the woman's choice. And if that's the case, then we are in very different territory than simply reproductive rights.).
So 40 days for Life is a simple concept: stand peacefully at vigil and pray. Maybe even fast. Be there for women when they feel most vulnerable. And, through it all, bring many, many faiths together fighting for the cause of life, and save the lives of children and women! Do it all through, with, and in Christ.