Talk:40 Days for Life

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Additional Sources[edit]

This article's deletion debate was closed (by me) as a Keep. This was due to the additional sources presented in that debate which would establish notability and sourceability. I leave it to editors involved with this article to add those sources to the article as appropriate, and to facilitate this I have copied them below. UltraExactZZ Claims ~ Evidence 12:44, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

  • The National Catholic Register [1]
  • Zenit [2]
  • Sacramento Bee [3]


There were a number of unsourced claims and biased sentences which I have removed. If anyone feels that there was important content that I removed, feel free to restore it as long as it is sourced and rephrased in a NPOV manner. For example, I believe it may be an important fact that local 40 Days campaigns are aligned with local CPCs. However, I don't have a source to back that up. The information about Austin, Texas might be good as well, but again was unsourced. The rest of it seemed marginally informative to downright incorrect or biased. I'm not sure if the rest is salvageable, but again, I'd encourage editors who would support it's inclusion to find sources and rephrase in the cases of overt bias. Good luck!-Andrew c [talk] 20:23, 20 April 2009 (UTC)

Babies Saved From Abortion[edit]

"Babies Saved From Abortion" is opinionated and imprecise language. There is no such thing as a baby saved from abortion, as fetuses and embryos are aborted, not babies.

The citation uses this language because they believe that fetuses and embryos are babies. Wikipedia does not hold that belief, as you can see at such pages as fetus and embryo. Triacylglyceride (talk) 03:15, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

