— By

Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — Madelyn Fijalek hardly fits the image of a protester.

But there she was with a half-dozen others outside Augusta Family Planning on Wednesday, taking part in the 40 Days for Life campaign.

”We believe in the power of prayer,” Fijalek said. ”We believe in the Bible, God’s law. Man is making his own law. We’ve got to get back to God.”

Wednesday was the beginning of Lent and the first day of the international 40 Days for Life campaign, an anti-abortion initiative that organizes prayer vigils outside abortion facilities.

For 40 days, volunteers from across Maine will pray in front of Augusta Family Planning on Gabriel Drive from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., said Janet LeBlanc, who is organizing the effort.

”We know that 40 Days for Life has made a difference in the Augusta area,” LeBlanc said.

The heart of the 40-day campaign is prayer, said Mary Ellen Fletcher. The group prays for women who are considering abortions and for those who work at the clinics.

”We pray for the change of hearts and minds,” she said.

Sue Jones McPhee, spokeswoman for the Family Planning Association of Maine, said previous campaigns have had no significant impact on the association’s clients.

”They have a right to their opinions,” McPhee said. ”I can’t stop them from utilizing their right to protest or stand out there and make statements.”

This year’s campaign will include displays of graphic images at Gabriel and Civic Center drives, LeBlanc said. The pictures will be on display Thursday mornings.

”It’s there to help people understand the reality of what is happening,” LeBlanc said. ”Often, women are told the baby is a glob of tissue. This shows it is not. It’s an actual person.”

McPhee said the pictures are designed to elevate emotions.

”I think everybody would agree it’s another step. It’s more than words,” she said. ”They want to ban abortions and they’ll use any means to do so.”

For more information, call Leslie Sneddon at 607-3488 or go to www.40daysforlife.com/augusta-maine.