CHARLESTON—David Bereit, the national director of 40 Days for Life, made an unplanned visit Oct. 22 to support the pro-life prayer volunteers who were recently threatened by a doctor who pointed a loaded handgun at them outside the Charleston Women’s Medical Center.
In a press conference, Bereit told a crowd of about 50 people that attempts to quash the movement only serve to strengthen the effort to save unborn children.
When Bereit heard that Dr. Gary Boyle, a Tennessee-based physician, was arrested by Charleston police on charges of pointing a firearm at three protestors Oct. 2, he made every effort to fit in the trip to the abortion facility. But he did not have to rally the pro-life troops; they were not easily rattled and remained in place.
Lily Cabading, a member of Divine Redeemer Church in Hanahan, was scheduled for the Friday after the incident. She sat and prayed alone for three hours.
“I wasn’t at all scared,” she said in an interview. “I thought if I have my rosary and my cell phone, I’m OK.”
Persistence reigned supreme, during the press conference, too. Half way through Bereit’s talk, a car alarm in the center’s parking lot went off for the rest of the event. It occasionally stopped briefly, only to start up again. It ceased when the speakers were finished, but Bereit did not falter.
In his speech he said the country was under a dark cloud due to the death of more than 50 million babies since the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973. He told the crowd that they have glimpsed the worst and the best of humanity. He thanked the volunteers, the police force for enforcing the law and keeping the peace, and the media for unbiased coverage of the Boyle incident.
“There is no room for hatred, threats and violence,” he said. “Regrettably all three have reared their ugly heads right here.”
The protesters had several choices in response to the incident, he said.
“We could have backed down, which they would have liked … we could have taken revenge, but as believers we know we are called to take a higher road,” he said. “The third option is what we must do, press forward but do so in love and in peace. Love your enemies.”
He said they must all continue to pray for the children, the parents, and the people who staff the clinic.
“We have 350,000 people taking part and there has never been an incident that 40 Days for Life participants ever acted out in hatred or violence,” he said. “We commit that where there is hatred we will sew love. We celebrate that day when no more children have to die and no more women have to cry.”
As Bereit wound up his impassioned speech, a vehicle left the clinic and the driver laid on his horn as the car passed between the speakers on one side of the street and the attendees on the other.
After the rally, Tom Barber, the local 40 Days for Life organizer, seemed nonplussed when asked if these interruptions are commonplace. He said they have seen worse and simply continue to pray for those who disagree with them.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone opened the rally with a prayer asking the Lord to help change hearts to bring closer to Christ those who might find themselves in such a difficult situation as to consider abortion.
He told The Miscellany he attended because he wanted to emphasize how important and powerful a peaceful, prayerful vigil can be.
“It is a demonstration of who we are in essence,” he said. “We can’t demonize those with whom we disagree. We have to remember we are Christians.”