40 Days for Life

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40 Days for Life is an international group that campaigns against abortion primarily in the United States but also in several regions worldwide. 40 Days for Life campaigns are managed by local volunteers in each of the cities involved in the effort. It was originally started in 2004 by a local group in Bryan-College Station, Texas, led by David Bereit.[1] The name refers to a pattern of several events lasting for 40 days repeated in the Bible, such as in Noah's Ark, Moses's 40 days on Mount Sinai, and Jesus's 40 days in the desert.

A 40 Days for Life campaign consists of 40 days of prayer and fasting[2][3] in shifts outside of a clinic or hospital that performs abortions. With enough volunteers, this presence may be round-the-clock. A small national office coordinates communications and provides training and other resources for the local volunteers. The organization states that their efforts have resulted in "10,331 lives saved from abortion" and the closure of 60 abortion clinics.[4] The campaign is active in the fall and spring of each year, though local campaigns may continue it year-round. The fall 2010 campaign launched in 238 locations around the world, including the United States, Canada, Australia, England, Northern Ireland, and Denmark.[5] The group reports that as of 2014, officially affiliated groups have been active in 25 countries.[4]


The initial 2004 local campaign resulted in a rejuvenation of local pro-life activities in the Bryan-College Station area. Over the next two and a half years, the campaign was replicated in six other cities.[6] In early 2007, the leaders of those first campaigns got together and suggested a simultaneous nationwide 40 Days for Life campaign in as many cities as wished to participate. The first national campaign ran that fall with activities in more than 80 cities in more than 30 American states.[7] A second national campaign ran in the spring of 2008 during the Christian season of Lent, with events held in 59 cities[8]

The Spring 2009 campaign had numerous domestic and international cities participating, including Brisbane Australia, and cities in Canada, Northern Ireland, and the United States. During the Fall 2009 campaign,[not in citation given] Abby Johnson, the director of the Planned Parenthood facility in Bryan, Texas (where 40 days for Life had originated), became a pro-life activist. After holding a probe for an ultrasound guided abortion (Johnson was technically the facility manager and thus did not usually perform or assist in abortions) Johnson stated that she had seen "the baby move away from the probe".[9] Shortly after this experience, Johnson quit working for Planned Parenthood and joined the Coalition for Life, the local group that had been praying outside her former facility.[9]

The Fall 2010 campaign attracted attention when a Tennessee abortion provider was arrested for brandishing a handgun at three 40 Days for Life participants demonstrating outside a South Carolina abortion clinic.[10] After the spring 2013 campaign, the group says that the campaign involved over 100,000 participants from over 3,600 churches, in 253 locations across 10 countries, and that they are aware of 11,796 unborn lives saved as a result of the campaign, and 73 abortion clinics closed following the campaign. Campaigns continue to be held approximately semi-annually as of June 2016.


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