On September 23, 40 Days for Life volunteers in 307 cities around the world will begin 40 days of prayer and fasting for an end to abortion. One of the brand-new locations is Bogota, Colombia.
40 Days for Life outreach intern Katharine Britton visited Colombia recently and met some of the people who, inspired by other 40 Days for Life campaigns, will be leading this outreach. Here's her account of her time there.
Margarita drove me into the Tuesquillo district of Bogot?, the capital city of Colombia, knowing that what I would see there would forever change my perspective on abortion. The area looks like many other city districts in South America. Spanish colonial-style buildings line the historic streets that are alive with street vendors, motorbikes, and people walking to and from work. However, upon a closer look, some anomalies begin to appear.
Almost every block in the district has three, four, or five buildings with large signs featuring pictures of babies and mothers. Most of the signs advertise ecograf?as?ultrasounds?and slogans such as "Conocer su babe antes del nacimiento"?Get to know your baby before birth. One of the largest buildings in the area is painted white with friendly light green shutters and door frames with a large sign that says ?Pro-Familia??Pro-Family.
The positive, inviting atmosphere began to quickly disintegrate when Margarita told me that every single one of those buildings that we had driven past was not a pre-natal clinic, but an abortion center. Within 10 blocks we passed no less than 75 of these ?clinics.? I began to notice men in bright yellow jackets standing on the street corners, passing out pamphlets to women who passed by and writing down the names of those women.
I asked Margarita what sort of advertisement they were doing. ?Those men,? she said, ?Are advertising abortion. They get a 10% commission for every abortion they refer.? Open-mouthed, I wondered how this was permitted in Colombia, where abortion is illegal in most cases.
Later, I spoke with a woman named Cristina who had gone undercover into one of these clinics, posing as a woman who thought she was pregnant.
?The man outside the door immediately began harassing me when I approached,? Cristina described, ?he touched my arm and asked me if I was pregnant. I hardly had time to answer before he led me strongly toward the door of the abortion center. They say that all this is in the name of women?s equal rights and health, but asking women personal health questions on the street is not equality and it is certainly not promoting woman?s free choice!?
Cristina continued her story. ?I went into that clinic and there were other women there for abortions. Their other children were running around and playing on the floor of the clinic. The irony of the situation was distressing.?
The abortion workers did the ultrasound on Cristina and obviously determined she was not pregnant, but Cristina told me what they would have done had she actually been pregnant. ?No matter how healthy your baby is, the workers do the ultrasound and tell the woman, ?Your baby is too small, it is not healthy. It will never have a good life. It will have so many problems. You should abort for your own health and well-being.? No matter what, they will tell the woman to abort. That is how they make their money.?
It should not have surprised me to learn that Pro-Familia is part of the International Planned Parenthood Federation.
Margarita drove me down one of the streets and parked her car in front of another abortion center. However, as I approached with a feeling of dread, Margarita explained that this was, in fact, not an abortion center, but a crisis pregnancy center that gives women the option of choosing life for her child.
The sign was cleverly designed to look just like the other clinics, so that many women wander in desperately, expecting another abortion center. Instead they find love, counseling, a chapel, and all the support they need to choose life for their child. 95% of the women who come into Margarita?s home choose life!
The Tuesquillo district is a place of death and despair for women and children. I witnessed many sobbing women getting into cabs with a friend or family member beside them, holding a Pro-Familia pamphlet in his or her hand. An estimated 29% of pregnancies in Colombia end in abortion?the highest rate in all of Latin America.
For this reason, the local Bogot? community is uniting for 40 days of prayer, fasting, and peaceful vigil outside the abortion clinics in the Tuesquillo district, beginning September 23, as part of the international 40 Days for Life campaign.
More than 50 pro-life groups, including Margarita?s pregnancy center, are uniting to change the Culture of Death through the 40 Days for Life campaign. It is their hope that through their efforts, women will be made aware that abortion is not the only option. Through their efforts, lawmakers will protect and strengthen pro-life laws. Colombia will begin to heal from the scourge of abortion.
? Katharine Britton, 40 Days for Life outreach intern