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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 22, 2010

O’Connor encourages youth to join Catholic movement to end abortion

By Saranac Hale Spencer

A Catholic reawakening was quickly followed by a call to activism for Dan O’Connor.

As a freshman at Renesselaer Polytechnic Institute, O’Connor said that he “saw sin destroying me.”  He described himself as being promiscuous with two girlfriends and “decided purity was necessary,” he said.

“That opened up the floodgates,” O’Connor said of the transition from religion to activism opposing abortion.

“I kept seeing this one sign on my way to daily Mass,” he said.  It called people to a prayer vigil in front of a Planned Parenthood clinic.

O’Connor described his first day of standing in front of the clinic as frightening.  “I had never before stood at a road for a cause,” he said, explaining that everyone in the morning rush hour saw him there holding a sign proclaiming his beliefs.

“You’re trying to make them not ignore you, but that’s exactly what you want to happen,” he said of the awkward difference between the purpose of picketing and his inclination to keep personal views to himself.

About twice a month, O’Connor stands opposite Joe Levinger, a volunteer escort for Planned Parenthood who was recently recognized for his service at the clinic.  The Enterprise ran a story on Levinger’s work in last week’s edition, to which O’Connor responded that the Biblical passage noted on his group’s signs is John 3:16, which reads “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

It is referenced because it’s a “generally inspirational passage,” O’Connor said and it serves as a reminder to women who might use the clinic “that they can turn to Jesus.”

Women coming to the clinic for abortions don’t feel like they have a choice, O’Connor said.  He knows this “from what I’ve read and heard,” he said, adding that he can “see despair on their faces.”

O’Connor holds a sign with a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the words “Choose life.”  He printed those words to let women know that they have a choice, he said.

“I want abortion to be illegal,” he said, a stance which he believes is good for women.  “It boils down to whether you think life begins at conception,” he said.

At the center of the issue is what O’Connor believes is a child, he says, but he also genuinely believes that abortion has negative implications for women.

He and the group of picketers outside of Troy’s Planed Parenthood office have noticed a decline in traffic to the clinic, a drop that they attribute to prayer, O’Connor said.  They usually pray the Rosary, which takes about 20 minutes and invokes the Mother Mary.

While organizing against abortion is important to O’Connor and necessarily entwined with religion, it is not all encompassing.  The main thrust for his religion, O’Connor said, is “trying to get to heaven.”

People aren’t made for this world, he said, explaining, “It’s why nothing in this world can make us happy.”

Referring to God and His creation, O’Connor said, “Nothing lives up to what we daydream it will be because He doesn’t intend for us to really be at home in this world.”

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