October 24, 2014

Speaker: ‘We are winning the war against abortion at the local level’

Shawn Carney, co-founder of the 40 Days for Life campaign to end abortion, speaks to a crowd outside of the Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Indianapolis. Carney was the guest speaker for the Indianapolis campaign’s mid-point rally on Oct. 10. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Shawn Carney, co-founder of the 40 Days for Life campaign to end abortion, speaks to a crowd outside of the Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Indianapolis. Carney was the guest speaker for the Indianapolis campaign’s mid-point rally on Oct. 10. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

In the drizzle and wind beneath bitter gray clouds, Shawn Carney gave folks a reason for joy.

“We are winning the war against abortion at the local level—we have to continue to remind ourselves of that,” he said.

Carney helped found the 40 Days for Life campaign, which seeks to abolish abortion through prayer and presence at abortion facilities for 40 days at a time twice a year. He spoke to campaign participants at the event campaign’s mid-point rally on Oct. 10 in front of the Planned Parenthood facility on the northwest side of Indianapolis, the state’s largest abortion provider, located at 86th Street and Georgetown Road.

He was invited by Eileen Hartman, executive director of the pro-life Great Lakes Gabriel Project, who brought the 40 Days for Life campaign to Indianapolis.

“I haven’t been here since the fall of 2009, which is five years ago,” Carney said. “This Planned Parenthood is so saddening nationally because it does half of the abortions in the entire state, and that’s rare across the country.”

In the 10 years since he helped start 40 days for Life in College Station, Texas, said Carney, the campaigns have expanded to 297 cities in 13 countries. Two campaigns are currently active in the archdiocese, in Bloomington and Indianapolis.

Below are excerpts from Carney’s talk, during which he spoke of his interactions with former Planned Parenthood abortion facility director-turned pro-life advocate Abby Johnson, of the impact 40 Days for Life campaign participants have, and of a campaign leader who discovered just how close to home her efforts were having an effect.

‘She saw the reality of the atrocities’

“The last time [I was here] was in 2009, which was five years ago. …

“I returned home and Abby Johnson was in my office the very next Monday. She had run the Planned Parenthood abortion center in College Station, Texas. That was the birthplace of the first-ever 40 Days for Life campaign back in 2004.

“Abby and I had known each other for eight years on opposite sides of the fence. We had both started volunteering at the same time for opposing organizations, she for Planned Parenthood and I for Coalition for Life. We had a cold, wrought iron black fence between us that Abby built to keep sidewalk counselors away from her facility. That’s what divided us for eight years.

“We both became directors of opposing organizations at the same time, and often did media interviews against each other’s points, [so it was a shock] to see her after I returned, weeping and broken, as broken a person as I’ve ever seen, after she was asked to assist with an ultrasound-guided abortion. For the first time, she witnessed her product and she saw the reality of the atrocities that … went on in her own Planned Parenthood abortion facility in College Station, Texas.”

Abortion no-show rate rises during campaigns

“At that time, she was the 26th abortion facility worker to have a change of heart and quit her job during a 40 Days for Life campaign. Just this last spring campaign, we saw the 100th abortion facility worker quit their job after experiencing a change of heart, and just during this fall 2014 campaign, we have already had two abortion facility workers quit their jobs.

“That is significant because they usually don’t quit until the end of the campaign. The first week we’re out here they just write us off. …

“By the third and fourth week of the campaign, after they see you in the rain and the cold, the attention goes off of you and inside the walls of the abortion facility, and they begin to reflect and question the reality of the work that they do.

“Because no matter how we word it or phrase it, an abortion is simply unsuccessful unless it ends the life of an innocent life. That is its end goal, and that is what it does 4,000 times every single day in this country that we love so dearly. That’s why it is worth us coming out in cold weather in Indiana … it is worthy of our time and our sacrifices. …

“Because she was a director, [Abby Johnson] was invited to private meetings in the abortion industry. One of the most encouraging things she ever told me—that Planned Parenthood … never shared with staff members and certainly never with the public or the media—was that the no-show rate for abortion appointments goes as high as 75 percent when people are out praying in front of a Planned Parenthood abortion facility. Which means that they never show up, they drive by and they see you, or maybe they drive by the day before their abortion appointment and they see you so they don’t come in.”

‘Winning … at the local level’

“No matter how hard it rains or how cold it gets, we cannot love these children who lose their lives a fraction of the amount that [God] does. Because he knows every single hair on our head, we know he does not forget one aborted child, and that’s why we come out here. We have to believe that women and men seeking abortion will come around. And we also have to believe and have confidence in the mercy of our Lord.

“If an abortion facility in southern California in a county that does 1,400 abortions a month can close, then Planned Parenthood in Indianapolis can close. That’s what we have to believe when we come out here—that it is not a waste of time. …

“The reality is that the abortion industry thrives at the local level, so the response has to be a local response. … When you are here, you represent hope, and you represent mercy, and the inside of this building survives on despair. It survives on fear. … You represent the many options that are offered to those women. … We are winning the war against abortion at the local level—we have to continue to remind ourselves of that.”

‘The first save … was her flesh and blood’

“This is about family, ultimately. We have to see these children as our brothers and sisters, and we have to see these men and women going in as our brothers and sisters.

“I always said that, but it didn’t really hit me until two years ago when [I spoke with] one of our leaders in Helena, Mont.

“Margaret was in her late 60s and near retirement. She wanted to lead the 40 Days for Life campaign because she had recently found out that her sister, whom she was very close to, had had five abortions throughout her life. It broke Margaret’s heart to think of the nieces and nephews that were not at Thanksgivings and Christmases all those years. …

“So she led five 40 Days for Life campaigns outside the Planned Parenthood in Helena. People were going out and praying, but they just weren’t seeing any results.

“One Saturday when she was not out there, she got a call from one of the volunteers on the campaign. And she said, ‘Margaret, a teenage mom just turned around and chose life for her baby!’ Margaret was ecstatic. …

“That consolation ended very quickly when she got a call just an hour later from her daughter saying that [Margaret’s] granddaughter had scheduled and had an abortion at a different location [than the Helena Planned Parenthood]. …

“Margaret went into a chapel and asked God for meaning in all of this, that it occurred all in one day.

“She went on about her day and then her daughter called. She was sort of frantic but excited. She said, ‘Mom, I wanted to tell you that she didn’t go to the other abortion facility. She went to the Planned Parenthood in Helena, but she saw people out there and decided to keep her child, so you’re going to be a great-grandmother!’

“Margaret then realized that the first save of her 40 Days for Life campaign was literally her flesh and blood, her great-grandson. …

“That’s how we need to see it, because that’s the reality in the eyes of God, that these are our brothers and sisters.”

(For more information on 40 Days for Life or to sign up to pray through the campaign, which runs through Nov. 2, log on to www.40daysforlife.com.)

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