HARTFORD – More than 75 people gathered outside the Hartford GYN Center Nov. 4 to celebrate the saving of eight babies spared from abortion there during the just-completed 40 Days for Life campaign in the Archdiocese of Hartford, said Mary Lou Peters, campaign director and assistant coordinator of the archdiocesan Pro-Life Ministry.
Eight is the confirmed number of babies saved, but, said Mrs. Peters, "We are pretty sure that there are more; we just can’t document those. From past history, we know that people come back and tell us that they drove up and saw us [praying outside the abortion clinic] and then they drove away" without having an abortion.
The 40 Days for Life campaign began as a local event in Bryan/College Station, Texas, in 2004 and went national in 2007. The Hartford Archdiocese joined the cause in 2008 and has now completed five campaigns that have saved at least 60 babies, Mrs. Peters said. More than 800 babies have been saved nationwide since 2007, according to the Web site, www.40daysforlife.com.
The local effort was coordinated with the national campaign and timed to end just before the election, to raise awareness of critical life issues raised during the election season.
"Over 100 parishes and organizations participated this year, from all corners of the archdiocese," Mrs. Peters said. She estimated that several thousand people were involved, either by praying outside the abortion clinic during the daily 12-hour vigils or through eucharistic adoration at parishes.
In addition to parishes, organizations like the Knights of Columbus, the Family Institute of Connecticut, the Franciscan Apprentices, two Baptist churches, a Methodist church and members of the Jewish community participated, she said.
She said that there was about a 10 percent increase in parish participation this year and about a 50 percent increase in eucharistic adoration.
Just before the 40 Days for Life campaign began here on Sept. 26, Pro-Life Activities director Father Robert Rousseau blessed the traffic island at the intersection of Main, Maple and Jefferson streets, where people gather to pray outside the Hartford GYN Center.
"Many people commented this time that they felt there was a different aura there, that it was, I would say, our most positive campaign," Mrs. Peters said. "I attributed it to the blessing that Father Rousseau gave."
At the closing ceremony, people clutched red roses, a symbol of life, and prayed and sang life-affirming songs, she said.
The Diocese of Bridgeport will hold a 40 Days for Life campaign in the spring, coinciding with Lent, and many people from the Archdiocese of Hartford are expected to take part in that, Mrs. Peters said. Meanwhile, there are many things people can do to advance the cause of life:
"Continue to pray, of course, because that is the bedrock of this campaign," she said. "The second thing would be to continue to go and pray outside the abortion clinic in Hartford, because people do go there to pray on an ongoing basis."
In addition, the annual March for Life in Washington in January will mark the 40th anniversary of Roe V. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion. As usual, the Pro-Life Ministry will sponsor an overnight pilgrimage from its Meriden offices. Buses will leave 271 Finch Ave. early on the morning of Jan. 24 and return in the evening of Jan. 25. For information, call (203) 639-0833.