By Marnie McAllister, Record Assistant Editor
The effort, part of the national 40 Days for Life campaign, includes personal prayer and fasting plus commitments to keep peaceful vigil — praying the rosary — in front of the EMW Women’s Surgical Center in downtown Louisville.
About 950 volunteers are needed to ensure at least two people are present to keep the vigil from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. Organizers are still trying to find volunteers to fill time slots for the vigil. Individuals, organizations, school groups and faith communities are invited to take part.
Jenny Hutchinson, a member of the organizing team, said the effort is meant to be peaceful and prayerful. And those who keep vigil at the downtown abortion clinic must sign a “statement of peace.”
“We don’t see our job as condemning,” Hutchinson said. “Our purpose is to pray to change hearts and minds. We promise we will show compassion and show Christ’s love.”
The “statement of peace” includes “rules of conduct — to be respectful of the women going in, to be respectful of the clinic workers, to be respectful of the clinic escorts,” she explained.
“We don’t obstruct the sidewalk; we don’t litter. If we bring children we make sure they are closely monitored,” she said. “And if civil or local authorities come along, whether we’re right or wrong, our people are to cooperate with them. Our purpose down there is pursuing peaceful, prayerful solutions to the violence of abortion.”
The 40 Days for Life campaign is an ecumenical effort, though most participants in Louisville represent Catholic churches, Hutchinson said. Since Louisville began participating in 2008, more than three dozen Catholic churches in the Archdiocese of Louisville — from all parts of the archdiocese — have participated. Catholic churches in Southern Indiana also have been directly involved in the campaign here.
Hutchinson said it’s ideal to have at least two volunteers keeping vigil at a time. At some points during each day there may be large groups and at other times there may be just a handful of people.
She noted that some people may be hesitant to keep vigil at an abortion clinic. It’s a feeling she understands.
“It’s a scary thing for a lot of people to think of going down there (to the abortion clinic),” she said. “I was scared to death. We have this idea that it’s going to be confrontational. I just tell people, if it’s your first time, we usually get a member of the (organizing) team to go down with them.
“I have only experienced verbal attacks and I feel like I can take one for the team because I’m doing what God has asked of me,” she added.
More information is available at the campaign’s website, 40daysforlife.com/louisville. Hutchinson, the coordinator for Catholic parishes, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 897-3982.