40 Days for Life coordinator shares thoughts on pro-life movement’s next steps
FORT WORTH — Although Roe v. Wade has been overturned and abortion is illegal in Texas, the fight to protect life is not finished. Many women in crisis pregnancies still visit Planned Parenthood in Fort Worth to learn what options are available to end the pregnancy.
Sidewalk advocates offer these women hope and resources, often through their faithful witness of prayer.
40 Days for Life Fort Worth holds a peaceful, silent prayer vigil on the sidewalks of Planned Parenthood each fall. The group held a kick-off rally for its fall campaign on Sept. 28. The vigil runs through Nov. 6.
Bobby Warren, the Fort Worth Campaign Coordinator for 40 Days for Life and a local trainer for Sidewalk Advocates for Life, spoke with North Texas Catholic about the fall campaign.
NTC: Praise God that Roe v. Wade has been overturned! Did you think that would happen?
BW: I did not. I didn’t think it would go back to the states. When the leak came out, then it became real. But we’d always, always prayed that would happen. With some of the recent appointments to the [Supreme Court] bench, we felt like if anything was going to happen, this could be it. But honestly, I didn’t expect it.
NTC: How will 40 Days for Life look different compared to previous years?
BW: I’m afraid people think the fight is over in Texas. I’m afraid apathy is growing out there. In the states that have trigger bans [that made abortion illegal], I think people are stopping or slowing or not coming out like they used to.
A decent number of 40 Days participants have taken their foot off the gas pedal. I answered the question that way because, honestly, I’m concerned. We’re in a dangerous spot for complacency, to be honest.
NTC: What are the priorities of this year’s 40 Days for Life?
BW: At least for our 40 Days effort, we need to go out and re-evangelize at parishes and respect life groups. We need to start at the base again and send the message out that while the dynamic may have changed, the underlying fight, for lack of a better term, is still ongoing.
At our kickoff rally last night for 40 Days for Life, we had Elizabeth Harris as our speaker — she’s the senior regional programs manager for Sidewalk Advocates for Life. She’s in North Carolina, where they are still performing abortion. She said there are more out-of-state license plates than in-state in the parking lot of the abortion clinic where she goes and counsels.
So that’s number one, if people think abortion is over, Planned Parenthood [in Fort Worth] is basically open five days a week. They’re certainly referring people [for out-of-state abortions], and they think the fight’s not over. They continue to fight in states to change things.
We need to educate people that it is still happening. Mother and Unborn Baby Care, the local pregnancy center in downtown Fort Worth had, over the last two weeks, six or seven abortion-minded women come in seeking abortions who have changed their minds.
Isn’t that interesting that there are still women out there who are not tuned into what’s going on in the state? So the fact that they would be seeking abortions in Texas, where they cannot get one, says there’s still a lot that we have to be doing.
NTC: What help can a woman in a crisis pregnancy find here in Texas, specifically in our diocese?
BW: My main ministry’s been really praying on the sidewalk and doing [sidewalk] counseling. Our job is to be out there to give a message of hope, for both her and the baby.
What’s available to that woman are any number of pregnancy centers in our local community that we can refer them to, that have a myriad of services and opportunities. At our fingertips, you can get anything from the basics, to finding shelter, to getting help with diapers or getting help through the pregnancy; all the things that you would need to provide to that baby.
It’s our job to be on the sidewalk, to be that conduit, to be able to refer them to those crisis pregnancy centers.
NTC: What would you like to see from the 40 Days for Life campaign this year?
BW: I’m hoping that we can build up our ranks a little stronger than we are at this point of the effort. You know, it’s just starting out, but last night there were half as many people at the kickoff rally than were there last year. It was stunning to me, honestly.
My hope is to wake up and reinvigorate the people that have kind of stepped away. And that’s going to take some effort across these 40 days.
At the same time, for those who are out on the sidewalk, that they are able to be a witness for life for those women coming in and out of Planned Parenthood and [provide] a referral for help with a crisis pregnancy. We can be there to provide a more life-affirming and lifesaving response for them.
A third [hope] is to hit the reset button. Maybe we should have all been thinking through, in a logical fashion, what happened on the legislative floor, what happened at the judicial branch. It doesn’t necessarily have an effect at the root cause of what is happening here. Crisis pregnancies will continue. Now, how do those people in that position react and respond? They continue to go to Planned Parenthood, or they continue to seek out a pregnancy [resource] center.
If they know it’s illegal in the state, they’re going to try and seek a way to get out of state. A lot of them will turn to where they always have turned, and that’s going to be Planned Parenthood, which will try to push as many people as they can to New Mexico.
NTC: Any last thoughts?
BW: Now more than ever, we need good people willing to take on responsibilities and do work in this ministry of sidewalk counseling and 40 Days for Life in Fort Worth. We need more workers. We need more volunteers that have the time and ability and willingness to jump into the fire and help us reinvigorate this.
For more information or to sign up for vigil hours, go to 40daysforlife.com/en/fortworthsouthwest.