40 Days for Life started in the Spring of 2008 thanks to Barbara Durkee and Debbie McGee. The first vigils for the next two years were held in front of Dr. Harrison’s Women’s Clinic near College and North Street in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Read more here. Ray and Natalie Hines of Siloam Springs became part of the first leadership team, and are the only participants who have been on the leadership team since the beginning.
This picture shows prayer warriors in front of Dr. Harrison’s Fayetteville Women’s Clinic, the only place in Northwest Arkansas where surgical abortions were performed. It closed in July, 2010, about two years after the 40 Days for Life vigil began. Read more here. Residents of Fayetteville definitely had mixed feelings. Not everyone felt the same about the clinic. Some people had a gathering outside the clinic to show support on the last day of the closing. I personally know one of the people who attended and promoted the event. Read more here. Juliet Cassell and Tiffany Dickenson were coordinators at this time.
After Dr. Harrison’s clinic closed, 40 Days for Life moved the vigil to pray in front of Planned Parenthood Health Clinic, which was at that time located on Township near Greg St. in Fayetteville. Shawn Carney, National Campaign Director, and Abby Johnson, who had very recently left her position as director of a Planned Parenthood, spoke at the Kickoff Rally. Fun Fellowship and Service, a youth group founded by Chris Mikkelson and Mahriyanna Kersbergen, decided to make the Kickoff Rally their first event. Read more here. No surgical abortions were performed at this location, but medical abortions were offered using the RU 486 pill. Molly
In 2011, Planned Parenthood moved to a site near Crossover and Joyce where it would have been extremely difficult for people to stand on public property. Fortunately, by the time the vigil was going to be held, because of the widening of Crossover (Highway 265) by the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, 40 Days for Life participants had much more room to hold the peaceful vigil as well as the Kickoff Rallies. Due to generous funding by the city of Fayetteville, sidewalks were installed later, thus making the prayer vigil much more visible to the many cars driving by.
At the first Kickoff Rally, sprinklers were turned on the participants, forcing them to cover electronic equipment with plastic and retreat from the spray. Vigils have been held at this site eight times, with the eighth one being the current spring campaign.
Police were always consulted before the twice-yearly campaigns were held in order to make sure that all laws were being followed. Then in the eighth Spring 2015 campaign, which is in progress, they were told by the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) that they could not hold their signs.
Here is more information about that situation.