MARQUETTE - Participants in the "40 Days for Life" campaign want people to understand they are praying for people facing an unplanned pregnancy, not judging them.
40 Days for Life began Wednesday and continues through April 13. The campaign features a peaceful 40-day prayer vigil in the public right-of-way in front of the Planned Parenthood Marquette Health Center at 1219 N. Third St., as well as neighboring private property behind the building.
Molly Bennett, local 40 Days for Life co-director, said local efforts follow the format of the national campaign, with the goal of bringing awareness to the issue of abortion.
Molly Bennett, left, and Jenny Lochner participate in a prayer vigil Friday as part of the “40 Days for Life” campaign in Marquette. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)
Volunteers, Bennett said, will conduct their vigil daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., not including Sundays.
"An end of abortion is ultimately our goal," Bennett said, "but we're just praying for all families involved in abortion, and all families at risk."
Bennett said volunteers want to spread the message of hope and healing, stressing they are not "picketing" but reaching out. Participants, she pointed out, can hand out brochures but will not initiate contact with passersby. However, she said they will steer people to the Care Clinic, a facility adjacent to Planned Parenthood.
The Care Clinic offers counseling and assistance for those facing an unexpected pregnancy, said Jenny Lochner, who is coordinating the local campaign.
"We just want them to know there's a lot of resources in the community for them," Lochner said. "They don't have to go through it themselves."
Bennett said the volunteers are holding their vigil in front of Planned Parenthood because abortion referrals are part of its services.
"It's not a healthy choice," Bennett said.
According to the Planned Parenthood website, the facility also offers birth control, pregnancy testing and health care for women and men, among other services.
Shawn Carney, 40 Days for Life's national campaign director, said in a news release that 522 communities have taken part during 13 nationally coordinated campaigns.
"The efforts of 600,000 people of faith have made a tremendous difference," Carney said.
Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.