‘40 Days for Life’ welcomes co-founder Shawn Carney Feb. 16

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Marisol Garcia, second from left, and her children Lexani and Alexzander Diaz, attend a prayer vigil Nov. 4 outside a clinic that performs abortions in Green Bay, Wis. The parishioners of St. Willebrord Church joined other pro-life advocates at the end of the 40 Days for Life campaign, an annual national observance to pray and campaign for an end to abortion. (CNS photo/Sam Lucero, The Compass)
Marisol Garcia, second from left, and her children Lexani and Alexzander Diaz, attend a prayer vigil Nov. 4 outside a clinic that performs abortions in Green Bay, Wis. The parishioners of St. Willebrord Church joined other pro-life advocates at the end of the 40 Days for Life campaign, an annual national observance to pray and campaign for an end to abortion. (CNS photo/Sam Lucero, The Compass)

What would it take to end abortion? One of the co-founders of 40 Days for Life will address that and more Feb. 16 at St. Mary’s Basilica.

The twice-yearly, international prayer campaign launches Feb. 18 and Shawn Carney will be on hand in Phoenix ahead of that to help motivate pro-lifers.

Ellen Sweeney, who has been involved in the pro-life movement for decades, said Carney was at the prayer meeting in College Station, Texas, when 40 Days for Life initially took root in 2004. The campaigns are now in 559 cities and 27 countries.

“You have to believe this is of God,” Sweeney said. “Just look at the numbers.”

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40 Days for Life

When: 6:30 p.m., Feb. 16
Where: St. Mary’s Basilica, 231 N. 3rd St., Phoenix

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The 40 Days for Life website states that since the movement’s first campaign in 2004, 59 abortion clinics have closed, 107 abortion workers have quit and at least 9,699 babies have been saved.

Abby Johnson, who once directed a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas, said she quit her job because of the peaceful presence of pro-lifers outside the doors of the facility.

“I am in this movement today because of ordinary people who took an extraordinary risk,” Johnson said in her endorsement of 40 Days for Life. “My former abortion clinic is closed because of their sacrifice.”

Sweeney said she believes the prayer effort is what God wants but that many do not understand the group’s intentions. The campaign maintains a peaceful, prayerful presence outside abortion clinics for 40 days each fall and again in spring during Lent.

“They still think of us is protestors, but what they don’t understand is that we are primarily doing is praying,” Sweeney said. “I’ll never understand how somebody can be against praying.”

She also alluded to the words of Christ as a key factor in the movement to shut down abortion clinics.

“We know there are demons that are not driven out except by prayer and fasting,” Sweeney said. “We know that without a doubt this is a spiritual warfare and we need to put on the entire armor of Christ to fight it.”

A number of well-known public figures have endorsed the efforts of 40 Days for Life, including Norma McCorvey, the plantiff of Roe v. Wade who became a Catholic in 1998, and Pope Francis.

“The Holy Father greatly appreciates the dedicated work that you and everyone involved in 40 Days for Life are engaged in to promote respect for the lives of all unborn children,” a statement from the Secretariat of State read. “His Holiness assures you of his prayerful support for you, your colleagues and all those whose prayer, fasting and sacrifices are saving countless lives and giving glory to God.”

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