Joan Reynolds and Mildred Roper spent part of their Monday afternoon camped out in front of Abington Memorial Hospital on Horace Avenue. Sitting next to large anti-abortion signs, the pair put donated an hour to the 40 Days for Life campaign.
Abington Memorial is one of 12 hospitals in Pennsylvania targeted by the nation-wide program, which runs through Nov. 4. According to its website, 40 Days for Life “…takes a determined, peaceful approach to showing local communities the consequences of abortion in their own neighborhoods ….”
Reynolds, of Ambler, and Roper, of Harleysville, are both members of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Ambler.
“It’s very peaceful,” Reynolds said. “We just sit here and pray the rosary and we have some literature if people want to look.”
Both said they are “very pro-life;” they’re both members of the pro-life committee at their church and they added that this Sunday is Respect Life Sunday, when the church takes donations for pro-life items like roses and stickers, to be donated to mothers and babies.
Roper said area churches have volunteers sign up for a “shift” to protest in front of the hospital … but they don’t call it protesting.
“We’re very peaceful, we don’t get in people’s faces,” Roper said. “We’re actually witnessing, we’re not protesting. Some people say that we’re protesting, but we’re not.”
Abington Memorial Hospital was likely targeted by the campaign because of its failed effort to merge with Holy Redeemer Health Systems; when the intent for the merger was announced, hospital officials said Abington Memorial, though it was to operate as an independent hospital, would stop performing abortions.
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Reynolds and Roper said they both followed the news about the merger and both said they were disappointed with the outcome.
Abington Memorial Hospital Spokeswoman Linda Millevoi said yesterday that the hospital performs between 75 to 100 abortions per year. She added that the 40 Days group reached out to the township to receive a permit for the protest and said that the protesters were not actually on hospital property.
“We remain committed to serving the community with a full range of women’s health services,” Millevoi said. “We also respect and value the opinions of others.”
Roper and Reynolds were relieved from their post at 2 p.m. As for their efforts, Roper said, “Sometimes’ you’d be surprised. Somebody might be handed something when they were going for an abortion and they’d think about it and change their minds. They say this 40 days thing is very effective.”