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Abortion protest silent

October 05, 1997

By DON AINES

Staff Writer, Martisburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Both sides in the national debate over abortion have at times been strident and even violent in espousing their beliefs. Sunday afternoon a group of people marked their opposition to abortion in silence.

The several dozen participants in the one-hour Life Chain demonstration silently held signs saying "Abortion Kills Children" and "Adoption, the Loving Option" at the intersection of King and Queen streets.

Paul Hudock, a deacon at St. Leo's Church in Inwood, will be ordained a Catholic priest next year. He said he and others were there "to try and raise the issue in a peaceful and prayerful way."

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"It shouldn't be about politics. It should be a moral issue," said Stephanie King, the secretary-treasurer of the Berkeley County Right to Life Committee.

She said the fight against abortion should be waged in homes, churches and in people's hearts.

At the same time, she noted that the right-to-life committee is a political action committee and the abortion issue "is going to be my determining vote. I'm not going with someone who is pro-choice."

The Bunker Hill woman said 76 people registered to take part in the demonstration. The Life Chain demonstrations, sponsored by the National Right to Life Committee, began a decade ago in Marysville, Calif., King said.

The crowd was mostly middle-age and middle-class with a number of younger people and senior citizens mixed in. Standing out in the crowd was Dan Mace of Martinsburg.

Bearded with his hair pulled back in a ponytail and festooned with tattoos, Mace said he has participated in the Life Chain before and has always been opposed to abortion.

"If you saw somebody dying, wouldn't you help them?" Mace said when asked why he was there.

"It is especially heinous when you're hurting something that is unable to defend itself," Mace added.

When a woman passenger in a car went by and yelled something about the Constitution followed by a profanity, Mace said that was the first negative remark he'd heard from passing motorists.

"You missed a hand gesture," said Bonnie DelBalzo of Winchester, Va. The senior youth director at St. Leo's said girls from the church who had been at a previous rally had a simple way of gauging support.

"They would count the fingers against the thumbs" of passing motorists, she said. Several drivers did honk their horns and wave at the demonstrators.

Carol Morgan of Martinsburg has been participating in the Life Chain in Virginia and now West Virginia for years. She said the crowd was much smaller this year.

King said that may be due in part to the big Promise Keepers rally Saturday in Washington, D.C.

"A lot of guys from our church weren't back yet," she said.

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