Praying in front of an abortion center is hard.
We're all busy people, so praying on the sidewalks with 40 Days for Life is rarely convenient. And it's not always popular. In fact, we can pretty much guarantee when we sign up for a vigil hour that we'll be heckled by at least a few passersby.
"Get a life!" one yells, apparently blind to the irony of the insult. Another shouts, "Why don't you do something to help children who have been born?"
Insults like these are never clever, but in a sense we can agree with the second one. We'd all prefer volunteering our time in some other capacity. We all look forward to the day when the injustice of abortion has ended so that we have more time to serve the needy in our community. After all, nobody's ever been shown the middle finger for volunteering in a soup kitchen or cursed at for ringing the bell for the Salvation Army at Christmastime.
But ultimately, it's not the inconvenience nor the insults that make it difficult to pray at an abortion center. It's the knowledge that when we're at the abortion center, we'll witness woman after woman walk through the doors to make the very worst decision of her life. A decision that will end her child's life. A decision she'll regret for the rest of her life.
That bitter truth is exemplified by the three vehicles NOBODY wants to see at the abortion center.
1. The armored car
Planned Parenthood and its executives would like you to think the abortion giant is a charity. In fact, the organization's executives routinely suggest that public funding of Planned Parenthood is the only way for poor women to access health care.
In reality, Planned Parenthood's services are quite limited. Contrary to claims by CEO Cecile Richards, not a single Planned Parenthood affiliate provides mammograms. Furthermore, abortion comprises 94 percent of its pregnancy services.
Nor is it true that Planned Parenthood's services are free. Abby Johnson has written that when she worked at Planned Parenthood, her center charged $31 for a pregnancy test that cost 25 cents. In addition to receiving $1.4 million EVERY DAY from the government, it's also charging clients a significant amount of money.
Perhaps that's why Planned Parenthood executives find themselves among the wealthiest one percent of Americans, and Cecile Richards makes more than a half million dollars per year.
Lavish salaries might seem surprising for an organization that bills itself as a charity. But they aren't quite as shocking to pro-life prayer warriors who see armored cars transport large sums of cash. Each of these armored cars provides a sobering reminder that--despite public relations campaigns designed to convince you otherwise--Planned Parenthood is a big, billion-dollar business
2. The medical waste truck
The abortion industry depends on clever manipulation of language to obscure the tragic reality of abortion. "We're not pro-abortion," they claim. "We're pro-choice." Of course, every evil act involves a choice. Terms like reproductive rights, pregnancy tissue and products of conception are all terms designed to obscure from the public the troubling fact that abortion kills a human being.
There's a reason why Planned Parenthood doesn't refer to its facilities as abortion centers: almost nobody likes abortion--including people who consider themselves pro-choice. Instead, Planned Parenthood labels its facilities health centers in spite of the fact that health care is designed to restore the proper functioning of the human body--not to break it.
But the deceptions perpetuated by the abortion industry fade away when the medical waste truck arrives to remove the bodies of children whose lives are lost to abortion. In the 40 Days for Life book, Shawn Carney tells of praying with a college student who saw the medical waste truck remove the bodies of 24 aborted babies during his very first hour of prayer in front of an abortion center:
John fell silent. He appeared stunned at first, and then his expression slowly changed to deep sadness....This young, powerful, six-foot-three-inch man bowed his head and began to weep. Through his tears, he quietly said, "I can't believe this goes on in America."
A few minutes later, we watched the driver of the truck exit the building carrying two silver, cylindrical canisters that held the bodies of twenty-four babies--human beings who had now become no more than statistics in the eyes of the world. Or a disposal problem. But to the brawny, big-hearted college kid by my side, they were lost brothers and sisters.
3. The ambulance
The ambulance is probably the most disturbing of vehicles we encounter at the abortion facility. When we see an ambulance, we know that not only has a baby perished far too soon, but the mother is now in serious danger.
During the first 40 Days for Life campaign of 2015, we received numerous reports of ambulances arriving at abortion centers. Some of these abortion facilities are no strangers to botched abortions.
A few years ago, my local abortion clinic in Madison, Wisconsin, scaled back its provision of late-term abortions. Internal communications revealed that Planned Parenthood had low confidence in its ability to perform them. Even so, we have still seen ambulances arrive to transport injured women--on consecutive days!
Dan Miller, the long-time campaign leader in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, reported that the local abortion center has arrangements to work with a private ambulance company to ensure that recordings or transcripts of 911 calls will not be made available via open records requests.
When we encounter these three vehicles that nobody wants to see at an abortion center, our hearts break. But amidst the pain we experience, we also rejoice at the victories God provides. And with the help of 40 Days for Life prayer warriors around the world, we've seen some incredible victories since 2007:
- 118 abortion workers have experienced conversions, left their jobs, and refused to collect the money made off the death of children.
- More than 10,000 children who very nearly ended up in the medical waste truck are alive and well.
- Prayer warriors and ambulance drivers alike no longer need to visit 60 abortion centers that have closed their doors once and for all following a 40 Days for Life campaign.
As John's Gospel reminds us, "The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" (John 1:5).