ITHACA, NY – Despite the signs, it’s not a protest, they say, but a prayer vigil. A small group of activists stationed outside of Planned Parenthood on Seneca Street have been engaged in 40-day campaign to call attention to what their literature calls “the evil of abortion.”

The campaign, called “40 Days for Life” is nationwide but calls upon members of individual communities to take part, through three methods: personal prayer and fasting, community outreach (including door-to-door petitions and education drives) and prayer vigils, like the one on Seneca Street.

This particular campaign is nearly over — set to end on Nov. 6. Those taking part in the prayer vigil have been taking varying shifts in groups of varying size at the site throughout the month. The 40 days draws on a theme seen throughout the bible, such as the rains lasting for 40 days in the story of Noah’s ark and numerous other examples.

“We’re here to make a statement. That statement is, that what’s happening across the road, is wrong. And what’s happening in the country is wrong,” said one of the demonstrators, who declined to be named.

The man said the group opposed abortion in all its forms. Asked if that included situations involving the life of the mother, he said, “The pro-abortion people like to point to these exceptions,but basically, in this country, abortions are done for any reason.”

The demonstrators said they’ve gotten both positive and negative feedback from passersby. One of the demonstrators said that a woman had come to thank them, because when she saw people holding a similar vigil outside the clinic, she had been inspired to keep her child.

Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.