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Denver Newsroom, Sep 28, 2022 / 13:30 pm (CNA).

The first 40 Days for Life campaign in Spain since the government criminalized what is deemed harassment at abortion businesses by pro-lifers begins today and ends Nov. 6. 

In response to the new legislation, which amended the Penal Code and went into effect in April, the campaign of prayer and fasting announced on its website a series of guidelines to avoid being arrested.

The amended code establishes “a prison sentence of three months to one year or community service from 31 to 80 days” for whoever undermines the freedom of women at an abortion center.

The law penalizes anyone who “in order to hinder the exercise of the right to voluntary interruption of pregnancy harasses a woman through annoying, offensive, intimidating, or coercive acts that undermine her freedom.”

40 Days for Life reminded its volunteers that “prayer saves lives” and that their mission is to “pray peacefully, so that at no time can there be an act of harassment.”

The prayer movement advises participants to exclusively use a sign reading “You are not alone, we can help you,” and if possible to identify themselves with the 40 Days for Life official wear.

Participants are cautioned about the presence of people not part of 40 Days for Life: “Make sure your fellow time slot members have signed up for the vigil. If you don’t know someone in your time slot, try to focus on prayer and limit your conversation.”

The organization stressed that “now more than ever” it is necessary to maintain “exemplary behavior” in such a way that in case of verbal aggression to not respond and to continue praying.

If the situation persists, the participant should notify the “captain” responsible for the time slot and call the police. If possible, a video of the situation should be taken with a mobile phone “but not forwarded.”

In case of physical aggression, the police should be called.

It’s not uncommon for abortion center owners to notify the police of the presence of pro-lifers near their businesses, so in this case, it is recommended that everyone interact with the police in such a way that “there is no leading voice.”

If the police ask for identification, it’s recommended to ask the reason in a polite way and to show the National Identity Document.

40 Days for Life also foresees that a police officer may state that either someone can’t be at that place praying or that “praying is a crime.” In that case, participants are urged to be polite but to question such a statement and ask why he or she can’t be there, for example: “What am I doing wrong?” or “How should I act?”

In the event that the police insist that the volunteer must leave the place, 40 Days for Life is blunt: “Obey, never confront the police,” and “remember, they’re only doing their job.”

All these guidelines have been given despite the fact that 40 Days for Life considers that the change to the Penal Code criminalizing the actions of pro-lifers “doesn’t affect us” because “this law does not apply to us.”

“40 Days for Life is limited to praying at a fixed spot in a peaceful and silent way. Don’t engage anyone; don’t go over to speak with women who want to abort or with health care workers. Therefore, it’s IMPOSSIBLE for there to be harassment,” they stressed.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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