Nov 112010
 
Authors: Erin Udell

Driving through the Plum and Shields intersection on a weekend between Sept. 22 and Oct. 31, you probably saw them — a group of people outside of Planned Parenthood, a provider of reproductive healthcare.

Some were holding signs, some were speaking with passerby and, on one particular afternoon, a woman, Greeley resident Christine Mellin, wasn’t wearing shoes.

“I hear, ‘You’re barefoot?’ a lot,” Mellin said of her participation in “Bearfoot for Babies,” a pro-life campaign started last year by a group of students at the University of Northern Colorado.

The campaign called for people to go barefoot during Life Week 2010, a pro-life event that went from Oct. 3 to 9. According to the “Bearfoot for Babies” website, the main goal of the event is to “put aside personal comfort and social norms in silent protest against abortion.”

“I’m just trying to raise awareness for our respect for life from conception to natural death,” Mellin said. “I’ve had a chance to talk about my beliefs and get people involved.”

As part of the “Bearfoot for Babies” events, participants attended a stand-in prayer vigil on Oct. 9. This vigil was one of the many weekend demonstrations for 40 Days for Life, a community-based campaign that aims to end abortion through prayer, fasting and community outreach.

Since its inception in 2007, 40 Days for Life has campaigned six times and has taken place in 307 U.S. cities, six Canadian provinces, three Australian states, Denmark and Northern Ireland.

According to the 40 Days for Life website, more than 350,000 people have participated in the campaign, along with 11,500 church congregations.

“We’re praying and making a public witness for life,” said Linda O’Brien, a 40 Days for Life participant. “It’s not easy at first. Of course there’s some criticism, but we pray for them. We want the best for everyone.”

“It’s ironic that the pro-choice movement actually eliminates so many choices,” Mellin said. “That’s why they’re often here seeking a choice.”

With a history dating back to 1916, Planned Parenthood provides contraception and health services to men and women, funds birth control research and offers access to family planning resources.

“Our mission is to ensure that people can make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health,” said Monica McCafferty, the director of marketing and communications for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

With 28 locations in Colorado, Planned Parenthood health centers provides more than 123,000 clients with reproductive and basic healthcare services. Some of these services include breast and cervical cancer screening, routine gynecological care, birth control and, in certain locations, abortion services.

Planned Parenthood aims to provide women with a welcoming environment and safe health care services, McCafferty said.
“We at Planned Parenthood take women’s health very seriously. We are here everyday for our clients,” McCafferty said. “It is our goal to ensure their health, safety and security.”

“Obviously there are many opinions on abortion,” McCafferty said when asked about the 40 Days for Life demonstrators. “They are a very small but vocal minority.”

The 40 Days for Life organization, which culminated its fall campaign on Oct. 31, plans to begin another 40-day period of prayer vigils during Lent, which begins on March 9. To become involved, the group’s official website provides information on contributions and volunteer opportunities.

City Council Beat Reporter Erin Udell can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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