TYLER, TX (KLTV) - With the debate over abortion rights front and center right now, an East Texan has become a central figure of the national conversation.
Shawn Carney grew up in Tyler and now leads ’40 Days For Life,' a Pro-Life movement that organizes campaigns around the world.
The 36-year-old got involved in the Pro-Life movement as a teenager at Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Catholic High School in Tyler.
On Tuesday, he shared his spiritual journey with students at his alma mater, many of whom just returned from the national March For Life in Washington, DC.
"Our office is the closed Planned Parenthood abortion facility where 40 Days For Life first began," he told a group of more than a hundred students in the school's gymnasium.
In a 2008 interview, Carney told KLTV’s Clint Yeatts he had discerned entering the priesthood before ultimately decided to attend Texas A&M University with plans of becoming a lawyer.
He says his viewers were forever changed after a visit to a prayer vigil outside a Planned Parenthood facility.
"I remember thinking abortion was something politicians talked about or something in a courthouse somewhere. And that day it went from something on a ballot to something in the heart. I saw the pain of abortion, not just the arguments for or against abortion."
Since 2004, Carney has served as director of the Coalition for Life and co-founded ’40 Days for Life, which has grown from Bryan-College Station to a presence in 816 cities in 56 countries.
"It gives people a simple invitation to help save a life where they live and to do so without judging -- but to do so out of authentic love."
The organization’s approach is based on the transformative 40-day periods referenced in scripture. Efforts focus on prayer, fasting, and peaceful activism, according to their website.
"Our culture is starving for God. They're starving for joy and they're starving for mercy. And we all need it. But it can't be witnessed to without prayer, because prayer gives clarity. And it gives clarity to a very confused world."
Carney is even portrayed in the new movie, 'Unplanned,' about Abby Johnson, the Texas Planned Parenthood director who became a pro-life activist.
"There is no us and them with abortion. And that's why we're still talking about it for 46 years, because it's a movement of converts," Carney said.
"It's a movement full of either women who have had an abortion or men who have encouraged for or paid for an abortion. (Also) doctors who have done an abortion or just people who genuinely supported a woman's rights to choose and they don't anymore. But the conversion gate only swings in one direction."
The film is scheduled for nation-wide release on March 29.
Carney’s perspectives have made him one of the most sought-after pro-life speakers in the country with appearances on network TV and radio programs such as The O’Reilly Factor, EWTN, TBN, The Laura Ingraham Show, and Focus on the Family.
“But there haven’t been 300 abortions in our country. There have been 61 million. That’s 3,000 every single day. That’s a lot of siblings and daughters and grandchildren. and that is up to us, the baptized, to offer hope.”
He has also produced documentaries and is the author of two books, “40 Days for Life: Discover What God Has Done ... Imagine What He Can Do” and “The Beginning of The End of Abortion.”
It's through prayer alone that Carney says the fight for the sanctity of life can be won. He says he thinks Roe v. Wade could be overturned in as little as three to ten years.
"I believe abortion will end in America. I believe that we will lead the world in ending it. But that's going to start in places like East Texas, in the home, restoring the family."
'40 Days for Life' is organizing a campaign in Tyler from March 6 through April 14.
For more information, you can visit their website at www.40DaysForLife.com/Tyler.
Do you have an inspiring journey of faith or know of a ministry that’s making a difference in your community? To share your experience with the Power of Prayer, send us an email by clicking here.