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Reflections on a 40 Days for Life Prayer Vigil


By Michele Troutman

Today, Jesus opened my heart and gave me a new and awesome perspective on something that I was not sure of in the beginning.

This morning was cold, and we were on the sidewalk with traffic passing back and forth. It is Holy Family Prayer day at the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic.

I was happy to see familiar faces around me. There were about six members of my Catholic family around me (some of whom I had just met for the first time.) It started out with Dad (who is my live-in ride), myself, Rilene Simpson, and Anne Marie Chrisoulis, who is the Diocese of San Jose Respect Life Coordinator. Two of the participants wore placards that read “Pray to End Abortion” around their necks that announced the cause that the group was representing. Later, Father Celso, the parochial vicar at Holy Family, and some other prayer partners joined in, holding signs and praying.

The question of abortion has always been somewhat fuzzy for me. I was not sure where I stood on the issue. I had started out with the notion that I was pro-life, but I did not want to push my agenda on to anyone else’s belief system.

I thought a 40 Days for Life Vigil was going to be scary, dangerous and overwhelming. It turned out to be, for me, a very powerful and peaceful experience. I learned that we aren’t trying to change minds, but hearts. We are just trying to get pregnant women to see that there are other options that they have besides killing their child through abortion.

We all stood in the cold and prayed fervently in earnest for many issues dealing with abortion, especially the souls of aborted babies, and for the mothers of unborn babies to turn around and not have an abortion. We prayed to God that new mothers make the choice of life for their unborn children, rather than death. We prayed for the abortion workers, and for healing for mothers and fathers who had chosen abortion in the past. We prayed the rosary over and over again.

This belief in pro-life is especially important to me. You see, I am a 40-year-old disabled woman whose parents chose to raise and love a three-month-premature baby with severe disabilities and not “abort” me. I have a wonderful beautiful relationship with Jesus Christ who wanted me to live, be happy and be good to other people. If my parents had aborted me, my family and I would have been robbed of the incredible life I have now.

I hold that thought in contrast to the CBS News report that Iceland has “eliminated” Downs Syndrome births by aborting 100% of DS babies. Downs is not my handicap, but it is a hard thing to think that a child’s life is devalued because she or he is not perfect.

Eventually our time at the vigil together ended; we had stayed more than two hours. But it was a very important and valuable endeavor. Everyone has the right to live and to be loved. Pregnant mothers who are overwhelmed need to know that they have support from the community of people and that abortion is not the answer. There are many alternatives such as adoption, financial support, and counseling, to help cope with being an overwhelmed new parent.

But how can the moms know, unless someone on the sidewalk tells them? And who will speak for the babies, if we don’t?

I know at least one heart was changed today – mine! I’ll be back for the Spring campaign.

Michele Troutman has been an active Holy Family parishioner for 34 years. She has been involved in many ministries including Stephen’s Ministry and Cursillo, and she founded the Awakenings Prayer Group, where people with disabilities can meet and know they are not alone. Having been born three months prematurely 40 years ago, she is especially sensitive to the fragility of new life.