A crowd of pro-life students stood across the street from the Abortion Advantage Clinic early in the morning, peacefully protesting the procedure practiced inside the one-story, nondescript building.
Some clutched rosaries; others stood empty-handed. All prayed, for the women and men in the clinic, for the medical staff who worked there, for an end to abortion.
“We hear women say, ‘To see so many people praying for me makes a difference,’” the Crusaders for Life Prayerful Presence Coordinator Mary Mangan said.
This past Saturday was “100s Day,” an event that the group holds once a semester. It is essentially a more widely promoted version of Prayerful Presence, the organization’s weekly vigil outside the clinic. Every Saturday morning, two shifts of students – one leaving campus at 7:30, the other at 9 – meet at the Tower. From there they carpool to the Abortion Advantage Clinic in Dallas operated by Lamar Robinson, where each group spends approximately an hour and a half on the sidewalk of the Birth Choice crisis-pregnancy center, praying and serving as a quiet reminder that abortion is not the only choice.
“A lot of people always want to come [to Prayerful Presence],” Mangan said. “By having a particular event, it makes it easier.”
The goal of 100s Day is to have over 100 people join together to make an especially bold statement. The ultimate goal, of course, is to dissuade the women who come to the clinic from going through with the procedure. Prayerful Presence regulars refer to these women as “turnarounds.”
Specially trained sidewalk counselors, as they are called, speak to the women and any friends or family who accompany them as they walk into the building. Sometimes, however, the presence of the protesters itself has the most powerful effect.
“We had a turnaround last year – she didn’t talk to anyone, but 100s Day changed her mind,” Mangan recalled.
Often the group does not hear about the effect the vigils have. “Especially now with the new ultrasound law, it’s hard to tell” what caused a change of heart, Mangan said, referring to a law that went into effect in Texas in February that requires doctors to perform a sonogram before an abortion, show the mother the results, and describe the unborn child’s features and development.
“Every so often we do get a turnaround we hear about,” Mangan said.
An estimated 150 students participated on Saturday, approximately 50 less than the 100s Day held last semester and 100 lower than the number Crusaders for Life had hoped for. But Mangan remained cheerful and was pleased with the event on the whole.
The group particularly affected two women who are now “seriously considering changing their minds,” Mangan said. “So, please pray to St. Anthony and St. Dominic for them.”