Some 150 Catholics stood praying the Rosary in front of the building that will soon house the new state headquarters for the state’s largest provider of abortion.
Planned Parenthood announced in March that it was remodeling an office building on 15th Street near Missouri Avenue. A press release from the organization stated that “The new health center will be larger and incorporates best practices for improving the quality and comfort of patients’ health care experience.”
Leaders in the pro-life community as well as parishioners from around the diocese attended the May 22 rosary. They stood in the bright morning sunlight holding placards and fingering rosary beads as priests and deacons took turns leading various decades.
Christine Accurso, executive director of First Way Pregnancy Center, located less than a mile from Planned Parenthood’s future state headquarters, said it was important to be united in prayer for the end of abortion and that the debate over the issue wasn’t just about saving unborn lives. “It’s also a fight for the heart and soul of the mother and father,” Accurso said.
Already, both organizations are aiming efforts at local women.
“We will be marketing heavily to their clients as well as they have already made it clear that they are marketing to ours,” Accurso said. “We are going to continue to market our services for the whole family to be supported in a crisis pregnancy and we’re going to do that right here on this sidewalk beginning today.”
Ellen Sweeney, a 40 Days for Life coordinator who has been involved with the pro-life movement since shortly after abortion was legalized, sat in a folding chair in front of the building located on a quiet corner near 16th Street. Battling severe foot problems, she nonetheless found it important to be at the rosary event.
“The fact that they’re opening a new location — I think we have to claim it for Christ before they move in. He’s our hope and that’s why I’m here today,” Sweeney said.
[/quote_box_right]Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix has regularly prayed the Rosary in front of a Planned Parenthood facility since arriving in the diocese in 2003.
“Somebody needs to be here to say this is really seriously evil,” Bishop Olmsted said. “And somebody not only to say that by our presence but then to pray to the Lord who alone who can defeat evil.”
Mike Phelan, director of the Office of Marriage and Respect Life for the Phoenix Diocese, fielded a question from a woman just prior to the opening prayer.
“Is there anything we can do to stop this?” the woman asked.
“We need to cover this place in prayer. We can talk about that afterwards,” Phelan said.
Planned Parenthood, for its part, is soliciting donations for the completion of the remodeling effort. The abortion provider, which receives some $500 million annually from taxpayers, bills itself as a non-profit organization providing health care.
Accurso said that pro-lifers will be on the sidewalk outside the new Planned Parenthood headquarters, praying for the women who enter and passing out literature.
“We’re spreading the word so that those in this community here will be aware of where we are so that we can serve them,” Accurso said.