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Demonstration targets Emma Goldman

BY BILL COONEY | FEBRUARY 26, 2015 5:00 AM

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Members of Forty Days for Life, a national anti-abortion campaign, will demonstrate outside Iowa City’s Emma Goldman Clinic during the 40 days of Lent.

The worldwide campaign began on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 15.

“We’re not going to be protesting; we will be peacefully praying and trying to change the mind of anyone going into the clinic by talking to her before she makes her decision to get an abortion,” said Sheryl Schwager the local organizer of 40 Days for Life as well as the director of Johnson County Right to Life. 

The anti-abortion movement was started in College Station, Texas, as a one-time campaign.

It proved so successful, it saw expansion and now takes place in more than 200 cities in 19 countries, said Steve Karlen, who is on the national board for 40 Days.

“Our mission is to end abortion peacefully and prayerfully through vigils and education, like the one currently being held right now,” he said “We’re very happy with the amount of growth and expansion we’ve seen in recent years.”

Initially, the idea was to have demonstrators outside every day in the weeks leading up to Easter from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

However, they have not been out every day in Iowa City because of the cold weather and concern for people’s safety, Schwager said.

Jennifer Price, a co-director of the Emma Goldman, said there have been 13 demonstrators since the campaign began Feb. 18, but none have been outside the clinic since Monday.

“We keep count of the number of protesters because of our pledge-a-picketer program,” Price said. “We have donors who agree to donate a certain amount to the clinic for every picketer we have.”
40 Days for Life also holds a campaign in the fall in which there is usually a larger turnout, Price said.

Emma Goldman will hold its own campaign during Lent titled 40 Days, 40 Ways, in which every day the clinic will post on its Facebook page a different way to support the clinic.

For example, on Day Five (Monday), the clinic used Facebook to recommend participating in a monthly giving program.

The National Abortion Federation, a professional association of abortion providers, reported on its website that 92 percent of responding clinics were concerned for the safety of their patients approaching the facility.

Price said the Emma Goldman have not felt threatened or intimidated by the demonstrators.

“I’ve seen them standing outside and praying, but they haven’t been disruptive or anything like that,” Price said. “We encourage our patients not to talk to them on their way inside, but we have not felt threatened by the protesters while this has been going on.”


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