The citation, nevertheless, is the basis for the statement. To change its wording (especially to have a different meaning) is original research. Wikipedia is merely a collection of articles, each based on cited facts. as such it does not nor is it capable of holding any "belief". Anyway, the wording of the citation is not necessarily imprecise. After the creatures who were not aborted are born they indeed are babies. So today, as we write and read about them, it is proper to refer to them as such. Roesser (talk) 15:39, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
As time passes, will it become proper to refer to them as toddlers, teenagers, adults, geriatrics, and corpses? 40DfL does not confirm that these pregnancies were then carried to term.
If a piece by Rush Limbaugh referred to the US presidential election of a "Kenyan-born socialist," would it be appropriate to use that language when citing Mr. Limbaugh at Barack Obama?
I agree that it's tricky work to interpret sources. Perhaps we can agree on some compromise phrasing. "40DfL claims to have prevented the terminations of # pregnancies over the course of this campaign." Triacylglyceride (talk) 06:57, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
I like your idea of some compromise phrasing that puts the burden on 40Dfl. But why not use what they actually claim, which is "we are aware of … 483 babies who have been saved from abortion" in the citation? So I would suggest "40 Days for Life claims they are aware of 483 babies who have been saved from abortion.", which is objectively true. Your suggested wording indicates they claim to have prevented abortions, but they don't use the word "prevent" (which is way too strong).
About Rush Limbaugh, it might be appropriate to use such language if prefaced by "Limbaugh claims" and was relevant to some aspect of the Barack Obama article.
About referring to the aborted creatures as toddlers, teenagers, ..., you make a good point. However, such reference would be proper in various contexts provided the number was adjusted to reflect those that survived to each stage. Roesser (talk) 15:53, 27 September 2011 (UTC)
Here's the problem with saying "40DfL claims 483 babies were saved" -- it's equivalent to saying "Rush Limbaugh claims that this Kenyan-born socialist shot JFK." It puts the burden of "shot JFK" on Rush Limbaugh, but Wikipedia would still be using the phrase "Kenyan-born socialist" to refer to Barack Obama. Similarly, even though 40DfL uses the phrase "babies," it is irresponsible of Wikipedia to use that term to refer to embryos and fetuses, which it clearly does in this context.
I feel that such references would be grossly improper, but we don't need to debate the general case -- do you feel it's proper in this context, where we have absolutely no way of adjusting the number to reflect how many of these pregnancies were carried to term?
Finally, it is not objectively true that 40 Days for Life is aware of 483 babies who were saved from abortion. They are aware of 483 pregnancies that were not terminated, or the terminations of which were delayed. To them, these are equivalent. To Wikipedia, they are not. Triacylglyceride (talk) 02:21, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
You make a good point that Wikipedia would carry the burden of an implication made in the subject of a claim if included in an article. I tend to agree. But what is the remedy? I don't think your substitution "40 Days for Life documented 483 reports of people who were deterred from obtaining abortions, or whose abortions were delayed, as a result of the campaign" works because it substantively changes the meaning of the cited statement, which concerns unborn creatures that were saved not mothers that were deterred. For one thing, suppose some of those saved were twins, triplets, etc, then the number of deterred mothers would not be 483. A better remedy is to avoid any unsupported implication in the subject, while retaining the essential meaning of the citation. Any word used to substitute for "babies" would need to include both "fetuses" and "embryos" because likely both were included in the 483 count. "Unborn creatures" is way too general. I'm now wondering why "babies" can not be used as a general term to include both both fetuses and embryos. I can't find any definition of "babies" or "baby" at all in Wikipedia nor any definition elsewhere that excludes fetus and embryo. On the other hand, many people commonly use "baby" or "unborn baby" to refer to the creature developing within a pregnant woman. So I now suggest that the phraseology used in the citation is proper for Wikipedia. Roesser (talk) 01:01, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
"Baby" is frequently used to mean "fetus" and "embryo" in an unscientific sense because many but far from all women carrying pregnancies intend and look forward to carrying them to term and delivering a baby. It's a charged word when used during pregnancy, and "unborn baby" is equally charged language, full of intent and pressure. Ditto "saved." "Limbaugh reported that the people of America were saved from a Kerry presidency in 2004" is not appropriate language for Wikipedia.
Also and quite frankly, I doubt 40DfL could recognize multiple pregnancies at that stage, and even if they did do an ultrasound on every last patient they heckled into their van, we're talking about an error margin of 1% on a number that nobody should be trusting in the first place. Triacylglyceride (talk) 02:17, 30 September 2011 (UTC)
At what point during development does a fetus scientifically become a baby? To say birth is the demarcation seems unscientific. Why is scientific language required in an article that really doesn't involve science? People are more likely to talk about the creature(s) within a pregnant women in terms of being a baby than as a fetus or embryo because they are not scientists talking about a scientific entity. As far as I can tell, "baby" is not a scientific term because it is not precisely defined as such. Does that mean it can not be used in a Wikipedia article?
If "baby" is considered a charged word it's because it connotes a living human being. But to deny or avoid the humanity of the unborn creature is also charged. Likewise, in this context, "saved" may be considered charged but so is its avoidance. Roesser (talk) 03:42, 30 September 2011 (UTC)
Just came across a reliable source, The World Book Encyclopedia (1976) in its article "Baby" [1] that describes a baby as a human that develops from the time of conception through two preborn stages, embryo and fetus, and then after birth to about 18 months. That settles it as far as I'm concerned. Preborn human creatures are indeed properly refered to as babies, attempts to discredit such usage by calling it charged notwithstanding. So I propose that in the article the use of baby to refer to preborn humans be first established by citing the World Book article and then a statement similar to that of 40Dfl be included. I insist on this. Roesser (talk) 01:57, 1 October 2011 (UTC)
While the World Book is not a reliable source, I am still persuaded by Roesser's argument. I see no problem with including "Babies saved..." as long as it is attributed.– Lionel (talk) 11:07, 2 October 2011 (UTC)
I'm glad you agree that it is charged to use the words "saved" and "baby." Run by me how it is charged to avoid them, please? If using precise language strikes you as being charged, it is because reality has a liberal bias, not my language. If you dislike this, try Conservapedia. Triacylglyceride (talk) 23:38, 2 October 2011 (UTC)
Triacylglyceride, please notice I used "if" in regard to "baby" and "may be considered" in regard to "saved". I was speaking hypotheically in response to you. However, neither word is charged. In light of the World Book article, "baby" is a common and direct way of referencing an unborn human creature, which is normally alive. If a plan to kill it through abortion is stopped, then it is common and direct to say the baby was saved. Conversely, it is charged to indirectly refer to the subject and action of abortion by avoiding direct terms for euphemisic purposes. "Baby" is a precise term to refer to an unborn human creature, since it includes both "fetus" and "embryo". You had to manipulate the language quite imprecisly when you wrote "deterred or delayed 483 people from obtaining abortions" Roesser (talk) 00:29, 3 October 2011 (UTC)
Roesser, while "baby" might be a common term used to denote an unborn human in many areas of the English-speaking world, the fact that "baby" redirects to the Wikipedia article on infants would give me the impression that Wikipedia, for one, is using the term differently than does World Book. As such, I would tend to agree with Triacylglyceride that use of this term should be avoided. As for the use of save, it seems that a more objective wording would be more in line with other relevant Wikipedia articles. I for one would say that internal cohesion within Wikipedia is more valuable than avoiding (controversial) slight biases within individual corner cases. As such, referring to the act prevented, the abortion, as opposed to the intended goal is preferrable. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:49, 3 October 2011 (UTC)
"Baby" is not precise language to refer to the human conceptus, as it refers to (in my opinion, technically exclusively) the post-partum human, which 40 Days for Life patently does not mean. With the citation, consider the parallel construction, "after developing an internal space, a morula is called a blastocyst." Just as an uncoelated blastocyst is not a blastocyst, an unborn baby is not a baby. The language remains politically-motivated and inappropriate for Wikipedia. Triacylglyceride (talk) 23:12, 7 November 2011 (UTC)

