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People sign their names on a 40 Days for Life bus at a pro-life rally near an abortion clinic in Bellevue Oct. 16. The bus is on a national tour supporting the annual effort of prayer and witness against abortion.

U.S. tour joins rally for life

About 120 people joined a prayerful, pro-life rally near an abortion clinic in Bellevue Oct. 16, including representatives with the national 40 Days for Life organization on a tour of all 50 states.

Part of the fall 40 Days for Life prayer and advocacy effort that began Sept. 28 and ends Nov. 6, it was held in the parking lot of Essential Pregnancy Services, across the street from Dr. LeRoy Carhart’s abortion clinic.

"It’s exciting to see the national organization becoming involved and coming to all these abortion mills to pray and rally with the people," said Ann Marie Bowen, chairperson of Omaha-based Nebraskans United for Life, a sponsor of the event. "It was very encouraging."

Father Lydell Lape, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Bellevue, offered an opening prayer, and Don Moore, pastor of Hope Evangelical Free Church in Omaha, provided a closing prayer.

Members of local and national pro-life groups also spoke, including Brad Burks, executive director of Omaha-based Essential Pregnancy Services, and Deacon Jean Plourde, founder with his wife, Kathy, of Gabriel’s Corner crisis pregnancy center in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Speakers also represented organizations Silent No More, the Susan B. Anthony List and the National March for Life.

Bowen said people were especially moved by the words of Heather Bernt, who had an abortion at the Bellevue abortion clinic but was healed through a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat, where she was able to spiritually connect with her unborn child and experience God’s forgiveness.

Bernt, a member of St. Teresa Parish in Lincoln, is regional coordinator for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign and volunteers with Rachel’s Vineyard.

High school students also spoke, as did college students with Mavericks Students for Life at the University of Nebraska Omaha.

"It was amazing to see how the youth are getting involved and hear how they are willing to help in the pro-life movement," Bowen said. "They are so committed and are joining the effort in large numbers."

Traveling mostly by bus to join prayer vigils and rallies, the national 40 Days for Life tour began in Washington, D.C.

The tour is supporting the annual campaign, which encourages a prayerful presence at abortion clinics, including the clinic in Bellevue and a Planned Parenthood facility in Omaha.

To participate in the effort, visit, or to volunteer in Bellevue call Bob Henchal at 402-551-6481, and in Omaha contact Liz Sambol at 402-651-4789.

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