Many people from around the world have been inspired by the UNITED tour as an exemplary example of how to run a nationwide campaign — and we have had requests from some countries who would like to launch a similar effort.
This autumn we saw 98 international campaigns registered in 23 countries outside the USA. I visited Slovakia, Kenya, Latvia, Sweden, Germany, Spain and Wales during the campaign.
In London, during the kickoff rally a woman gave her testimony of how she was in Marie Stopes abortion centre in West London with the abortion pill in her hand before she decided not to go ahead. While she gave the testimony, her 2-year-old who survived the abortion was playing at her feet joyfully. On the penultimate day of the campaign, a candlelight vigil was held with 150 people in attendance in front of the BPAS Twickenham building, an ex-convent that now sees around 7,500 abortions a year.
In Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, they are organising a brand new campaign for the first time. 1,500 volunteers took part with lots of results including coverage on the national TV of the prayer vigil outside the hospital. Nurses have come to offer their support to the prayer volunteers, telling them that they are pro-life and they support their prayer and witness. There has been interest across all of Slovakia about the campaign.
I travelled to Nairobi, Kenya with Haywood Robinson. Haywood is an ex-abortion doctor and also a member of the board of 40 Days for Life. Ann Kioko was the campaign leader for the first effort in Nairobi and is an abortion survivor. While we were praying outside Marie Stopes, the largest abortion provider in Africa, a bus load of children singing went into the complex of the abortion provider for a sex education class. The singing stopped as they entered the complex.
It was a powerful moment to be praying with one abortion survivor and with Haywood and his wife Noreen, two ex-abortion doctors outside an abortion centre in Africa. Ann told us stories of whole countries that have changed direction as they result of pro-life activism in Africa — such as Malawi and Sierra Leone. Haywood and I spoke at the university, cathedral, parishes, prayer vigil, radio and to volunteers too in a packed itinerary.
Haywood and Noreen then travelled onto Cape Town to meet Colette Thomas where they spoke on the radio and in a Protestant church, also sharing their testimony.
In Zambia, Iness led a first-time effort out of her crisis pregnancy centre.
In the United Kingdom, pro-abortion activists created an undercover documentary attempting to discredit the pro-life movement — but it was screened at 11pm on national television, had little substance and gained no traction at all. A documentary on the BBC, lamenting the abortion of down’s syndrome babies, received much greater coverage on the same evening.
In Birmingham, nine babies were saved in their most successful campaign in five years. A volunteer spoke to a couple entering the clinic and said to them, “Don’t keep your appointment, keep your baby.” The man crossly said that he didn’t know what she was talking about and that there was no baby. His girlfriend began to look sheepish. She hadn’t told him why they were going there. After a short discussion, the boyfriend went over to the volunteer and said, “We’ll be keeping our baby.” Thank goodness that baby had a father who loved him/her even before they were born.
A second couple already had five children who they’d brought along with them. After a long conversation the father admitted they nearly aborted numbers four and five, but was glad they didn’t. After 20 minutes, the couple decided they would keep this baby too and went happily away. Once again, we saw 20 babies saved from abortion this campaign in the United Kingdom — a result we have consistently seen for many years now through 40 Days for Life.
In Latvia, we co-organised a conference in which 15 countries were present from Central and Eastern Europe and heard the message about 40 Days for Life. It was powerful and exciting to be in the City Hall just 15 years since the end of communism to promote a clear and direct pro-life message. There is much good to be done in this region of the world, and many countries had very high abortion rates during communist times.
In Croatia, 23 vigils in 22 cities were registered and three lives were saved from abortion. Cardinal Burke joined the prayer vigil in Split after promoting his book in the city. A couple who met at the prayer vigil last year and got married came back to the prayer vigil in their wedding dress to rekindle their romance where it all began.
In Colombia, the Bogota campaign hired portals for their prayer volunteers for their 24-hour campaign, which usually has an average of 15 people present at any one time. One abortion worker left and volunteers said that the most difficult time was when the medical waste truck arrives to take away the body parts of aborted babies.
Seven babies were saved in the Bogota campaign and over 20 lives nationally were saved in total. One woman was diagnosed with a baby with a disability who was reconsidering her options in Bogota.
In Mexico, we had 14 campaigns registered.
In Spain, a textbook effort was organised in El Puerto de Santa Maria, where the team were building a relationship with the abortionist who was friendly and five women changed their minds. Day captains had helped to make this effort a huge success and now there is interest all over Spain, including Pamplona and Barcelona.
In Gherla, Romania, Stefana led a first time effort that included a flash mob. She said normally the hospital does four or five abortions a week, but during 40 Days for Life there were only one or two abortions performed a week there instead as they saw a dramatic reduction in numbers.
In Adelaide, Australia, the team helped a 21-year-old African refugee have an ultrasound and decide to keep the baby.
In Dublin, Carolyn O’Meara said there were four saves from their vigil, including helping a woman who had a powerful dream the night before the abortion to keep the baby.
The future of international campaigns is set to be really exciting as we anticipate that in the next one to three years we will witness 200-300+ international campaigns simultaneously.
In Latin America campaigns will simply grow and grow and grow. I have no idea what to expect, but am very excited to find out! Every week we are getting new enquiries and the future is full of hope and promise!