Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
September 6, 2010
Faithful gather to pray for end to abortion
Group says the rosary each week near abortion clinic, offers, if asked, information on Back Porch option
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - Every Wednesday morning, about 10 people stand across from the Morgentaler Clinic and pray for an end to abortion.
Gertrude Parenteau has been praying outside of the abortion clinic for years. She prays for an hour, between 10 and 11 a.m., rain or shine. In that period, she sees up to 10 women enter and exit the clinic, presumably to abort their pregnancies.
"We fight against abortion. I work at the Pregnancy Crisis Centre, so we started this about 20 or 25 years ago. Even if we are only a few or just one, it disturbs the (clinic) staff and they tell us so," said Parenteau, clutching her rosary.
Years ago she prayed and witnessed at the old Edmonton Morgentaler Clinic location, and continues her pro-life stance at Women's Health Options, 12409-109A Ave. She spoke of the irony of a business calling itself Women's Health Options, yet giving women no option other than abortion.
"It's pitiful. We have to demonstrate publicly that we are against this and so we pray," she said.
Obeying a court injunction, the people praying must stay on the opposite side of the road from the abortuary. On Aug. 25, five people were out praying along the sidewalk by the Back Porch.
"We are very quiet. We stand on this side of the road because of the injunction. We don't harass them. We just stay here and pray," said Parenteau.
She has seen pregnant women accompanied by their parents, boyfriends, grandparents and friends. From time to time, families exiting the abortion clinic will come over to speak with those praying, but Parenteau said that is rare.
A best-case scenario is that the women will come to them first before setting foot inside the abortion clinic. When an opportunity presents itself, she talks to the women and gives them a card from the Pregnancy Crisis Centre where counsellors are available to provide the facts.
Father Tony O'Riordan is a semi-retired priest who serves as chaplain at Ephphatha House near Stony Plain. Wednesday is his day off, so for the past two months he has been coming to the abortion clinic and praying with the small group.
"This is Our Lady of Guadalupe," said O'Riordan, gesturing to an icon surrounded by candles on the grass. "We have been praying for an end to the killing of babies. It's murder. We don't say 'murder' to the girls, but we do to the doctors."
O'Riordan is convinced that through their prayers and guidance, they helped save a life recently. A mother and daughter came by in mid-August and, after the daughter went in the clinic, the mother came over seeking information.
She was referred to the Back Porch, which is dedicated to helping men and women with unplanned pregnancies make educated decisions that they can live with. It provides options to women contemplating abortion. When the mother exited the Back Porch, she went back inside the abortion clinic and took her daughter away.
To discover the facts about the abortion culture, O'Riordan encourages people to read Dr. Bernard Nathanson's book, The Hand of God. Nathanson was a leader in the pro-abortion movement in the 1960s and the former director of the world's largest abortion clinic, based in New York. In the 1970s, he turned against abortion to become a prominent pro-life advocate.
"The lies and deceptions are unbelievable - it's horrific. I've read Dr. Nathanson's book," said O'Riordan.
"He started abortions in the United States back in the 1970s. He quit after he realized that what they were doing was taking human life. He studied fetology, and now he says that the fetus is a human being similar and identical to every one of us, just like a baby is.
Mary-Ellen Robinson leads a monthly rosary group outside the abortion clinic. The group meets on the fourth Sunday of every month and hosts a candlelight rosary. As well, Edmonton Pro-Life has its annual 40 Days for Life campaign every fall.
Still, in O'Riordan's view, it is not enough.
"The Christian voice should be speaking out against evil, but we're not, and that's troubling," he said. "As Christians, we should be out here in the dozens and dozens, speaking out publicly against abortion as well as praying privately. It's not happening."
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