There is no valid reason to deny that "483 Babies Saved from Abortion" is an understandable and legitimate statement used in the context of a 40 DFL announcement of results for its Spring 2011 campaign. The use of the words "babies" and "saved" is very adequately defended by Roesser, 30 Sept 2011 and 1 Oct 2011 and agreed to by Lionell, 2 Oct 2011. Gtcooney (talk) 00:11, 5 November 2011 (UTC) George C. 4 Nov 2011

I'm sorry, but I don't feel it's appropriate to act as though consensus has been reached on this matter. I will be reverting the recent edits, as they were made without establishment of a consensus on this debated subject. Triacylglyceride (talk) 23:12, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
There never was a consensus either way and likely never will. You originally acted without a consensus when you changed it from a form consistent with the referenced source. Without a consensus, the referenced source should be the guide. Baby is used formally and informally to refer to both born and unborn humans, as attested to by the World Book article. Most mothers, I dare say, refer to their unborn child as a baby. You say such language is politically motivated, well your rewording it appears to be politically motivated. Roesser (talk) 00:09, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
"Fetus" is precise, medically recognized terminology, whereas 40 Days for Life's use of "baby" to refer to the unborn is significantly more colloquial, and ideologically based to boot. In the interests of neutrality, Wikipedia should not endorse 40DfL's viewpoint by adopting the movement's own language, unless quoting, which is not the case here; grammatically speaking, the sentence under review is an indirect statement, and thus neither implies nor requires exactitude in its replication of 40DfL's phrasing. I therefore agree with Triacylglyceride that "fetus," being both more precise and more neutral than "baby," is preferable in this context. Threonine (talk) 04:47, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
Further, while I do not dispute your assertion that mothers refer to their unborn children as babies, it seems obvious that many people seeking abortions do not identify as mothers, and indeed are vehemently opposed to the idea. And unless you're interested in entertaining "pumpkin" or "snookums" as Wikipedia-valid synonyms for "fetus"—which I, for one, am not—I suggest you abandon the argument that parents' usage of a word justifies its adoption by Wikipedia. Threonine (talk) 05:12, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
Threonine, "fetus" indeed is precise, but in this case too precise. Many abortions, perhaps most, are that of embryos not fetuses. "Fetus" is also, as you indicate, a medical term, but this article is not addressed particularly to a medical audience and thus "fetus" might not be as familiar to the intended reader as is "baby". Furthermore, the suggestion that many people seeking abortions do not identify as mothers (which I contest) is not particularly relevant because it's communication with the general reader of this article that's important.
Concerning the movement's own language: the current sentence is indeed an indirect statement, which asserts that the movement said something that they did not say. It's a false statement. To argue otherwise is original research. The current sentence replaced a direct statement that faithfully represents what 40DFL did say. Truth trumps neutrality. Roesser (talk) 05:56, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
Do you feel it would be appropriate, with sparse context, to say, "Rush Limbaugh said that 40 babies were killed at the local Planned Parenthood this week."? I feel that would neither be true or neutral, and I find it a comparable example. How do you feel?
Let's find a compromise. How about, "40 Days for Life, according to their definition of human embryos and fetuses as babies, says that they saved X# babies from abortion."?
(Odd quotation-punctuation use for precision in quotes.) Triacylglyceride (talk) 06:20, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
Triacylglyceride, I agree to your suggested compromise. Concerning the example Rush Limbaugh statement, I don't feel it would be appropriate in a sparse context. However, in an adequate context (e.g., an article about him, in a section about his remarks) and if he did make the statement, then I feel it would be appropriate. Roesser (talk) 14:27, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
Restructured it slightly to work as a direct quote; also because they didn't say they saved the babies, they said the babies were saved. Let me know if there's a problem.Triacylglyceride (talk) 16:34, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
Reads well, I like it. Roesser (talk) 17:00, 9 November 2011 (UTC)


