GLENDALE — Good Friday found more than 150 local Catholics praying in front of a Planned Parenthood facility, one that performs abortions up to 24 weeks.
And whether through the use of pills that induce an abortion or surgery, pro-lifers know that many babies die at the facility on a regular basis. Anita Usher, a 40 Days for Life coordinator, said she’s seen women enter the abortion center visibly pregnant.
Luisa Lukaszewski, a mother of seven children ages 2-18, was busy spreading sunscreen as the crowd stood under a cloudless sky, drenched in sunlight on April 3.
“This is our annual tradition. We’re always here on Good Friday and Christmas Eve and we want to stand for life,” Lukaszewski said. “There are babies who are killed here every day and there are moms and doctors that don’t realize the gift that they are getting rid of and throwing away.”
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted has led a rosary at an abortion site each year on Good Friday since he arrived to lead the Diocese of Phoenix in 2003.
“This is Calvary — this is where the innocent is unjustly killed just as Jesus was on Calvary,” Bishop Olmsted said. “We need to be standing in communion with them and also be here for their mothers and for others. We can assure them that there’s another way and there’s certainly a much better choice they could make.”
As the rosary prayers continued just outside the facility, women continued to arrive for scheduled appointments.
“Come talk to me,” one of the pro-lifers called out to one. “Don’t do this. You’ll regret it for the rest of your life. We can help you. I’ll adopt your baby.”
Laurie Pittsenbarger of Life Choices Women’s Clinic and Tonya Gruszynski of the Hope Mobile stood on the sidewalk adjacent to the facility, attempting to talk to Planned Parenthood clients.
Gruszynski spoke to one woman and persuaded her to seek attention inside the Hope Mobile, a pro-life resource center on wheels that was parked near Planned Parenthood. The woman decided not to keep her appointment at the abortion facility and instead sought services at Life Choices.
A number of priests and seminarians were on hand to help lead the rosary prayers, including Fr. Joseph Terra, FSSP. Fr. Terra was badly beaten and sustained severe injuries last June when a burglar attempted to break into Mater Misericordiae Parish.
Still, he’s frequently found praying in front of abortion facilities, just as he was before the attack that took the life of his brother priest, Fr. Kenneth Walker, FSSP.
“We do this every year,” Fr. Terra said of the Good Friday rosary. “I spend a lot of time out here every week. When the most innocent of all lives is taken, why not?”
Ellen Sweeney, who’s been active in the pro-life movement since the 1970s, shielded her eyes from the sun as she looked out over the crowd.
“The bishop’s right — this is our current Calvary,” Sweeney said. “If we call ourselves Christians, this is where we need to be.”
At 24 weeks, the stage at which some of the abortions take place at the Glendale facility, the unborn child is just one week away from being considered viable. About 36 percent of babies born at 24 weeks survive, though often with serious complications. Abortion services at the Glendale Planned Parenthood range in price from $400 to $1,900.