Forty years have passed since the Supreme Court landmark decision of Roe v. Wade gave women the freedom to have an abortion.
Pro-life supporters in the Killeen area pray that 40 days of public fasting and faith in front of the Killeen Women’s Health Center will change that.
“We will have at least three churches in Harker Heights and Killeen, one from Copperas Cove and one each from Temple and Belton participating in the 40 Days for Life vigil,” said local organizer Dennis DeWine of Harker Heights.
DeWine is associated with Central Texas Voices for Life, a Catholic ministry whose mission is to preserve life.
“We are coming together for the vigil in Killeen because that is where the only abortion clinic in Bell County is,” DeWine said.
Pat Galanffy of Killeen helped start the vigil five years ago and has participated every year since.
“I attend because I’m a huge believer that prayer changes things. I have seen it happen,” she said. “At the vigil, people put aside doctrinal differences and come together in the body of Christ to end abortion.”
The subject of abortion strikes a personal chord in Galanffy, too.
“The thought crossed my mind when I was very young and found myself pregnant
and unwed,” she said. “But, it only crossed my mind for about five seconds. I grew up in a Christian home. So abortion was not an option for me. I have had family members who have had abortions. But, regardless, attending the vigil is just the right thing to do.”
Lovette Vasser has been on both sides of the abortion issue. Pregnant at age 16, she turned to abortion but was denied because she had an infection. She carried the baby to full term.
Three months after giving birth, she was pregnant again and went to an abortion clinic. She was sobbing, so the clinic turned her away and refused to conduct the abortion. She returned the next day.
“I gave my best Oscar performance. I cried in the car, but held in my tears when I was in the clinic,” Vasser said. “The nurse did a sonogram and told me that my baby girl just kept kicking. When I looked at the monitor, she turned it away, and I had the abortion.”
Five months later, she was pregnant again and had another abortion. After the abortions, she attempted suicide, smoked marijuana, and had multiple sexual partners.
“No one told me my self-worth and I gave myself away,” Vasser said.
She later married and lied to her husband and doctors about her pregnancies. After a doctor’s visit, her husband confronted her and she shared her story.
Today, Vasser is the mother of five children ranging in age from 6 to 21. All but the youngest child know her history with abortions.
She conducts a retreat, Rachel’s Vineyard, twice a year for women who have experienced abortion and also teaches a Bible study, Surrendering a Secret.
She also is the volunteer leader for Hope Pregnancy Centers, an abortion recovery ministry that operates two centers in Killeen, one in Copperas Cove, and one in Temple.
The centers provide Christian-based counseling for adoption and carrying pregnancies to term. They do not offer abortion as an alternative. The controversy over the abortion issue continues in the Texas Legislature. In July, House Bill 2 passed and was signed into law, requiring that all abortion clinics meet the same health requirements of an ambulatory surgical center and have access to a hospital for emergencies. All abortion clinics in Texas also must be located within 30 miles of a hospital.
Under the “sonogram law” that went into effect in Texas last year, doctors are required to conduct sonograms for pregnant women and then wait 24 hours before allowing the women to make appointments for abortions. The actual doctor performing the abortion must meet with the woman at least 24 hours prior to the procedure. Supporters of women’s reproductive rights are also speaking out on Sunday’s event. Leigh Roper of Harker Heights said she believes in a woman’s right to choose.
“There are a lot of circumstances. Pro-life and pro-choice decisions are not cut and dried,” she said. “The government should not be able to say that a woman can or cannot have an abortion. There are a lot of things to be determined by a woman (before she has a child), and she should have the right to make her own decision.”
Vigil kicks off Sunday
The 40 Days for Life vigil kicks off at 7 p.m. Sunday in the parking lot at First Baptist Church, 3310 S. W. S. Young Dr.ive, Killeen. The vigil is held in the public right-of-way outside the Killeen Women’s Health Center, 3106 S. W.S. Young Drive. Volunteers sign up to stand vigil one hour per week Wednesday through Nov. 9.
For more information, call DeWine at 254-681-6812 or go to www.40daysforlife.com/killeen.