The Catholic Commentator 

When 40 Days for Life wrapped up its fall campaign in Baton Rouge, the numbers told the story. More than 1,400 people stood outside the Delta Women’s Clinic and prayed for an end to abortion. More than 35 different churches and church groups signed up to adopt a time to pray. And, there were 14 saves. 

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File photo/ The Catholic Commentator


“(These were) women that specifically said, ‘I have changed my mind. I am not going to have an abortion,’ ” said Danielle Van Haute, Respect Life Coordinator for the Diocese of Baton Rouge. 

Van Haute said that knowing these women changed their minds about ending a life is encouraging, but it’s much more than that. Those decisions will extend beyond these 40 Days, into the years to come and across generations. 

“So, yes, these 14 women changed their minds, but how that will touch the lives of other people. We can’t calculate that and there are so many others that we know were moved in ways that we will never know on this side of heaven, because we can’t always see the affects of our prayer,” said Van Haute.

Hunter Hardin, 45, a parishioner at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in St. Francisville, was among those who stood in prayer outside the clinic, usually during his lunch break from work. He went as often as possible during the campaign, which stretched from Sept. 27 – Nov. 5. 

“I was adopted in 1972 and Roe v. Wade happened in January 1973, the very next year,” said Hardin. “I was born a ward of the state at charity hospital to a 16-year-old girl. I could have easily been aborted. So this is very near to my heart. And it’s a neat thing for me. I pray for the mothers, the babies, for my birth mother, for my parents that adopted me. It’s a multi-faceted and dynamic experience for me.” 

Co-campaign directors were Van Haute along with Charles and Clelie Carpenter of Bethany Church of Baton Rouge. According to Van Haute, there was an increase in participation from other church denominations thanks to the involvement of Bethany Church, which has several campuses in the Baton Rouge area. Hardin sometimes brought his family, wife Michele, and children, Katelyn, 20, John Paul, 18, and Mary Grace, 16.

“I even prayed with my father who is a member of Bethany Church, so that was really special,” said Hardin. 

Besides the powerful unity of prayer, the presence of those praying can be a powerful force. Van Haute said that one day during the campaign, a woman with a 4-year-old child in the back seat of her car stopped to talk to those praying outside the clinic. 

“She mentioned to the sidewalk counselors and the folks that were there that when she was pregnant, she was on her way to Delta and it was that presence that stopped her from choosing abortion, so she just wanted to show them her baby,” said Van Haute. “She wanted to express her gratitude.” 

Van Haute said that even though the campaign is over, people can continue to pray outside of the clinic, located on Colonial Drive. She said people are there only to pray and not talk to the women or the workers. 

Hardin said he understands how difficult it can be to be a part of the groups publicly praying to end abortion. He said the experience can be “polarizing and uncomfortable.” And, even though he invited about 60 people to go pray at the clinic, only about a dozen showed up. 

“I get that it’s intense and not everybody’s prepared for that,” he said. “My mind races when I think about what an incredible opportunity that is to just quietly and obediently be present to a real struggle between good and evil. It’s unbelievable.”