Among those joining Archbishop Donald Wuerl in praying the rosary outside Planned Parenthood's Metropolitan Washington clinic last weekend as part of the 40 Days for Life Campaign against abortion are (from left) Christa Lopiccolo, executive director of the archdicoese's Department of Life Issues; Michelle Carper, program director for the Department of Life Issues; and Samuel Deas, a 40 Days for Life participant.
Among those joining Archbishop Donald Wuerl in praying the rosary outside Planned Parenthood's Metropolitan Washington clinic last weekend as part of the 40 Days for Life Campaign against abortion are (from left) Christa Lopiccolo, executive director of the archdicoese's Department of Life Issues; Michelle Carper, program director for the Department of Life Issues; and Samuel Deas, a 40 Days for Life participant.
As Archbishop Donald Wuerl led a small group of mostly college age people in praying the rosary outside Planned Parenthood's Metropolitan Washington clinic on Oct. 24, three sidewalk counselors tried to reach out to people walking into the abortion clinic.

Archbishop Wuerl then spoke quietly to encourage those praying there as part of the 40 Days for Life Campaign against abortion, which began on Sept. 23 and continues through Nov. 1.

"Thank you for being here. Thank you for being a witness. To do it quietly and in prayer is a beautiful form of witness," the archbishop said. "Abortion may be legal, but it's wrong. If enough people say it, someday it will cease to be a part of the fabric of our nation."

While members of the group prayed, pro-life sidewalk counselors offered women headed for the doors pamphlet and told them about services to support them and their child.

Clinic escorts, wearing orange smocks, walked alongside patients and their family or friends, trying to block the pro-life sidewalk counselors from reaching them.

40 Days for Life is a nationwide movement to enlist pro-life Catholics to stand and quietly pray outside of abortion clinics 24 hours a day for 40 days.

The campaign is active in 212 communities compared to 177 last fall, according to the campaign web site.
Volunteers believe the closure of a Kalispell, Mont., Planned Parenthood clinic is a result of this spring's prayer vigil there. Planned Parenthood claims the closure stems from a lack of interested patients.

Here in the District, 175 women have turned back on their way into the center, said Dick Retta, a member of St. Raphael's Parish in Rockville. He prays and hands out pamphlets there every Wednesday and Saturday when abortions are performed at the clinic.

In the last eight years, Retta estimates that prayers and counseling outside that abortion clinic have helped save about 900 unborn lives.

The sidewalk counseling is not part of the 40 Days campaign, said Michelle Carper, program coordinator with the Archdiocese of Washing-ton's Department of Life Issues.

"There are counselors here today, but 40 Days is just about praying on the sidewalk," Carper said. "It's a prayerful witness that something is going on inside of this building."

Dori Bemonte, of Chevy Chase helped organize the District's 40 Days for Life campaign with help from the Department of Life Issues.

Other vigils are taking place throughout the state of Maryland.