LIFE DIGEST: 40 Days for Life saves lives
By Tom Strode
Oct 16, 2009


WASHINGTON (BP)--The nationwide 40 Days for Life initiative has received reports of scores of women choosing life for their unborn children and even abortion clinic workers leaving the business during its latest effort.

The 40 Days for Life campaign, which began Sept. 23, counted 123 babies saved from abortion less than a third of the way into the effort. Tens of thousands of people in 212 cities in the United States, Canada and Denmark will have participated in peaceful prayer vigils outside abortion clinics and Planned Parenthood offices when the outreach ends Nov. 1. Some participants also will have fasted and prayed for the end of abortion.

The initiative, which became a national movement two years ago, has produced reports of 1,561 children saved from abortion in four previous campaigns, according to 40 Days for Life.

David Bereit, national director of 40 Days for Life, reported Oct. 6 on an instance of the effort's impact:

Nearly 200 people were praying Oct. 3 outside a clinic in Manassas, Va., when a woman arrived for an abortion appointment. After some of the pro-lifers spoke to her, she went instead to a nearby pregnancy help center.

"The lady who was about to have the abortion told the counselor she started to shiver when she saw so many people praying," said Ken Groves of the 40 Days for Life effort in Manassas. "At that moment she said she felt God wanted her to have her baby."

In another incident, reported Oct. 5 by Bereit:

"Kristina and Michele in Syracuse [N.Y.] were praying in front of Planned Parenthood when two young women stopped to talk. One of the young women said she was pregnant and going to Planned Parenthood for an abortion.

"Instead, she was encouraged to visit a pro-life pregnancy resource center where she was offered a free ultrasound. 'Long story short,' said Kristina, 'the girl decided against having the abortion. Praise the Lord!'"

There also have been reports of clinic employees quitting, Bereit said:

"Angela of the 40 Days for Life team in [Granite City, Ill.] said the abortion facility nurse came out and hugged her. 'Thank you for praying for me,' she told Angela. 'Your witness has been powerful to me. This is my last day! I'm going off to do what real nurses should be doing.' With that, she walked to her car and drove away."

Information on the initiative and the locations of this fall's prayer vigils may be found online at www.40daysforlife.com.

ABORTION SUPPORT FALLS -- The American public continues to show a decline in its support for abortion rights.

A new survey of more than 4,000 adults found 47 percent said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, a drop of 7 percent since August 2008. Meanwhile, the poll showed 45 percent say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, an increase of 4 percent.

The results were similar to a survey of more than 1,500 adults in the spring.

Both nationwide surveys were performed by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press in conjunction with the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. The most recent poll, released Oct. 1, was conducted Aug. 11-27.

Since 1995, all surveys, with the exception of the two this year and an August 2001 poll, have shown a majority of Americans favor legal abortion, according to Pew.

While there was no apparent reason for the change in the public opinion, Pew suggested "the election of a pro-choice Democrat for president may be a contributing factor."

President Obama gained election to the White House in November despite a legislative record in support of abortion without restrictions. Although he has promoted abortion reduction, Obama has acted to overturn restrictions on funding abortions and organizations that promote and perform the procedures.

The survey showed the greatest decline in support for abortion was among Republicans, male Democrats and white Roman Catholics. The results demonstrated:

-- a 10 percent drop in support for legalized abortion among white, non-Hispanic Catholics who attend mass at least once a week.

-- a 9 percent decrease among Democratic men.

-- a 7 percent fall among Republicans.

A survey conducted in May by a partnership between the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men's organization, and the Marist Institute for Public Opinion found 49 percent of Americans describe themselves as pro-life, an increase of 5 percent since last October, and 48 percent identify themselves as pro-choice, a drop of 2 percent in that time span.

ULTRASOUND PIONEER DIES -- John Wild, 95, who pioneered ultrasound imaging, died Sept. 18.

A native of Great Britain, Wild passed away in Edina, Minn. He moved to Minnesota after World War II, and it was there he developed the ultrasound technique that is used in a variety of medical fields.

Ultrasound has been especially valuable to pregnancy care centers in helping women in crisis choose life for their unborn children.

"Ultrasound has been an irreplaceable tool that has helped women have a window into their womb and bond with their preborn children," said Kelly Rosati, senior director of Focus on the Family's Sanctity of Human Life department.

"An at-risk woman is twice as likely to choose life for her unborn child if she's had an ultrasound after counseling, versus just counseling," Rosati said, according to Focus on the Family's CitizenLink.

Focus on the Family and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) are among organizations that provide funding for ultrasound machines in pregnancy care centers. Information on the ERLC's ultrasound funding effort, known as the Psalm 139 Project, is available at www.psalm139project.org.

STEM CELLS AID HEART -- A procedure combining a mechanical heart and a man's own stem cells has saved the life of the dying patient, according to The Scotsman.

British surgeon Stephen Westaby, who performed the procedure on Ioannis Manolopoulos in Greece, said it represented the first time the treatments have been used together, the newspaper reported. The stem cells were extracted from the patient's bone marrow.

Manolopoulos had suffered at least two heart attacks and been in the hospital for four months, according to The Scotsman.

A mechanical heart normally is utilized to aid the heart of a person awaiting a transplant. The mechanical instrument, also described as a left ventricular assist device, redirected blood away from the chamber while the stem cells repaired Manolopoulos' damaged heart muscle, the report said.

"We hope the combination of stem cells and pumps will enable patients to enjoy life for many years," said Christos Papakonstantinou, a heart surgeon at the Thessaloniki hospital where the procedure occurred, The Scotsman reported.
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Tom Strode is Baptist Press Washington bureau chief.

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