Let’s deliver a peaceful message that preserves the sanctity of life.
That’s the theme shared by supporters of the “40 Days for Life” vigil kicked off across the globe and in the Diocese of Wilmington on Sept. 22.
From Bishop Koenig’s words at the 40 Days for Life Kickoff Mass at Cathedral of St. Peter to the signs and pamphlets shared along the sidewalks in front of Planned Parenthood in Wilmington, prayers for the preservation of life tied it all together.
“We especially offer this Mass for the sanctity of human life,” Bishop Koenig said. “We begin here in the Diocese of Wilmington ‘40 Days for Life’ on this day as we peacefully pray and peacefully allow ourselves to be seen in front of the Planned Parenthood here in Wilmington.”
In his homily, the bishop said the impact that one or two people make can be all the difference.
“Let’s work together. Let’s speak out for life. Jesus says to us there are times that our message is not received. He says, ‘Go forth from there.’”
“Let’s be mindful that we are stewards of the greatest gift God gives to us, the gift of life,” the bishop said. “We think of it as we pray for the sanctity of life, the sanctity of life from the moment of conception to natural death. We think of … our mission to protect life, to be messengers of that sanctity of life.”
About 50 people attended morning Mass at the cathedral. Many of the same people were joined by others in front of Planned Parenthood at Sixth and Shipley streets. They recited the rosary and prayed under the watchful eye of security escorts at the abortion clinic.
After nearly 50 years of fighting the Roe v. Wade case allowing legalized abortion, abortion opponents say they have reason to be hopeful with recent legal decisions in the U.S. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court ruled against blocking a Texas law banning abortions at six weeks of pregnancy. In May, the nation’s highest court agreed to hear an appeal from Mississippi to keep its ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which was struck down by a federal district court in Mississippi in 2018 and upheld a year later by the New Orleans-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.
The Texas law is one of the strictest abortion measures in the country, banning abortions in the state after a fetal heartbeat is detectable. The law has an exception for medical emergencies but not for rape or incest.
“The wording for the Texas case was the key, so I think a lot of states are going to follow suit with how they worded that,” said Julie Easter, a leader of the pro-life group Wilmington for Life and the local 40 Days for Life effort.
She emphasizes that the local groups are focused on offering help to women.
“We’re labeled as protesters. We’re not protesters. This is a vigil. We pray. We do offer resources. We’re here for you. We can offer services for you,” Easter said. “The number one thing women say when they come out of a clinic is ‘I didn’t think I had a choice.’ So, we’re here to give them that choice.”
“The biggest hurdle that we have is the misconception of what we do, and that has been changing over the years,” she said. “I’ve always said abortion will stop when women realize they’ve been had. A lot of women are waking up to this. This is not a good thing. Many of them have come forward and said, ‘This is something I’ve suffered with for years.’ I’m encouraged by that, just the knowledge that women have, and hopefully just the Supreme Court cases will bring people more knowledge.
“There’s just so much of what we call ignorance and apathy. ‘I don’t know, and I don’t care.’’
The vigil in Wilmington will include at least two people from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. every day except Sunday through Oct. 31, Easter said.
The pro-life community in Sussex County began praying outside the home of a new Planned Parenthood beginning as part of “40 Days for Life.” The new site was scheduled to open this month at 800 Health Services Drive in Seaford.
Knights of Columbus join the group in Wilmington each Saturday from 8-11 a.m., said Felix Spitelle, state life director for the Delaware Knights.
October is recognized as “Respect Life Month” by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Every October, we consider more deeply why every human life is valuable and reflect on how to build a culture that protects life from conception to natural death,” according to the USCCB.