Pro-life witnesses from Columbus pray outside LeRoy Carhart’s abortion clinic in Bellevue during the 2019 spring campaign of 40 Days for Life. COURTESY PHOTO

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40 Days for Life campaign underway

As Lent began Ash Wednesday, Feb. 17, Catholics are encouraged to bear public witness to the sanctity of human life through fasting and prayer during the annual 40 Days for Life campaign.

As in previous years, the metro area’s 11th annual Lenten campaign includes prayer vigils in front of the Planned Parenthood facility at 3105 N. 93rd St. in Omaha and the abortion clinic at 1002 Mission Ave. in Bellevue. A similar event is held in the fall.

Participants sign up for one-hour time slots between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. to join sidewalk counselors in support of their outreach efforts to abortion-vulnerable women, and to pray for an end to abortion.

Sponsored by Nebraskans Embracing Life (formerly Nebraskans United for Life), organizers hope this year’s campaign will run the full 40 days, ending on March 28 (Palm Sunday), unlike last year’s efforts that were cut short due to pandemic restrictions.

Lauren Bopp, chair of the spiritual committee of Nebraskans Embracing Life (NEL) who helps organize the 40 Days event locally, said she “has gotten the message from people that we really, really need to get out there and be a presence.”

“The culture is giving the message stronger and stronger that the way to solve your problems is to get an abortion,” she said.

“We’re there with the sidewalk counselors who need that support … knowing that people are there praying while they are communicating with the (pregnant) women, trying to get the message across to the women that they don’t have to do this,” Bopp said, and that “there is a support system emotionally and financially in their community.”

That support comes from organizations such as NEL as well as the Bethlehem House, an Omaha home for pregnant women in crisis, who “walk with the women,” Bopp said, “and to make sure they get the healthy medical care that they need, providing Christian outreach and being Jesus to the people that are there.”

Bopp said people participate in 40 Days for Life to save lives, to be there praying for the women who go in (to the abortion clinics) who are victims, to guide hearts away from choosing abortion and to choose life instead.

Since the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion across the country, more than 60 million surgical abortions have been performed.

Since its 2007 inception in Bryan, Texas, the 40 Days for Life organization believes it has been responsible for 211 abortion workers leaving their jobs, the closing of 107 abortion centers and more than 18,000 lives saved internationally.

According to the organization’s website, an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) spokesperson tabbed the 40 Days for Life movement as “the greatest threat to choice.”

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Want to get involved?

For more information or to participate, contact Elizabeth Sambol at 402-651-4789 or elizabeth.sambol@gmail.com (Omaha); or Bob Henchal at 402-880-5447 or henchal@runbox.com (Bellevue).

On the Web: 40daysforlife.com/omaha or 40daysforlife.com/bellevue

On Facebook: Visit “40 days for Life Omaha/Bellevue, Nebraska

Participants must abide by COVID-19 guidelines for social distancing and masking.