COLUMBIA – Abortion rights opponents in Columbia will hold a rally Monday to kick off a national campaign against abortion.
The 40 Days for Life campaign will run from Sept. 23 to Nov. 1. Organizers are planning an event beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Monday at First Assembly of God, 1100 N. Seventh St.
The mission of the campaign, as stated on the 40 Days for Life Web site, is “to bring together the body of Christ in a spirit of unity during a focused 40 day campaign of prayer, fasting, and peaceful activism, with the purpose of repentance, to seek God’s favor to turn hearts and minds from a culture of death to a culture of life, thus bringing an end to abortion in America.”
The symbolism of 40 days is “a biblical thing,” said Kathy Forck, 60, of Columbia. Forck is an active member of the campaign. According to Forck, 40 days is a “pleasing interval.”
Campaigns will be taking place in more than 200 cities and 45 states. St. Louis and Columbia are the only cities participating in Missouri.
Local participants will be holding a vigil outside the Columbia Health Center, operated by Planned Parenthood, a clinic that provides abortion services. While some community members protest abortion outside Planned Parenthood on a regular basis, this is the first time Columbia residents will be participating in the campaign.
Forck said there was a similar campaign in St. Louis last February. After a friend invited her to come pray once a week in Columbia during that campaign's time frame, Forck chose to be more active the next time a national campaign began. “We can’t just stop. We have to stay here (outside of Planned Parenthood).”
The main difference between this campaign and any other day of vigil is that people will be outside Planned Parenthood 40 days in a row from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., Forck said.
Reports on the campaign's Web site indicate that since the national campaign began in fall 2007, 1,561 babies that would have otherwise been aborted were not as a result of the campaign’s efforts. The site also reports that 18 abortion workers have quit their jobs and three abortion facilities have shut down because of the campaign.
“We just invite everyone who’s been praying for the end of abortion but could never go down and see them (the clinic), we challenge them to come down,” Forck said. “All we want are prayers. We just encourage people of faith to come out here and stand up for the little ones that can’t stand up for themselves.”