By: Kaitlynn Williams, Campaign Director, 40 Days for Life Tucson and high school student
If you’ve never been to Tucson, you might imagine that it is just as pro-life as the rest of Arizona. However, this is not so true, and the pro-life community there is relatively small. However, when my small group of high school students, XXX, decided to try and lead a 40 Days for Life campaign, our community responded – many of whom had never been involved in the pro-life movement before.
After a few years of Tucson lacking an official 40 Days for Life campaign, my group and I decided to go for it. We wanted to do it last fall, but it did not work. However, it turned out that this spring was actually the earliest we’d be allowed to lead a campaign due to the requirements put out by the 40 Days for Life national team. So despite the projected small participation, we decided to sign up to lead the campaign and begin reaching out to the community via a newfound network of volunteers. So far, we’ve had people praying outside the abortion facility every day – something that hasn’t happened here for quite some time, if ever.
Last week, it became so worth it. On Friday, when a group of volunteers were praying outside of the facility, a young woman pulled up in a car and parked – in the wrong parking lot. You see, there’s two main parking lots connected to the abortion facility in Tucson – one is far beyond our reach and within private property and the other is within feet of our vigil location. However, for that very reason, women are told not to park there. Yet, for some reason, she did. She got out of the car and looked anxious. We asked her if she was there for an abortion and she said yes. She was 16 weeks pregnant, and her boyfriend told her she had to get an abortion. After we informed her that no one could force her to have an abortion, we gave her information about our local pro-life pregnancy resource centers. After gladly reviewing her new found options, the woman declared she would not follow through with her abortion appointment – and so a life was saved.
This one save makes all the difference. If, throughout the entire campaign, nothing else seems to come, this one life makes it all worth it – and all because she chose the wrong parking lot and met some courageous 40 Days for Life prayer warriors.
40 Days for Life isn’t all our group is involved in, however, and since last year, we have established an annual event called the “I Stand with the Voiceless” Awareness Campaign. Planned Parenthood Tucson is not overly active, and in fact pretty much the only event they hold consistently is their annual “I Stand with Planned Parenthood” fundraiser luncheon – this year, their goal was to raise money to help them elect a pro-abortion governor and other pro-abortion legislators in the upcoming elections. So, armed with our pro-life signs and our materials exposing the truth about Planned Parenthood provided to us by Students for Life, we went downtown to the scene of the fundraiser. Surprisingly, the luncheon attendees were not overjoyed to see us, but in between the spitefully worded comments shouted out rolled-down car windows that “Planned Parenthood would be there for us when we needed them” (I’m sure she was assuming I’d one day need someone to lie to me and make profit off of me) and the stern rhetorical questions of, “Why don’t you just shut up?,” we had the opportunity to speak with strangers walking down the busy downtown street.
Some of these strangers were post-abortive women who opened up at the chance to share their story to a loving audience. Some came into the conversation with an open mind and hopes to be persuaded one way or another asking, “Okay, who wants to talk to me and tell me what you’re about?” Another man, however, started the conversation with no effort to hide his preconceived notions. He wanted to know why on earth we’d be against abortion, and what was so wrong with us that we would be led to protest Planned Parenthood? After all, he commented, abortion is just a tiny part of their overall business of helping women. Yet, as the conversation continued, questions were asked, and every issue from abortion to the racist foundations of Planned Parenthood was covered, the change was evident. The levels of mutual respect steadily increased and by the end of the conversation, after providing the man with a booklet about the truth behind Planned Parenthood, the man remarked that if he didn’t have to go on to the next thing in his day, he’d have joined us in our protest.
When you take a stand for life, you never know who you’ll meet or what lives you’ll touch. You simply must take that leap of courage and be there in the middle of all the controversy and stand up for what you know to be true and for what you know to matter. You won’t be able to save every life that is in danger of abortion, and you won’t be able to stop every woman from making a choice she’ll regret for the rest of her life. You won’t be able to convince every person who passes you by as you hold a peaceful pro-life demonstration outside a Planned Parenthood fundraiser. Yet, that one life you do save, that woman you do stop, and that one stranger you do persuade makes all the difference – both now and in the unforeseen future. All we have to do is be there.