Prayer works, and we are seeing it in our community.
Recently, I shared that one of the largest drops in the number of abortions that our region has seen in recent years was the year that we brought the 40 Days for Life campaign to Columbus. That year, we saw a drop in the number of abortions performed here by more than 20%, a rate that far outpaced any other community in the state or the state as a whole.
We’ve also heard from women who saw someone quietly praying at the clinic and either turned away from her abortion or, if she went through with the procedure anyway, remembered the holiness of the person praying and has shared that it was the thought of that prayer that brought into a post-abortion recovery or healing program, or even back to her faith. We also hear from leaders like Abby Johnson that the abortion industry has said that when people are out praying the no-show rate for abortion procedures rises to 75%.
We also see again and again the influence that those out praying have on clinic workers and directors, many of whom leave the industry and find the courage to speak up about what is really going on inside.
Prayer can unite people of different faiths, give solace to the ill, provide strength to the struggling, and bring joy and hope to those who seek a growing relationship with God.
To the skeptic, these can be explained away as are anecdotal or coincidental or even superstitious. To those who have faith, however, we are confident that they are the tools by which God brings about great changes here on earth and in our hearts. So we steadfastly pray – even when we do not see or even feel the effect of our prayers. We still know that they are efficacious.
Why am I mentioning this? Because prayer has brought about another change in the community. About a year ago, a group of us sat together and talked about the idea of moving 40 Days for Life’s fall vigil to Founder’s – Ohio’s oldest abortion clinic. Our sidewalk counselors had been focusing on the clinic for nearly a year, and we were sensing the effectiveness. Our thought was that bringing the power of intensive prayer to Founder’s could start to shift the culture of the community and the spiritual environment. So we invited our 40 Days team to come pray with us at Founder’s.
Admittedly, reactions from our volunteers were all over the place. A few people felt uncomfortable with the new environment. Others reported that seeing women go in just for the purpose of abortion created a new sense of urgency. Still others appreciated the opportunity to pray at a new clinic and joined the ranks of our sidewalk counselor team. Meanwhile, with the additional prayer support, our sidewalk counselors saw more and more women turn away.
Since then, we’ve seen changes at the clinic. In the weeks following the 40 Days for Life, Founder’s had a few things happen. Among them, the clinic changed is procedures to stop doing abortions after the fifteenth week. It was also sued. The clinic changed its procedures rather drastically. Until December of 2013, Founder’s performed abortions up to 20 weeks gestation. The below photograph captures an image from their website as of December 2013. As you can see, abortions under 12 weeks cost $400 (plus the cost of additional serviced such as sedation and pain pills). The price point increases for every week of gestation (for surgical procedures) until the 20th week, at which point they refer a woman to another clinic out of state.
A few weeks later, the Founder’s website changed.
The Clinic has stopped doing abortions after 15 weeks gestation, at least at this time.
What does this mean? Well, it is hard to say. Statewide, about fifteen percent of all abortions happen after thirteen weeks gestation (the data is not available for those happening strictly after 15 weeks). Other clinics – here in Columbus and throughout the state continue to do them until the point of viability (Ohio law generally prohibits abortions after viability - the point when a baby can survive outside the womb). To some minds this will be a victory – one fewer clinic doing abortions after 15 weeks gestation. Others will concede that point, but recognize that the baby 14 weeks old is just as important as the baby 17 weeks old. Still others will suggest that we should not celebrate at all until every baby at every age is safe from abortion.
We at Greater Columbus Right to Life will keep working until every baby is safe, but until then we will celebrate every life saved. Make no mistake, however: the fact that Ohio's oldest abortion clinic has voluntarily chosen to reduce its scope of activities is a sign that the culture is starting to shift in our community. This was not a change brought about by legislation or regulation. It was the "choice" of the clinic. We will continue to share the truth – that no woman should feel that abortion is her best or only choice. We will continue to pray that this is just the first step to seeing Founder’s close entirely because there is neither need nor provider.
Today, however, we are grateful to all of those who join us in praying for the light of Christ to shine down at Founder’s clinic. We are grateful to see this small sign that it is not simply business at usual. You can call it coincidence, you can call it anecdotal, and you can call it insubstantial. We are calling it providential. Prayer works. We just need to keep working together and keep praying together.
PS - There are ten days left of 40 Days for Life. You could make a real difference by joining us to pray!