As Christians around the world observe the earliest Lent season since 1913, pro-lifers in the United States will launch a 40-day fasting of their own kind in an effort to bring abortions to an end.
"40 Days for Life" begins its second nationwide pro-life campaign on Ash Wednesday with events planned in 59 cities in 31 states. From Feb. 6 to March 16, participants will be joining 40 days of prayer and fasting, of constant and peaceful vigils outside Planned Parenthood and other abortion centers, and of pro-life community outreach.
"When we conducted the first simultaneous, national 40 Days for Life campaign last fall, we were immediately approached by people who were so excited by this fresh new approach that they wanted to lead their own 40 Days for Life events in their own communities during 2008," said David Bereit, 40 Days for Life's national campaign director, in a statement.
"Almost every one of them pointed to the Lenten season as the ideal time to engage in prayer and fasting for an end to abortion. It's actually a perfect match," he added.
Also for the first time, pro-lifers outside the country will be joining this season's 40 Days for Life. The campaign is scheduled to be conducted in Ireland and Brazil alongside America.
According to Bereit, the first nationwide 40-day campaign in September 2007 had a "marked impact" on Planned Parenthood. A leading provider of abortions, Planned Parenthood reportedly circulated e-mail alerts to abortion advocates around the country, calling for financial help to fight back against the pro-life campaign.
"We know from past experience that these rallies and prayer vigils create barriers that deter our patients from fulfilling their basic health care needs," said Chris Charbonneau, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Western Washington, during last fall's 40-day campaign.
"Women should be able to get birth control, cancer screenings and HIV tests without being harassed or intimidated," he continued. "Thankfully, our local supporters have rallied to help diminish this unreasonable intrusion on individual rights."
Organizers of the 2008 campaign say this effort comes at a crucial time when the tide seems to be shifting against abortion. The March for Life campaign on Jan. 22 involved droves of young people, revealing that America's young generation is not primarily pro-choice as many have speculated. Also, the latest study released by the Guttmacher Institute found that the abortion rate in the country has fallen to its lowest point in more than 30 years, and the actual number of abortions continues to decline steadily.
"The tide is clearly shifting in favor of life, and we must seize the initiative at this vital moment to finish the job we've started," stated organizers on the 40 Days for Life Web site.
"We now know that faithful people across the country see the value of uniting together in one common purpose: ending the tragedy of abortion," said Bereit. "We look forward to seeing how this new national outpouring will help lead more communities to turn away from abortion."