Lori Jenkins has long been a pro-life supporter, but as she begins a 40-day vigil outside Logan’s Planned Parenthood location alongside other pro-life volunteers with the organization 40 Days for Life, she is taking action to match her beliefs.
“I’ve always felt like I should be doing more,” Jenkins said. “These babies have no one to speak for them. If all of us who are pro-life did something to speak out like this, we could bring an end to abortions.”
Jenkins and her husband, Robert, are taking part in 40 Days for Life’s national campaign, in which hundreds of volunteers from each of the 50 states hold vigils outside abortion clinics to demonstrate through prayer, fasting and community outreach. The Jenkins and other volunteers will post themselves along Main Street outside the clinic every day between Sept. 28 and Nov. 6.
The start of the vigil coincided with National Women’s Health and Fitness Day, which has also been called the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion.
“Abortion is America’s Holocaust,” Robert Jenkins said as he held a sign reading “Pray to End Abortion” along Main Street. “We’re here to have a peaceful vigil of prayer and to talk to people about the alternatives that exist to abortion.”
Logan’s Planned Parenthood location does not perform abortions. However, it can provide informed consent to individuals wishing to obtain an abortion elsewhere in the state following a 72-hour period. The clinic also provides birth control, testing for sexually transmitted disease, emergency contraception and pregnancy testing.
The number of protesters fluctuated throughout the afternoon between one to four people. One protester was a pedestrian who agreed to stand alongside Robert for a short time. Another protestor, Nicole Held, carried a white-beaded rosary and a sign, praying quietly as cars passed by.
Robert Jenkins said he and his wife have long been supporters of 40 Days for Life, which started in 2007. The group’s focus on prayer and fasting has roots in Christianity and follows the pattern of Biblical events like Noah’s Ark and Moses’ 40 days on Mount Sinai. Although the Jenkins themselves are Catholic, Robert said the pro-life concept can reach beyond religious beliefs.
“Vigils like this have seen success across the country, and it’s not just Christians,” Robert said. “I know there have even been atheists who have been willing to stand alongside the vigils and show their support.”
Lori Jenkins wanted to participate in this year’s 40 Days for Life campaign to give Cache Valley residents an opportunity to join in the vigil without traveling to Salt Lake City, which is holding a rally on Oct. 19 as part of the organization’s tour to each of the states within 40 days.
“Local clinics are open by permission of churches within your city,” Lori said. “We are living in the midst of a holocaust. Since abortion became legal in this country, around 63 million children have been killed, ending more lives in this country than wars, famines, diseases and natural disasters combined. To not oppose evil is to enable it.”
Karrie Galloway, Chief Executive Officer of the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, responded to the protest in an interview with The Herald Journal, acknowledging the group’s right to protest, but also stating that Planned Parenthood’s focus on reproductive health care did more to prevent abortions than protests like 40 Days for Life.
“We do more every day for families than any sidewalk protest,” Galloway said. “People have every right to express their opinions. However, we are working every day to help women practice healthy family planning and to provide comprehensive reproductive healthcare so that families do not have to be subjected to a difficult choice. We know what we’re doing is helpful. Even if they were outside every day, we will keep doing what we can.”
Lori Jenkins emphasized she and the other members of the vigil were not seeking confrontation, but welcomed individuals who would be willing to speak with them about alternatives to abortion or visiting Logan’s Center for Pregnancy Choices at 90 N. 100 East.
“If there’s anyone considering abortion out there, please come talk to us,” she said. “Pregnancy is temporary, but death is permanent.”