By Gene Fadness
If you drive along busy Franklin Road in Meridian, just west of Eagle Road, you will likely see people walking the sidewalk peacefully praying or speaking with passers-by who choose to engage them.
They are near the entrance of the Planned Parenthood Clinic, the site that has the state’s highest number of abortions performed. There is more activity than normal these days because the national 40 Days for Life organization is having its fall prayer campaign, a 40-day effort that began Sept. 22 and ends Oct. 31. The organization also has a 40-day spring campaign that begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes on Palm Sunday.
Two of the many prayer warriors who pray outside the clinic are Teresa Carlson, a longtime participant in the local 40 Days for Life effort, and Roland Corral, a newer participant, but longtime pro-life advocate who has recently moved here from California.
Carlson prays largely because four mothers in crisis pregnancy who chose life over abortion gave Carlson new life as well.
A native Idahoan raised on a farm in Buhl as the youngest of eight children in a devout Catholic family, Carlson didn’t get involved in the pro-life movement until after she was married and had four children – all adopted from Korea.
“Not being able to conceive a child was a huge disappointment, but as time went on, God opened the door to adopt,” Carlson said. “And we are blessed four times over. Not only did their birth mothers choose life, but those birth mothers also gave life to my husband and me. I pray for those women often remembering the great sacrifice they made.”
Before then, the pro-life cause was not foremost in her mind. “After I moved to Boise, I would hear snippets on the news of women’s rights and pro-abortionists, but I always pushed it to the back of my brain because in my naïve state, I thought, ‘Who would ever approve a pro-abortion law. Who would ever kill a baby on purpose? That will never happen!’ Boy was I wrong.”
Carlson, now a parishioner at St. John the Evangelist Cathedral, said praying outside of Planned Parenthood with 40 Days for Life might be viewed by some as an “eerie thing, but eerie in a spiritual way because I’m just there praying, praying for hearts to be changed, that somehow without me seeing or hearing anyone, a mom will be saved from devastating heartache later,” she said.
“Most days we don’t have the opportunity to speak with anyone,” she said noting that those praying are limited to staying on the sidewalk that runs along Franklin Road, making it difficult to speak with any-one who might be contemplating abortion. “We have friendly signage to encourage them to approach us,” she said. Sometimes they do.
“Two weeks ago, I spoke with a young woman who rolled down her window for me. After I told her we were there to provide hope and help, to educate and create awareness, she pointed to her 2-month-old daughter in the back seat, saying that 10 months earlier, she had gone into Planned Parenthood to get the abortion pills. She changed her mind and went across the parking area to Stanton Health Care,”
a pro-life organization where parents can get free services including ultrasounds.
“This goes to show that our presence at Planned Parenthood is very important whether we get to talk to anyone or not,” said Carlson, who has also taken a short training class to become a “Sidewalk Advocate for Life.”
“I try to pray once a week outside Planned Parent-hood all year long,” she said. While the prayer warriors are sometimes met with ridicule, people also stop and thank them for being there. “Sometimes, they share their story of the abortion they had years earlier and the grief they have gone through since,” Carlson said. “Sometimes those same people then join us to pray. I think that is a helpful way for them to heal.”
Roland Corral of Nampa traces his pro-life activity back to his young adult years when he participated in “Hands Across America,” a 1986 campaign that raised about $15 million to fight homelessness and poverty while the nation was in the midst of a recession and a housing crisis.
“I look at that as my first engagement with the pro-life cause,” said Corral, who moved here three months ago from California with his wife, April, and their three children.
One of the first things he did was get involved at St. Paul’s Parish in Nampa, join the Knights of Columbus and find out who the pro-life contacts were in the diocese. He was active in 40 Days for Life in California, making signs and praying.
“A lot of the time people are afraid to be outspoken, but you don’t even have to be that outspoken,” he said. “Just having a bumper sticker on your car or a pro-life button can save a baby’s life.”
That became very clear to him because of an incident that happened to a Catholic friend of his, a chiropractor who would wear a button that said, “Pray to End Abortion.”
A couple came to his office, both needing chiropractic adjustments. They then asked to see him a second time, this time to tell him that the day they had visited him previously was the day they has scheduled an abortion for the woman. After seeing the chiropractor’s button, they discussed it in their car for an hour and decided against the abortion.
“Just wearing a button and not saying anything changed this couple’s mind,” Corral said.
In the short time he has been here, he likes to believe that his prayerful presence is helping to change lives.
“We had a mother pull over along the side of Franklin Road. She had a toddler and said she was seven weeks pregnant and didn’t have money for diapers,” Corral said. Corral gave her support material from 40 Days for Life that directed here to where she could get a free ultrasound and help with food, diapers and clothing. “I gave her my business card and told her to call me at any time. Thankfully, she didn’t pull into the abortion clinic.”
Corral hopes to see people outside the Catholic faith join the 40 Days for Life effort. He recalls recently praying with a man of the Latter-day Saints faith who was also pro-life. “We definitely need to reach out to more of those from other churches and invite them. Being pro-life is not just a Catholic thing.”
To learn more about the 40 Days for Life campaign in the Treasure Valley go to 40daysforlife.com/en/meridian or call 208-484-0647.
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