While pro-lifers are often seen running prayer campaigns to stop abortions, one California group affiliated with Planned Parenthood has launched its own 40-day prayer in defense of abortions.
Started by the Humboldt County Clergy for Choice, a committee of the Six Rivers Planned Parenthood of Eureka, "40 Days of Prayer and Contemplation: Supporting Women Everywhere" has participants praying for "an end to the stigma perpetrated against women who have abortions" and giving "thanks … that abortion is still safe and legal."
The prayers for the 40 Days event come from the St. Louis based pro-choice organization Faith Aloud. The Rev. Rebecca Turner, executive director of Faith Aloud and author of the prayers, told The Christian Post that these prayers have been used by others before.
"The prayers were written more than four years ago and have been used by women's groups and clinics around the country throughout that time," said Turner.
Liberty Counsel, a pro-life organization, has taken issue with the merit of the 40 Days campaign that SRPP is overseeing. In a statement Tuesday, LC referred to the campaign as being offensive and a funding effort.
"Planned Parenthood is making another desperate attempt to regain positive attention and funding, as both have been slipping through their fingers," it stated.
"Planned Parenthood's attempts to develop a 'spiritual' aspect to the pro-abortion argument can seem comparable to the religious leaders in Germany who supported Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. It was wrong then and it is wrong now."
LC also argued that Planned Parenthood's "prayer crusade is an attempt to mock and marginalize the highly effective '40 Days for Life,' which has unified half a million voices for the cause and saved at least 5,838 lives."
"As a direct result of this prayer event, 22 abortion clinics have closed and 69 doctors have stopped performing abortion."
"40 Days for Life" is a community-based campaign that began in 2007, mobilizing people of faith and conscience to pray and fast in front of abortion clinics.
Dr. Alethea Roselyn Smith-Withers, chair of the Board of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, told CP that the pro-choice 40 Days campaign goes beyond the abortion issue.
"These prayers are about far more than access to abortion – they are prayers for the wholeness and health of women and girls, for families, for equality, for communities dedicated to justice for all," said Smith-Withers.
"The prayers express and demonstrate compassion for those who are, too often, marginalized and rendered voiceless and powerless."
Liberty Counsel, however, believes that the 40 Days campaign actually demeans women, specifically mothers and in utero females.
"Day 35 of the prayer campaign says, 'Today we pray for girls everywhere, that they may have every opportunity for education, sport, health, art, and vocation.' Ironically, this prayer excludes girls who are in utero," LC argued.
Clergy for Choice claims to "value all human life." "We believe that human life is holy," the group states on the Six Rivers Planned Parenthood website. "That's why we believe in your right to choose to be a parent or not."
The "40 Days of Prayer and Contemplation" began on March 18 and will conclude on April 27.