CHARLESTON—As it nears the home stretch, support for the 40 Days for Life campaign remains strong.
According to Tom Barber, the local vigil coordinator, participation has not waned, even after a doctor who works at one of the clinics pulled a gun on some of the protestors outside of Charleston Women’s Medical Clinic on Ashley River Road.
Dr. Gary Boyle, from Blountville, Tenn., was arrested Oct. 2 on charges of pointing a firearm at three men, according to the arrest report. Boyle told officers that three men approached his SUV, and he presented the gun because he was in fear for the safety of his wife, who was in the car with him, and himself, according to the report.
However, one of the alleged victims, who requested not to be identified, said Boyle’s version of events, as stated in the report, were not accurate.
The protestor said he and the other two men were standing on the sidewalk in front of an adjacent dental office and talking when Dr. Boyle drove by them and pointed a firearm at them. The protestor said it was completely unprovoked, that he and the others were never on clinic property and never approached the doctor.
He added that had they been on clinic property, they would have been arrested for trespassing.
The 40 Days vigil has continued without further incident and the encounter has not affected participation, Barber told The Miscellany.
“No one has expressed great concern about being out there. Nobody has called and said they are not coming out,” Barber said.
One thing that has changed is in addition to praying for the lives of unborn infants and their mothers, Boyle has been added to the list.
“Immediately that morning a group of us that were there made a circle, held hands and prayed for him,” said Barber, a member of Immaculate Conception Church in Goose Creek. “We continue to do so and I put out an e-mail asking [participants] to do so. We’re praying for him to experience a conversion experience, life-giving repentance and therefore eventually forgiveness and healing through Jesus Christ our Savior.”
The round-the-clock prayer vigil is designed to be a peaceful one and while both sides of the abortion issue may be present, the 40 Days for Life contingent does not engage abortion proponents, Barber said.
Kathy Schmugge, assistant director of the Office of Family Life for the Diocese of Charleston, said she was initially concerned that the event would be blown out of proportion. She was relieved to hear from the campaign coordinators in Greenville and Columbia that nothing has changed and people are not afraid.
“The folks that go out there have a spirit about them, they have faith and trust in God,” she said. “There’s nothing to indicate that the abortion clinic is a fatal place except for the mother and child who go in there.”
The campaign will end Oct. 31. Participants do not have to attend a vigil; they can support life by praying and fasting during the campaign. Visit www.40daysforlife.com.