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Abortion Debate Takes Center Stage In Augusta 

A pro-life organization has begun a 40-day protest outside of facilities that provide abortions. An Augusta clinic is using the protestors themselves to raise money for the very cause they oppose.It’s called “40 Days For Life” and pro-life organizers say it’s their largest and longest coordinated effort in history. it’s going on all over the country, including Augusta, outside the Family Planning Association of Maine. Scott Michaud is part of “40 Days For Life” and he says they have hundreds of volunteers from all over the state. “So we come out here to pray and let women know that there is a different option. There are other choices,” he says.Brigid Wentworth travels all the way from Verona Island to volunteer and picket outside the Augusta facility. “If we stand up for real basic fundamental things like life, that other things will just naturally follow,” she says.Sue McPhee, Vice President of External Relations & Development has a different idea of what they do. “I think they’re there to mostly shame women.” MacPhee says they provide a variety of services and abortions are just a small part of what they do. She says they performed about 430 last year. “Our practice mostly focuses on reproductive healthcare, annual exams, breast cancer screenings, cervical cancer screenings, and STD’s”McPhee says patients that visit the clinic for those services are being harassed by the protesters. Now they’ve found a way to use the protestors to actually raise money for their cause by starting the “Pledge a Picketer” campaign. Folks can pledge money, which is multiplied by the number of picketers in front of the clinic to determine the total donation. They’re hoping to raise $10,000, with all the proceeds going to provide healthcare services, including abortions, to the clinic’s low income patients. “It’s a way to say let’s be sure they know that we’re not intimidated and that we are going to stay,” MacPhee says.Folks like Scott Michaud and Brigid Wentworth say they’re also here to stay and so is the debate over abortion.