A Prayer Crusade that took place in Poland from 1980 to 1993 reduced the numbers of abortions from 1 million a year in 1970 to 777 in 1993. Antoni Zieba, an engineer who worked at University of Technology in Building Mechanics Institute in Cracow, spent over 30 years defending the life of unborn children. During a trip to Vienna in 1979, he visited the Catholic Church of Christ The King, where he saw a picture of babies aborted in late stages, who had been tossed in the medical bin. What a terrible shock it was! Then another blow to his conscience came when he saw a brochure, left by an anonymous person on his desk at work, indicating the then current abortion rate in Poland. 1 million babies killed in the womb every single year! Straight away he enlisted a friend and fellow engineer, Mr Adam Kisiel, and together they began their prayer crusade.
Communism and censorship reigned at the time in Poland. It was illegal to print more than 10 copies of any document without first receiving the permission of a special office. Doctors and nurses lost their jobs if they refused to participate in abortions. People who spoke out against abortion were persecuted. The first question pregnant women were asked by doctors was: Do you want to give birth or to terminate your pregnancy? The Communist regime propagated abortion, prohibited discussion about it in the public sphere, and enforced strict censorship on the media.
Mr Antoni Zieba visited Pope John Paul II 63 times and was deeply impressed to learn that the saintly pope prayed for the protection of life all the time. Antoni and Adam, inspired by the pope’s witness, decided to lead a prayer campaign. These were the 2 aims of the campaign: 1) to awaken the conscience of the Polish nation to the fact that the life of every person, from conception to natural death, is sacred; 2) to annul the abortion legislation that had been imposed during the communist terror in 1958, and to replace it with a pro-life bill that would protect the life of every conceived child, with no exceptions.
In the dark days of Communism, with just a few lay people connected to the Institute of Theology of the Family and the Metropolitan Curia in Cracow, the Prayer Crusade started on 12th of October 1980. In the first 3 months of the campaign, 1000 people prayed and committed to attending a Holy Mass every day and to receiving The Body of Christ for the intentions of the Prayer Crusade. Afterwards, the plan of the Prayer Crusade changed, and people were asked to pray to end abortion by saying a decade of the Rosary every day, as well as attending Mass and receiving Holy Communion every day during one week each month, for period of one year. 100,000 people committed to doing this, and after 12 years of prayer, God took pity on the Polish nation. The abortion rates dropped down from about 1 million in 1970 to 777 in 1993. On January 7th 1993, the Polish parliament annulled the barbaric, pro- abortion legislation and adopted a pro-life bill.