National 40 Days for Life leader visits Pittsburgh

Friday, November 02, 2018 - Updated: 11:23 am

By JOHN FRANKO Staff Writer

There is much to be hopeful about in the fight against abortion, said Shawn Carney, president and CEO of 40 Days for Life. There have been 45 years of legal abortion in the United States, he noted, and yet abortion providers today are as uncomfortable with the pro-life movement as they have ever been.

“You can’t justify the unjustifiable,” he said.

Carney led a prayer vigil outside the Planned Parenthood facility on Liberty Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh Oct. 22, then addressed 40 Days for Life supporters at the nearby offices of Catholic Charities. The gathering came as part of the current pro-life campaign that will end Nov. 4.

40 Days for Life is an international religious-based pro-life advocacy group that campaigns against abortion in more than 20 countries worldwide. It was founded in Texas in 2004. Its efforts center around two 40-day campaigns — one in the fall and the other during Lent.

Carney pointed out that some 414 cities around the world are in the midst of the current campaign. They include Hong Kong, Moscow and Bogota, Colombia. It is a testament, he noted, of how other countries look to the United States when it comes to the abortion issue.

“America is the leader against abortion,” Carney said. “Make no mistake.”

The U.S. offers hope to people around the world, he said. Planned Parenthood facilities are on the decline, with some 98 having closed nationwide in recent years. And only 8 percent of counties in the country have abortion facilities.

When people see pro-life supporters praying in front of facilities, Carney said, it often makes them reflect on what is going on inside. “You have no idea of the impact you make,” he said.

Whether it is just two people or 50, it makes a difference, Carney added, pointing out that the no-show rate for abortion clients can be as high as 75 percent when there are people praying in front of a facility. And even when women go inside, he noted, “the one guarantee is that we can be there in solidarity with those babies as they lose their life.”

Carney offered a number of powerful examples of how the pro-life movement is affecting the abortion industry, including abortion doctors who quit their jobs after realizing that they were committing horrific acts. Many volunteers at clinics, he noted, simply get tired of encountering pro-lifers and walk away.

“We get to be the voice in the midst of darkness,” Carney said.

While Planned Parenthood has the appearance of being strong at its upper levels, he said, the pro-life movement has access to its weakest points at the local level. It is there that groups such as 40 Days for Life are making a big impact. Planned Parenthood has begun to abandon urban locations for suburban ones because they attract less attention, he said.

“There is more momentum in the pro-life movement than there has ever been,” Carney said.

He recognized Nikki Bruni, local director of 40 Days for Life, for her strong leadership in organizing efforts in the Pittsburgh area.

Bruni has coordinated 17 campaigns in the past nine years. She praised Carney for his leadership, adding, “God has got his hand on him.”

Anywhere from 500-800 people have been active in the campaign, Bruni said. She noted the appearance of Bishop David Zubik at an Oct. 4 prayer vigil outside Planned Parenthood. Later, she said, a woman who had come to the clinic for a procedure left after changing her mind.

Bruni spoke of the powerful witness of “Gosnell,” which documents the story of Kermit Barron Gosnell, a former physician and abortionist who was convicted of murdering three babies born alive during abortion procedures and a woman who died during one. It led to Pennsylvania passing S.B. 732, which holds abortion clinics to the same standards as other outpatient surgical centers.

Another powerful witness, Bruni noted, is “Unplanned,” a book that tells the story of Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood director who joined the pro-life movement after watching an abortion on ultrasound. The story is set to be released as a movie under the same name next spring.

More information on 40 Days for Life is available at 40daysforlifepittsburgh.com.

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