The power of prayer

| November 30, 2011 | 0 Comments

Pro-lifers say vigils helped to bring end to abortions at Regions Hospital

Regions girl

In this file photo, Megan Healy of Holy Family in St. Louis Park joins with others to pray in front of Regions Hospital in St. Paul as part of a 40 Days for Life campaign in 2009. Organized by Pro-Life Action Ministries, seven such vigils took place at the hospital, which executive director Brian Gibson believes caused the hospital to announce recently that it is closing its abortion facility. Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

Brian Gibson of Pro-Life Action Ministries was reading the Liturgy of the Hours Nov. 25 just after getting a stunning piece of news — Regions Hospital in St. Paul was going to close its abortion facility Dec. 9.

After working for the last three years to organize 40 Days for Life prayer vigils at the hospital, Gibson, executive director of the pro-life organization, finally got the result he and thousands of others had been praying for.

“Psalm 35 talks about how those who engage in wickedness seem to be prospering, but God will not let them prosper for too long,” said Gibson, a member of St. Michael in Prior Lake. “I believe in the power of prayer. I believe that God moves and works [because of prayer]. And, I believe that he heard our prayers and that’s why this has happened.”

Pray for lifePro-Life Action Ministries calls all to pray that the nearly-completed Planned Parenthood center in St. Paul will never be used for abortion.

Time: 9:30-10:30 a.m.

Date: Thursday, Dec. 8

Place: Vandalia Street and Charles Avenue

Buses will depart from the Cathedral of St. Paul at 9 a.m. and return by 11 a.m. Call (651) 771-1500 to reserve seats.

Reaching a milestone

The hospital, in announcing its decision, said the number of abortions has been decreasing and that other clinics in the Twin Cities provide similar services. But Gibson is convinced that pro-life efforts both inside and outside the hospital played a role in its decision to end abortion services outside rare “emergency” situations.

He also noted that this event marks a milestone in the fight against abortion in Minnesota.

“We’re in brand new territory,” he said. “This is the first abortion facility to close because of pro-lifers in Minnesota, ever. And, it’s the first one that I’m aware of to close in more than two decades. So, this is a very significant moment in time. . . . There is hope that we can really affect what’s going on with abortion, and bring an end to abortion clinics.”

According to the 40 Days for Life website (, this marks the 19th time nationally that an abortion facility has closed following a 40 Days for Life campaign.

Gibson’s organization has held seven such vigils at Regions, with the most recent one concluding Nov. 6. Archbishop John Nienstedt attended, as did Catholics from several parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Gibson said that more than 5,000 people have attended the seven 40 Days for Life events at Regions over the last three years, with about 1,000 coming this year. They have been held twice a year, once during Lent and once in the fall.

Also joyful at the news of the abortion facility closing is Sharon Wilson, respect life coordinator for the archdiocesan Office of Marriage, Family and Life.?She said her office has been playing a support role in the prayer vigils by getting the word out to parishes in an effort to draw pro-lifers to Regions for the events.

“I think this success — and it’s a huge success — is going to reinvigorate the pro-life community,” she said. “We really have not seen a lot of progress in the work that we’ve been trying to do, at least legislatively. I think there’s going to be a resurgence. People are excited, I think, about it. It’ll help bring more people to continue the fight.”

New challenge

And, the fight is expected to continue, if not grow more intense in the months ahead. Tempering the victory is the construction of Planned Parenthood’s new facility on University Avenue in St. Paul. Though abortions in Minnesota are decreasing, based on figures from the state’s Department of Health (11,505 were done in 2010, a 7 percent decrease from 2009 and the lowest number since 1975), the new Planned Parenthood facility could move the figure up again.

“I’d certainly like to be hopeful enough to think that we could close that down, and maybe we can,” Wilson said.


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