  1. ^ The World Book Encyclopedia, Field Enterprises Educational Corporation, Chicago, 1976, article BABY, contributed by Ruth A. Lawrence, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Rochester, School of Medicine and Dentistry. Section “The Developing Baby. A baby goes through two major stages of development before birth. During the first stage, which lasts about two months, a developing baby is called an embryo. During the second stage, which lasts about seven months or until birth, it is called a fetus.”

24-hour vigil[edit]

Not all 40 Days for Life protests are 24-hours. Vigils are protests during hours normally reserved for sleeping. The 40dfl website lets one see the schedules of various protest sites, and for the fall season, there were plenty of sites that didn't have anywhere close to 24-hour coverage, not just one or two exceptions. So while the ideal 40dfl protest is 24h, and there does exist "a" 40dfl protest that lasts 24/7, the current phrasing makes it sound like that's always the case. I'll be editing it to read that it "may, with sufficient volunteers, be round-the-clock."

Triacylglyceride (talk) 16:44, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
I agree Roesser (talk) 17:00, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
Well, that was easy. Edited it, again, slight restructuring to read better in situ. As an aside, I really should get in the habit of writing my edits verbatim in talkpages -- most of my history as a Wikipedian has been with Spoken Wikipedia and fixing grammatical errors. Triacylglyceride (talk) 21:30, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
Wait a minute, that's not what I agreed to! I was responding to your quoted text "may, with sufficient volunteers, be around the clock", but you also changed "vigil" to "protest". Protest, which implies issuing demands to an authority, is definitely not the correct word. That is not the intention of participants in 40dfl, rather their objectives are to bring the public's attention to the effects of abortion, to pray to God about it, and atone for it by their sacrifice. In those instances where it is around the clock, "vigil" would be appropriate and descriptive. In other instances "witness" would be a more descriptive term than "protest". Roesser (talk) 01:16, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
Sorry! I hope you can see how I thought you were agreeing to that part of my statement, too.
I find "vigil" and "witness" to be rather weaselish -- a little bit like, "well, this is our religion, so you have to use nicer words to talk about what we do." The signs that I've seen 40dfl protestors holding makes me very comfortable calling them protestors. The things I've heard them shouting at patients going in and out of clinics makes me hesitant to call their protest a "vigil." But I need a citation. I'm a bit busy for the next week or so -- I invite you to do a good-faith compromise edit, and then I want to find a better solution over Thanksgiving.
Part of the problem here is that (big IMHO here) this article was made mostly by people who are pro-40dfl, judging by the slant of most of the citations. I hold the reasonable, widely-held opinion that clinic protests traumatize patients and are a bad thing. The 40dfl article isn't the place to hash that out. I wish there were an article on clinic protests, so we could slap a line on there of, "while 40dfl refers to themselves as a vigil, those outside of the movement see it as a protest that, like other clinic protests, is unnecessarily emotionally traumatic to patients seeking services at abortion clinics." With a citation and a link to the main article on clinic protests.
Ugh, just looked a little further, and Sidewalk counseling seems totally insufficient. Triacylglyceride (talk) 19:39, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
Somewhere along the line, all instances of the word "protest" went out and "vigil" made it back in. Switched back to "protest," since protests are definitely often for the purpose of, in Roesser's words, "bring[ing] the public's attention to" a matter. Triacylglyceride (talk) 05:39, 18 October 2015 (UTC)


Returning to this subject, I reverted the language:

"40 Days for Life is an international group that organizes protest campaigns against abortion, in the form of 40-day semi-annual prayer vigils outside of abortion clinics primarily in the United States. "

Back to "40 Days for Life is an international group that campaigns against abortion by organizing 40-day periods of protests outside of abortion clinics."

