A Fight For Life – Schmitt

Peaceful Prayer Gives Community Members Hope in Ending Abortion 

Joy Pace, a supporter of 40 Days For Life, stands behind Planned Parenthood with her homemade poster on Tues., March 15th.

To view my video package, please click here.

To view my script, please click here.

40 Days for Life is a multi-faith, multi-church, international collaboration that takes place for 40 days each spring and each fall in countries all over the world. People come together to pray for an end to abortion outside Planned Parenthood on the corner of Third St. and Stoughton St. from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.

Nine years ago, 40 Days For Life made its way to Champaign. Since then, pro-life supporters in the area have organized 17 campaigns. Through silent prayer, meditation and pro-life signage, supporters hope to quietly demonstrate their opposition to abortion.

Dolores Sofranko is involved with many pro-life organizations in the area. She said she hopes those considering abortion understand they are making decisions that may hamper their spiritual, mental and physical growth for the rest of their lives.

“It’s a living, breathing, active way of letting people know that there are people who are praying for them,” she said.

For some, getting rid of abortion seems impossible, but they believe their non-violent method is the most powerful tool for change.

Sharon Foreman walks the perimeter of Planned Parenthood each week while praying the rosary. She said the community should take notice of 40 Days For Life because abortion devalues life.

“Our respect for life is eroding in lots of different ways, so I think it’s important that we respect life from beginning to end,” she said.

Many pray because they’ve been pro-life since birth, but for co-chair Reneé Mullen, marching outside Planned Parenthood has a deeper meaning.

Mullen’s family heritage is Jewish. Many of her relatives were persecuted and killed because of their race during World War II. She relates abortion to the Holocaust.

“I truly believe the past decades of abortion being legal in the U.S. is another tragic blot on the history of the world and on our nation’s history, where some people have decided that some are less than human,” Mullen said. “As a result, 60 million babies have been lost to abortion.”

40 Days for Life may not end abortion in the near future, but its supporters never underestimate the power of prayer.

“I believe all things are possible with God,” Sharon Foreman said.


I am very proud of this full package assignment, and overall, I am happy with how it turned out. I felt prepared to tackle this story after developing fundamental multimedia skills this semester, and putting it all together was both challenging and enjoyable. I felt that I put a lot of effort into this assignment, conducting in-depth interviews with five different subjects over the course of a week. Unfortunately, due to the time constraints of this package, I was not able to include my interviews with another 40 Days For Life supporter and a Catholic Priest on campus.

Looking back, I wish I had a greater variety of b-roll. The video of the supporters marching with their signs looks repetitive, however, I tried to change up the location and the composition of each shot as best as I could. While 40 Days For Life aims to have people outside Planned Parenthood for 12 hours each day, unfortunately, there were many gaps of time without supporters. Additionally, many times, there was only a group of 1-2 people there at a time. I wish there was a larger group to enhance my story, but it did not work out that way, and that challenged me as a reporter. I needed to be more creative in my thinking, and I needed to make the most of what I was given. I believe that is a valuable lesson as a journalist — I must always be ready for the unexpected.

This story touched me in many ways on a personal level. This issue impacts so many people on both sides of the argument, and it is prevalent in our political realm today. Over the course of 1.5 weeks, I witnessed the intense passion and relentless courage these supporters had in their beliefs. I watched them laugh. I watched them cry. I watched them raise their voice in anger, but also quiver in silence when they were sad. I’m glad I chose to cover a challenging subject, and I’m especially grateful for the lessons I learned and the great people I met. The organizers of the event were so willing to work with my schedule to make sure I had everything I needed, even if it meant coming back two days in a row or standing outside in below-freezing temperatures for an interview. There are a lot of good people in this world, and I’m glad I was able to shine a light on just a few of them.

As I finished my last interview with Joy Pace, she came over and gave me a hug. She told me she thought I was special. This meant a lot to me. This story meant a lot to me. And, I hope that shows in my work and in the video I made.

I’m constantly amazed by the art of journalism, and I am reminded each week why I do what I do. It all feels so worth it after stories like this one.

Thanks for your attention! Enjoy.


1 thought on “A Fight For Life – Schmitt

  1. Kerndl, Angela Megan

    Dear Olivia, 

    First of all, great topic idea! I was in awe the whole time I was watching your video.  Although all of your previous work was amazing, this was definitely your best.  It honestly was flawless.  I loved the stand-up and your lower third for it was great with your Twitter handle.  Like Professor Collins mentioned in class, the only thing I would do differently is add OTSO as well.  Your transitions were smooth.  I loved the variety of shots you had.  Nothing seemed to be left out at all, i.e. all questions were answered by the end.   I definitely would not have guessed this was the work of a student.  

    Your soundbites were amazing.  I loved how you actually captured the woman crying- great emotions!  The subjects were all very passionate and really added to the tone of the story.  Your script/ narration was wonderfully written as well.  

    In terms of your blog post, I loved the thumbnail you chose.  It really draws the reader in.  The heading and subheading were also great.  I loved the quotes you added, however, I wish in your article you could have added a quote from the priest.   I also love how you mentioned how much this story meant to you.

    Overall, this was such amazing work! I am so impressed and you should be very proud of yourself!

    I’m looking so forward to seeing what amazing things you’ll do for your how-to assignment.  

    Angela Kerndl

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