For Catholics in the Diocese of Phoenix who care deeply about the pro-life cause, Good Friday entails a pilgrimage of sorts to a busy street corner in Glendale.
That’s because Planned Parenthood operates a clinic near 59th Avenue and Thunderbird that performs both chemical and surgical abortions. Each year, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, alongside priests and deacons, leads the faithful in a bilingual Rosary, offering prayers for pregnant women, their unborn babies and abortion workers.
“We’re here today because of our love for the Lord Jesus Christ and our conviction that His death on the cross was a victory for life and a victory for love,” Bishop Olmsted told the crowd. “We pray for an end to abortion but especially for the conversion of hearts — our hearts and those of others, and particularly the hearts of those who are contemplating today to end the life of their unborn child.”
Clutching water bottles as well as rosaries and holding umbrellas as a shield against the 90-degree heat, the area adjacent to the Planned Parenthood was packed with pro-lifers who stood resolutely praying. The Glendale Police Department estimated the crowd at 350.
Ann Hughes of St. Helen Parish in Glendale said she prays outside of the facility most Wednesday mornings and has spoken with women who have come seeking an abortion.
“I tell them they have options and that they don’t have to do this, that there are several pro-life clinics in the Valley that will go the extra mile and then some to help them,” said Hughes. “I try to talk to them if I get a chance. I say, ‘I’ll adopt your baby.’”
A woman who identified herself only as “Debbie” said that she also prays regularly outside the clinic, holding a sign that proclaims “I Regret My Abortion.” She said she had an abortion in Washington in 1971, after the state began allowing abortion under limited circumstances.
“I was just 18, in my first semester of college, and believed all the lies, that it’s just a blob of tissue,” Debbie said. “You’re at your weakest.
When the 15 decades had been prayed, Bishop Olmsted thanked the many families and young people in attendance.
“The reason why we have so much hope is that the present, younger generation is more pro-life than the one that’s older than them,” Bishop Olmsted said.
Mike Phelan, director of the Marriage and Respect Life Office, encouraged the crowd to continue to pray in front of the facility.
“This particular abortion center has regular counter-protesting happening,” Phelan said. The crowd cheered as he continued: “It’s a good sign that the other side is so active at this time because it’s a sign that life is winning.”
The day before the Rosary event, President Donald Trump signed a law overturning the former Obama administration’s December 2016 regulation that forced states to fund Planned Parenthood. Pro-life advocates who stood outside Planned Parenthood, such as John Jakubczyk, the former president of Arizona Right to Life, believe the defunding of Planned Parenthood is imminent.
“It’s going to happen this year,” Jakubczyk said. “I suspect it will happen before June.”