Here's my view of what happens: 40 DFL sets aside 40 days semiannually in which they say people should hold "prayer vigils" outside of abortion clinics. Then what actually happens is that, during those forty days, people show up sometimes and pray and protest. But I'm very opposed to language that says that they organize 40-day prayer vigils, because most of what they organize are not prayer vigils.

I feel the text under "activism" describes this fairly.

Oh, right, Lent starts tomorrow.

Triacylglyceride (talk) 22:17, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

History/Activism Discussion[edit]

In the source provided, the organization did not state that abortions were "prevented". It stated that lives "were saved" from abortion. I have replaced this with the source's language (in quotes to reflect that this is the organization's statement, in an attempt to avoid neutrality issues). --Zfish118 (talk) 03:07, 15 October 2015 (UTC)

Noting that there is a long discussion above, the 40 Day's webpage stated does not claim to have "prevented" anything. No amount of discussion can over come that simple fact. A different source would have to be cited to used this terminology. --Zfish118 (talk) 13:27, 17 October 2015 (UTC)
Further, it seems pedantic to include the phrase "according to the definition of embryos and fetus as babies". I believe a footnote adequately addresses any confusion. Secondly, the cited webpage does not offer this definition; I have altered the phrase as a general observation that "40 Days for Life often refers to unborn embryos or fetuses as 'babies'". I also added a note on the timing of the statement on the last day of the campaign. I might also note the OEM allows that "baby" can refer to unborn children, so this is hardly a definition or use unique to 40 Days for Life. --Zfish118 (talk) 13:53, 17 October 2015 (UTC)
It's a little weird to have a page state 40 Days for Life self-published stats every year. We have no idea how they gather those stats. We have no numbers on how many people return for abortions the next week. We don't know if the people presenting for abortion even had confirmed viable intrauterine pregnancies. It's a weird stat that 40 Days for Life labels in a way that furthers their ends.
Let's say an atheist organization picketed churches, and every time somebody decided not to go into a church they added one to a counter that they labeled "brains saved from religion." Would it be appropriate for a Wikipedia article to say "Atheist Strawmen of America saved 400 brains from religion?" I'd argue no.
It's also a little weird that a big part of this article is updating 40 Days for Life's self-published stats. I'd argue that these numbers don't belong in the Wikipedia article. Except maybe in the context of: "Every season, 40DFL publishes a number they call "babies saved from abortion," although the way they reach that number is unclear. The number has ranged from X to Y."

Triacylglyceride (talk) 22:57, 17 October 2015 (UTC)

Although the OEM recognizes that "baby" is a term often *used* to refer to fetuses, that doesn't mean it's encyclopedic to use it to refer to fetuses.
We should probably keep all the discussion on this in one place. Triacylglyceride (talk) 22:59, 17 October 2015 (UTC)
Agreed --Zfish118 (talk) 04:03, 18 October 2015 (UTC)
I think it would likely be encyclopedic to state that "ASA states that they 'saved' 400 brains from religion." I agree that the "saved" language is not ideal, but it is a symptom of using almost exclusively primary sources.
As for the content issue, I agree that yearly updates are not necessarily needed, although I have been looking at is accurate citations primarily at this point. The history section is really a loose list of trivia in chronological order. Some redundant statistics could easily be eliminated to create prose. --Zfish118 (talk) 03:04, 18 October 2015 (UTC)

History as prose[edit]

I have converted the history section to prose, admittedly a dramatic change, in part to address several of the concerns mentioned above. I trimmed away campaigns that merely listed date keeping only a few that had more detail, and tried to keep only relatively notable other events. I removed most statistics of "children saved" as redundant to the number stated in the #Activism section. While I think the #Activism section should closely emulate the organization's language, elsewhere I would not object to the phrasing "helped avert X abortions", rather than "helped save X children". --Zfish118 (talk) 04:03, 18 October 2015 (UTC)

I like your edits and think they're appropriate. Triacylglyceride (talk) 05:35, 18 October 2015 (UTC)

Third Party tag[edit]

Almost all sources are from either the 40 Day organization, or local chapters. This makes neutral coverage difficult. Additional sources would be appreciated. --Zfish118 (talk) 03:13, 15 October 2015 (UTC)