Shawn Carney, the creator of 40 Days For Life, speaks to more than 200 anti-abortion activists during a kickoff program for a 40 day vigil at St. Joseph Catholic Church on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, in Marietta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Georgia abortion opponents begin 40-day vigil outside area clinics

A leading anti-abortion activist encouraged a room of more than 200 people to continue fighting to outlaw the procedure in Georgia.

Shawn Carney, creator of the “40 Days For Life” project, said Georgia is leading the fight to end abortion in the country.

“Georgia is a state that is trying to do what it can to be abortion-free,” Carney said Tuesday during the kickoff for the “40 Days For Life” event in Marietta. “It’s not just legislation, because that’s not what we do, but they’re doing the work at the grassroots level.”

Carney and his wife were portrayed in “Unplanned,” a film based on the book by the same name by Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director who is now an anti-abortion activist.

Gov. Brian Kemp in May signed one of the country’s strictest abortion laws, which outlaws the procedure in most cases once a doctor can detect fetal cardiac activity.

The 40-day anti-abortion campaign, where volunteers are planning to stand outside the Planned Parenthood in Marietta and other locations across the country, began Wednesday and will last through Nov. 3.

“This is a powerful opportunity to advocate for women by showing they deserve better than abortion and we care and will help,” said Rachel Guy, who is leading the Marietta campaign.

Carney said more than 500 similar events will be held across the country, including outside the Feminist Women’s Health Center in Atlanta and three other locations in Georgia.

Activists say the “sidewalk counseling” and prayer vigils help deter women who are considering abortion.

Volunteers will be outside abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood in Marietta from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily for 40 days.

Liz McMaster, a stay-at-home mother from Marietta, said she’s demonstrated outside of abortion clinics before, but this year is the first time she will be part of “40 Days For Life.”

“This is different because I believe there’s power in numbers,” she said. “You’re with like-minded people doing like-hearted things.”

The vigil began two days after abortion rights activists argued in federal court that the state’s new anti-abortion law should not be allowed to go into effect in January. U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones has not yet issued a ruling.

Georgia’s law is one of several that have moved through Republican-run state governments across the country with the express purpose of challenging Roe v. Wade.

Anti-abortion activists have seized upon the opportunity created after last year’s appointment of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, tilting the bench in the favor of conservatives.

Carney encouraged those in the room Tuesday to continue fighting to end abortion, calling it the “greatest injustice of our time.

“It’s the defining moral issue of your generation, my generation and every generation after us until it ends,” he said.

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