40 Days for Life volunteers pray at the gates of an abortion in Castellón, Spain. / Credit: 40 days for Life
ACI Prensa Staff, Mar 8, 2023 / 07:28 am (CNA).
The 40 Days for Life campaign in Spain has advised volunteers to film or record their entire prayer time due to avoid charges of harassment from abortion clinics. Volunteers sign up with the prayer movement to take a specific time slot to be at a designated abortion facility and pray.
Spain’s 40 Days for Life held a meeting chaired by its national coordinator, Nayeli Rodríguez, and with their lawyers, the organization’s 2022 guidelines on how to continue to pray in light of a crackdown on pro-life activity.
The guidelines are a series of instructions for those praying near abortion clinics to do so without giving the clinic employers and workers, pro-abortion media outlets, or the police cause to file a complaint for “harassment” of women intending to abort.
In April 2022, the socialist-communist ruling coalition in Spain amended the criminal code to establish a prison sentence “from three months to one year or community service of 31 to 80 days” for curtailing the freedom of mothers going to an abortion business by harassing them.
Specifically, the penal code refers to whoever “in order to hinder the exercise of the right to voluntary termination of pregnancy, harasses a woman through annoying, offensive, intimidating, or coercive acts that undermine her freedom.”
After the meeting, the national coordinator released several audio messages via WhatsApp insisting on the importance of volunteers recording their prayer time in order to deal with accusations of harassment or any unforeseen event.
“Please, it’s essential that as soon as you arrive at your prayer station you turn on the mobile phone’s camera” and keep it going “during the entire prayer time,” Rodríguez requested.
The national coordinator stressed in her message that it’s necessary to record what happens because “there are many circumstances that one cannot foresee and when they happen there is no time to turn on the mobile phone.”
“So please, whether it’s a video or just an audio recorder, record the entire time slot you are praying,” Rodríguez emphasized.
At the same time, the coordinator told volunteers what to do if police officers ask for identification.
“Please, every time the police come and ask for your ID, and even more so if they ask for your mobile number, ask what they are going to do with that information, why are they asking you for that information. You can refuse to give them the mobile number,” she concluded.
Cities with special difficulties
The pro-life organization described the meeting as “normal” and said the Lenten campaign is “calmer than the previous one.”
However, one volunteer saw it as an “emergency” meeting, as explained to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, because in some cities they are experiencing difficulties.
The hottest spot last week was in Castellón, where the owners of the abortion business have repeatedly reported 40 Days for Life participants to police.
Despite the fact that the volunteers have respected the law’s regulations at all times, the National Police even went so far as to remove those present on one occasion.
The controversy, which has been fueled at the local level by abortion supporters, has led to 40 Days for Life in Castellón experiencing a remarkable growth in volunteers.
Prohibited from praying aloud
In Malaga, a National Police officer allegedly insisted that the volunteers take away their signs and leave.
“The police came one of the days and told the volunteers that either they remove everything or they would be arrested, that what they were doing was illegal,” 40 Days for Life told ACI Prensa.
The presence of the local coordinator, who insisted to the officers that the gathering was legal, managed to avoid their being taken away. However, every day a patrol goes by the place and takes down the IDs of those present.
On another occasion, when five volunteers were meditating on the rosary, “they were told they couldn’t pray out loud,” 40 Days for Life sources said.
“They weren’t shouting it out either, they were praying with a normal tone of voice to hear each other. The group continued there praying in an even lower tone,” the same sources said.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.