By Kenneth J. Souza
ATTLEBORO, Mass. — With all the recent publicity surrounding the new Trump Administration and the defunding of Planned Parenthood, longtime 40 Days for Life coordinator Ron Larose expects “a fair amount of activity” at this year’s Lenten campaign outside the Four Women Health Services Clinic in Attleboro.
“We’ve already been seeing that since the election, with the pushback by those who promote abortion who have some discomfort with our presence there at the site,” Larose recently told The Anchor. “We’ve seen this before in presidential elections where the alternate groups seem to be threatened by our presence there.”
The 18th 40 Days for Life campaign will kickoff on Ash Wednesday, March 1, beginning at 6 a.m. at Angel Park, a public right-of-way just outside the sole remaining abortion clinic within the Fall River Diocese, located at 150 Emory Street in Attleboro. The peaceful prayer vigil will run daily through April 9 at the location.
The idea is simple: To stand and pray, united for life in a small corner of the vineyard at the last remaining abortion clinic in the entire southeastern region of Massachusetts.
“Over the last few campaigns we’ve had more and more parishes coming as groups to the 40 Days for Life, which is very heartening for us to see,” Larose said. “The word is spreading and I think there’s a greater awareness now than there’s ever been. We’re very encouraged. I think all the Pro-Life groups are more and more energetic since the election.”
Although he didn’t attend the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. this year, Larose credits the appearance of Vice President Mike Pence at the Pro-Life rally as one of the key catalysts in re-energizing the Pro-Life effort.
“With the support we’ve been getting from the current administration, I’m sure we’ll make great strides towards protecting religious liberty and supporting the defunding of Planned Parenthood, in which their main objective is to provide abortion services, and not ‘women’s health care,’ as they claim,” Larose said.
“A few of our regular prayer warriors did attend and they were very uplifted by the attendance and by the support that the march provides to all Pro-Life groups around the nation,” he added. “As usual, our young people are leading that effort throughout the nation, which is most heartening for us as Pro-Lifers who have been in the movement for many years. It’s great to see so many young people involved.”
For the first time this year, the Attleboro 40 Days for Life campaign will join with its Boston and Worcester counterparts for a special prayer launch service at The Betania II Retreat Center, 154 Summer Street in Medway. The service will begin February 26 with a Mass celebration at 4 p.m., followed by a presentation by internationally-known Pro-Life speaker Dr. Anthony Levatino at 5 p.m.
“There will be a Mass and then Dr. Levatino will be speaking,” Larose said. “It’s a very worthwhile event, it’s open to the public and is free of charge. The Boston campaign is taking the lead on this and they actually do a launch like this every year.”
An obstetrician/gynecologist and an attorney, Dr. Levatino previously conducted abortions but had a conversion after losing his daughter and is now currently medical director of two pregnancy help centers.
“I did abortions in my office and in the hospital, including D&E abortions in private practice in the Detroit area from 1981 until 1985,” Dr. Levatino shared in a recent testimony. “My experiences are not all that unique. I was not terribly comfortable with abortions. I had some personal reasons why I was not comfortable with it.”
“My discomfort came at that point because there was this tremendous conflict going on within me,” Dr. Levatino said. “Most of the time in our practice was not spent doing abortions. It was providing obstetrical care for people who wanted their children. It is very common for your obstetrician to have an ultrasound machine. We use that ultrasound machine on a daily basis.
“As a doctor, you know that these are children; you know that these are human beings with arms and legs and heads and they move around and they are very active. But you get reminded — every time you put that scanner down on somebody’s uterus — you are reminded. Because you see the children in there — hearts beating, arms flinging.”
The Attleboro 40 Days for Life campaign will also have a small local prayer service at the vigil site on Saturday, March 4 beginning at 8 a.m., followed by Mass celebrated at 9 a.m. at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, 41 Linden Street in Attleboro.
The largest and longest coordinated Pro-Life mobilization in history, the nationwide 40 Days for Life campaign includes prayer and fasting, community outreach and participation in peaceful vigils at sites throughout the country like the one in Attleboro.
Since its inception, 40 Days for Life has generated measurable life-saving results in more than 130 cities where it has been implemented. Some locations have reported as much as a 28 percent decrease in local abortion numbers and hundreds of new people getting involved in local life-saving ministry efforts.
Since the first coordinated 40 Days for Life campaign took place in 2007 through the end of 2016, local campaign leaders have reported these blessings — God’s answers to their prayers:
— 4,535 total campaigns in 675 cities and 40 countries;
— 725,000 individual participants;
— 19,000 churches;
— 12,668 lives saved from abortion;
— 143 abortion workers quit their jobs; and
— 83 abortion facilities have been closed.
Larose invites everyone in the diocese to take advantage of this Lenten season to pray and fast as a witness to the Gospel of Life.
“We feel this is our chance to really make some inroads with the abortion lobby, if you will,” Larose said. “And we’re optimistic that this administration will have a significant impact on our country.”
For more information about 40 Days for Life or to sign up for vigil hours in Attleboro, visit www.40daysforlife.com/attleboro.
For information about the February 26 Pro-Life Prayer Launch in Medway, email email@example.com or call 781-769-5398.