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Planned Parenthood's Washington, D.C. centerClaire Chretien / LifeSiteNews

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Priests for Life) — The National March for Life is this Friday, January 18th, along with a kaleidoscope of other pro-life activities that even those of us who do pro-life work full time have difficulty keeping up with.

But among the most fundamental of those other activities is the National Protest of Planned Parenthood that takes place on the day before the March. Priests for Life is privileged to organize this event. On Thursday morning, January 17th, pro-life activists will join me and other national pro-life leaders for a vigil of prayer and preaching in front of the Planned Parenthood facility at 1225 Fourth Street NE in Washington from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

This prayerful protest – carried out in accordance with the law and in communication with local law enforcement, which has given us a permit — has been taking place for many years on the day before the march, sometimes drawing up to a thousand young people on the sidewalks. It used to occur on 16th Street, the previous location of the DC Planned Parenthood, which then closed.

When it moved to its new location, some of the locals complained because there is a school next door to the killing center. But they were not complaining to Planned Parenthood for killing children; they were complaining to us for protesting the killing of children, because we were allegedly upsetting the children in the school. The hypocrisy is mind-boggling.

But this Thursday, we will gather again. As we gather, we recall that Planned Parenthood is an evil and corrupt organization, first and foremost because it kills babies. It also sells their body parts. Planned Parenthood likewise deliberately skirts its obligation to report suspected child sexual abuse. It works to elect pro-abortion politicians. And it is currently under multiple investigations.

When we protest this Thursday, moreover, we are not only standing against Planned Parenthood. We’re standing against the entire abortion industry, which is much bigger. Planned Parenthood commits about one-third of the abortions in America. The other two-thirds occur in killing centers, doctors’ offices and hospitals that are not affiliated with Planned Parenthood but that are just as corrupt. We come to stand against it all and urge that all the killing stop, no matter who is doing it.

We come, moreover, in a spirit of solidarity with the moms, dads, grandparents, and others who are coming there for appointments. We who reject abortion don’t reject those who have abortions. Rather, we embrace them with compassionate care.

We don’t stand in front of these facilities pointing fingers of condemnation but rather extending hands of help and hope. Moms don’t get abortions because of “freedom of choice.” They get them because they feel they have no freedom and no choice. They feel trapped, abandoned, desperate, isolated and afraid. We gather for them. We gather to say, “Be not afraid … you are not alone … take our hand, we will help you and your baby.”

We are there, representing the tens of thousands of pro-life people working in pregnancy centers nationwide, ready to provide alternatives to abortion.

Bringing young people to this event, and coming ourselves, is a powerful way to teach and reinforce this attitude, which we then bring back to our communities as we continue protesting abortion nationwide.

We will pray on Thursday morning for all of those around the country and the world who are tempted to abort, and for all working to stop the abortions. We will pray that all the abortion facilities – Planned Parenthood and otherwise – will close. We will pray that all the wounded find healing.

And we will remember the moms who were killed along with their children, in numbers greater than we know. We will read a long list of such names, commend them to the Lord, and challenge the abortion industry to be accountable for those deaths – of the moms they claim to champion – as well as for the deaths of their children.

Coming to Planned Parenthood this Thursday morning, January 17th, from 8 to 11 a.m., brings us to the core of what motivates all the other events of this week. At church services, rallies, speeches, and educational conferences, pro-life people will be speaking and praying about the killing of children by abortion. On Thursday morning, we will confront it face to face. This event brings us right to the core of this movement and what motivates it. We must stop the killing. Nothing will fire us up more effectively to do that than by going to where the killing happens, letting it break our hearts, and demanding – face to face with the evil – that it stop.

Fr. Frank Pavone is National Director of Priests for Life, one of the world’s largest organizations focused exclusively on ending abortion. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For the full schedule of his activities this week, see www.PriestsForLife.org/MarchForLife.