Precious Children of Portland photo
Pro-life advocates begin a vigil in front of Planned Parenthood in Portland.
Precious Children of Portland photo
Pro-life advocates begin a vigil in front of Planned Parenthood in Portland.
Four years after pro-life activists began seeking to block construction of a large new Planned Parenthood building in Northeast Portland, they are still maintaining a presence at the site.

The task now is to remain vigilant, said a deacon who spoke March 5 at the beginning of a Lenten vigil in front of Planned Parenthood.

Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers of nearby Immaculate Heart Parish told the 75 protesters that traditional Lenten practices can be powerful.

"Prayer and fasting is how we bring the love of Christ and great kindness to the women who are seeking help," he said.

The vigil keepers plan to have a presence near the building 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

"This peaceful and loving presence sends a powerful message to the community about the tragic reality of abortion," Burke-Sivers said. "It also serves as a call to repentance for those who work at and patronize this abortion facility."

Burke-Sivers told the story of Abby Johnson, who left her job as director of a Planned Parenthood site in College Station, Texas to become a pro-life activist. She made the choice after watching a 13-week-old child fight for its life during an ultrasound-guided abortion.

Two weeks earlier in Portland, the sidewalks outside Planned Parenthood were the site of a demonstration of hundreds abortion rights advocates who oppose moves in Congress to remove federal funding from Planned Parenthood.  

"How I wish that terrible center of death and promiscuity was never constructed, but nevertheless we will continue to fight and persevere," says Bill Diss, a member of Holy Rosary Parish who has led the pro-life movement at the Northeast Portland site. "It's so easy to get upset with the people running it. We just need to pray for them."

Diss is urging pro-lifers to contact their U.S. senators to ask for a funding ban on Planned Parenthood.

Just before Lent began, the Knights of Columbus in Northeast Portland hosted a dinner benefitting the Lenten pro-life cause, which is called 40 Days for Life.