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'40 Days For Life' begins today with Mass, candlelight vigil

September 28, 2016
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

40 Days For Life will open its annual call for action tonight with a Mass and candlelight vigil, quietly beginning what organizers hope will be "the largest pro-life mobilization in history."

The local effort will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a Special Mass to pray for the unborn at the Church of the Resurrection at 8121 Cypress Lake Drive in Fort Myers. A candlelight vigil will follow at 7:15 p.m. at Planned Parenthood at College Parkway and Winkler Road in Fort Myers.

The vigils will continue there, and at a women's clinic in North Fort Myers, through Nov. 6.

Their intent - and the intent of participants nationwide and throughout 23 nations - is to draw attention to the event's focus point, the belief that all life is sacred.

Participants will take part in a three-pronged initiative - prayers and fasting, a constant vigil throughout the campaign, and community outreach, which typically includes "prayerful protests" at sites that either provide abortions or provide support for the procedure.

"Our philosophy is that we're probably not going to win this battle through the courts. We will win it through prayer and fasting," said Gary Butson, an organizer of this year's event.

The main focus in Lee County will be at Planned Parenthood and a new location this year, the Southwest Florida Women's Clinic in North Fort Myers at Weavers Corner.

The vigils are intended as the "visual public centerpiece" of the initiative, according to

To that end, the Lee County effort will focus on 40 days of peaceful prayer and fasting, standing in front of the clinics and spreading a positive pro-life message to the community through the media and public visibility, organizers said, adding all vigil participants are asked to sign a statement of peace, pledging to act in a dignified manner.

In addition to the vigils, the effort will include the offering of free ultrasounds near the North Fort Myers location.

An ultrasound is a very effective tool in the fight against abortion, Butson said.

"We're parking that van across the street from Weaver's Corner. About 79 percent of all women who get an ultrasound don't go through with the abortion. That's why it's so important," he said.

Counselors will be available to those who might want to speak to them as well.

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