EL CENTRO â€” Although the vacant lot next to the Planned Parenthood Clinic on Fourth Avenue in El Centro Saturday was filled with colorful umbrellas, it was a somber occasion. The umbrellas shielded 50-plus members of the Catholic faith as they held Mass, praying for the clinic workers, the women who sought help at the clinic, and the babies whose lives would end if the pregnant mothers chose abortion.
Teresa Marsano, state leader of Californians for Life, took to heart Monterey Bishop Richard Garciaâ€™s vision of holding mass at all the stateâ€™s Planned Parenthood Clinics. According to Marsano, abortions became legalized first in California, even before the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling legalizing all abortions in 52 states.
â€œCalifornia Governor Ronald Reagan signed what he then believed would limit abortions, but he opened Pandoraâ€™s Box,â€ Marsono said.
Local Catholic coordinator, Margie Madueno, said they received notice Sunday that the Missionaries of Lady of Guadalupe and Californians for Life had penciled in Saturday to come to El Centro.
â€œWe had to get the word out, nobody knew,â€ said Madueno. â€œWe called, emailed and messaged everyone we knew. This is a great turnout for being unplanned. We held an all-night vigil, saying a rosary every hour along with celebrating through praise and worship. We prayed for Planned Parenthoodâ€™s employees, asking for them to be blessed with a different job.â€
After communion, the priest, Ed Horning, blessed water and salt, then led a procession around the clinicâ€™s perimeter, being careful to stay on either public property or personal property they had gained permission to occupy. Water and salt was sprinkled as the group sang and prayed, stopping at the sidewalk in front of the clinic as Father Horning continued to lead in prayer.
â€œThe ladies come out (of the clinic) with a white bag that we assume is the second of two prescriptions for killing their babies,â€ Madueno said. â€œThe first of RU486 weakens the lining of the uterus so the baby canâ€™t hang on. The second set of pills, what they are carrying in the white bags, is taken later and it kills the baby. The woman then miscarries at home. We are trying to get the word out, that if the mom changes her mind after the first pill, we can give her something that will strengthen the uterus with no bad effects of the baby. We can save the babyâ€™s life if she has already taken the second pill, but usually the baby is deformed.â€
Madueno said that besides doing chemical abortions, the facility also performs physical abortions.
â€œThe physical pain will go away, but the emotional pain will carry on,” said Madueno. “We have not seen what abortion will do in the Imperial Valley yet. It breaks the community. How can we be fruitful if we kill our own? We need to love them and let them know we are here in their time of crisis.â€
Marsono will travel next to Chula Vista. She and her other companion, Dora Lee Raras, take turns keeping the movement alive, sometimes working alone, or together as they did at the El Centro Mass.
â€œOur mission is to use peaceful collusion, never anger, but through prayer change communities into communities of love. We recognize the humanity of the child in the womb and we seek to help women to understand ending the life of their child through abortion is unthinkable,â€ Marsono said.