By Debbie Shelley

The Catholic Commentator  

Around 1,600 people created a culture of life outside Delta Clinic in Baton Rouge, one of three abortion clinics in Louisiana, during the annual 40 Days for Life Campaign, according to Danielle Van Haute, Respect Life coordinator for the Diocese of Baton Rouge.  

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St. John the Baptist Church in Zachary was one of many churches in the Diocese of Baton Rouge participating in 40 Days for Life.  Photos provided by Danielle Van Haute  


“Overall, we had another great campaign,” said Van Haute, who noted that 14 mothers said they would give life to their babies.  

“But that is not our ‘success,’   Van Haute said. “That is God moving. And even if we were not aware of any moms who chose life we would still be out there because that is what we are called to do.” 

She said the campaign succeeded in gathering the community to fast and pray and increase awareness of the harm of abortion.  

“It’s also an opportunity to let people know about all the women’s crisis centers, Catholic Charities (of the Diocese of Baton Rouge) and all of the resources that are available to moms and dads in those situations,” Van Haute said.  

The campaign also opened the eyes of people who were unaware abortions are being performed in Baton Rouge.  

“It’s always interesting. Inevitably, people will drive by and stop, and two people walked by, and they had no idea it (Delta Clinic) was an abortion facility. We are helping people to realize this is happening right here in our community,” Van Haute said.  

The campaign was also a succesful ecumenical effort, with more than 45 different participating churches or groups.  

“While certainly (doctrinal) differences exist, we can unite in prayer for this common desire that we end abortion,” said Van Haute.  

People traveled from other areas, including Lafayette, Houma and Opelousas to join the effort, said Van Haute.  

“It’s a beautiful example of the body of Christ at work, because people who don’t have an abortion facility in their area come in to join their prayers with ours,” Van Haute said.  

For first-time participants, even if they prayed during a day when Delta was not open, it was a poignant moment to stand in front of the building where abortions are performed, according to Van Haute.  

“Many of their comments were that it was difficult to be there and see the women going in and coming out and the pain surrounding that,” Van Haute said. “They were grateful to be a peaceful presence and to join their prayers and fasting for these women and their boyfriends and husbands and the workers (in the abortion industry).  

“What we pray for is conversion for everyone, even the workers that they will leave and begin a new life with work that brings health and healing.”  

She said it’s interesting to note that 40 Days for Life started with a handful of people from Texas looking for a way to impact their local community and without actively trying to promote it, the campaign spread because people recognized the power in prayer and fasting.  

This year’s campaign also had participation from the homebound, those in nursing homes, the hospitalized and the imprisoned, beamed Van Haute.  

She contacted parish coordinators of ministries serving these people and urged them to encourage the people they minister to participate through prayer. Devotional guides were purchased for this.  

This was also the first time for inmates at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola to join 40 Days for Life.  

Angola prison chaplain Jay Jackson said 40-50 prayed at the prison’s Our Lady of Guadalupe chapel.  

“They felt empowered because they were involved in the work of the diocese. They were very honored to participate,” said Jackson.  

Van Haute said she appreciated their enthusiasm.  

“It was a gift to have those prayers, because this is an effort undertaken by the body of Christ,” she said. 

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St. Aloysius Church in Baton Rouge was one of many churches in the Diocese of Baton Rouge participating in 40 Days for Life.