By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 18, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Pro-lifers are gearing up for the start of a new 40 Days for Life campaign starting September 23, during which tens of thousands of pro-lifers across America and the world will join in the popular semi-annual marathon of prayer, fasting, abortion clinic vigil, and community activism to help save unborn lives.

212 cities in 45 U.S. states, 5 Canadian provinces, and Denmark have signed on to the latest campaign, making it the largest 40 Days for Life thus far.

"With abortion advocates trying to exploit the current health care reform debate to mandate taxpayer funding of abortion," said David Bereit, national director of 40 Days for Life, "we are incredibly encouraged to see record numbers of people in cities across America willing to take a stand by participating in 40 Days for Life to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves and seek God's protection for innocent children in the womb - and mothers - at risk of abortion."

The campaign, completed four times in the past two years, has exploded in popularity and reaped enormous benefits. The campaign's coordinators said that, in these four campaigns:

- 466 local efforts have taken place in 240 separate cities in all 50 states plus seven other nations
- More than 200,000 people have participated
- More than 4,000 churches have been involved
- At least 1,517 babies were spared from abortion
- At least 17 clinic employees quit their jobs
- Three abortion facilities closed their doors following 40 Days for Life campaigns 

In the last campaign, from February 25 to April 5 of this year, 135 cities in the United States, Canada, Australia and Northern Ireland joined the initiative.  During that campaign alone, 40 Days for Life received reports of 389 babies saved from abortion while pro-lifers were on vigil. 

Bereit also served as a key organizer for the Stop the Abortion Mandate coalition, which brought together more than 70 pro-life organizations. The coalition held a highly successful nationwide webcast in July, drawing an audience of more than 36,000 Americans to oppose the abortion mandates in current health care reform proposals. Over 100,000 letters, e-mails, and calls to Congress were generated in response to coalition efforts.

On the heels of these successful pro-life efforts, a much smaller coalition recently announced its own campaign called "40 Days for Health Reform" to push abortion-laden health care reform. The group has organized a series of events, including a conference call today featuring President Obama.

"Some say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but using the biblical 40-days concept in an attempt to salvage floundering health care reform proposals that would mandate taxpayer funding of abortion and force Americans into health plans with mandatory abortion coverage - we are anything but flattered," said Bereit.

"I am confident that the prayers of millions of people, imploring God to inspire people to turn away from abortion, will be a much more powerful force in shaping the future."

Click here to find a 40 Days for Life location near you. 

For more information on the campaign click here.