By Meg Jalsevac

HOUSTON, Texas, October 2, 2006 ( – On September 29, Houston’s Coalition for Life completed its first ‘40 Days for Life’ vigil outside the busy Houston Planned Parenthood Clinic which boasted 6,376 abortions performed in 2005.ÂÂ From August 15 at 7:00 am to September 29 at 5:00 pm (Sundays not included), a minimum of two peaceful and prayerful protesters maintained a vigil on the sidewalk of the busy street in front of the Planned Parenthood Clinic that performs abortions on women from all over Southeastern Texas.ÂÂ Trained pro-life sidewalk counselors were present during all hours that the clinic was open for business.Â

This specific time of year was chosen for the vigil, despite blistering heat reaching as high as 99 degrees, in an effort to combat Planned Parenthood’s expansion plans for their Houston Clinic. As it stands right now, Texas Law mandates that abortions performed after a baby is in its 16th week of development must be performed at a surgical ambulatory center. The Houston Planned Parenthood Clinic is moving to a new location that will include such a center so that they will not lose revenue by having to refer 2nd and 3rd trimester abortions to another facility.ÂÂ

Christine Melchor, executive director of Houston Coalition for Life, explained that the vigil was an effort spearheaded by the Houston Coalition for Life but greatly assisted by area and national pro-life groups and numerous volunteers. Local businesses and individuals came forward with offers of financial assistance and supplies for the vigil. A local water company donated 1280 bottles of water for the vigil keepers and one individual donated funds for the printing of thousands of flyers. The most moving donations were from two homeless men that the pro-lifers befriended during their 40 day vigil on the street. One homeless man gave $4 and another man gave $1. They said that they wanted to do their part to help. A homeless, pregnant mother sat and prayed and socialized with the pro-lifers every day that they kept their vigil. She herself would approach other pregnant women heading in to the clinic and offer them pro-life literature.ÂÂ

Parishes, schools, families and individuals all came forward to cover hours for the vigil. Houston Coalition for Life also seized this opportunity for a large scale effort to educate the population of Houston to the Planned Parenthood agenda for their area. Volunteers handed out thousands of flyers in the Houston area in a door to door evangelization effort that also extended to the local community college where almost every student received a flyer with the pro-life message. A number of students who were pregnant were directed to a counseling pregnancy center and given other options than abortion.

People who could not partake in the vigil received a daily email reminding them of the prayer intention of the day and updating them about the vigil.ÂÂ Those who could not attend in person were encouraged to instead pray and fast wherever they were.Â

Melchor said the fruits of the vigil and other efforts were obvious throughout the 40 days.Â

In only the second week of the prayer vigil, one of the other most notorious abortion mills in Houston closed down for no given reason after being in operation for over 20 years. Two pro-life protestors were present and praying at that clinic when the closure was announced and actually helped to remove the clinic sign from the building. Melchor said they conservatively estimate that at least 35 women were directed away from the Planned Parenthood clinic for pregnancy testing and 3 babies were saved from abortion. 12 other women left the clinic for various reasons without having an abortion. Even the Planned Parenthood escorts seemed to have a softening of heart and engaged in courteous conversation and asked genuine questions of the protesters. One escort, known for his rudeness to pro-lifers, even referred a couple over to the vigil keepers for a free pregnancy test instead of directly escorting them inside the clinic.ÂÂ

Melchor is not sure if the ‘40 Days of Prayer’ vigil will be an annual event in Houston or not. She adds that the fruits of the vigil have prompted the Houston Coalition for Life to jump in to coordinating the Campaign for Life – a similar but smaller scale effort to have peaceful protestors in front of the clinic at least 4 hours a day during the week and 5 or 6 hours on Saturday. She hopes the effects of the ‘40 Days for Life’ will keep benefiting the Houston community, “Its amazing what can happen when God’s people come together united with a common goal. People of many faiths gathered at the site where babies are dying and mothers are being exploited and offered their prayers and sacrifices to God for an end to abortion and then abandoned the results to Him.”Â

See the website for the Houston Coalition for Life:ÂÂ

See the website for the Houston ‘40 Days for Life’: