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Both sides come out for rallies on abortion

October 05, 1998

Life ChainBy KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

by: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer




Hoping to drum up support, area proponents of both sides of the abortion issue made their presence known Sunday by holding rallies along Dual Highway.

About 300 people joined to form the seventh annual Hagerstown Life Chain starting at the Ames Shopping Center parking lot and extending along the highway to the Foxshire Plaza.

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Holding placards that pronounced "Abortion Kills Children," "Lord, Forgive Us and Our Nation," and "Abortion Hurts Women," participants quietly prayed and urged cars to honk in support.

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The rally was part of a nationwide event in which about 1 million people in more than 800 cities formed chains on about 2,000 miles of roadway.

In a counterprotest, about 25 friends and members of the National Organization for Women gathered along the highway to proclaim their views on abortion rights and the necessity to legalize the drug RU486, or mifepristone.

In the form of a pill, mifepristone, when used with prostaglandin, has been used to terminate early pregnancy. It is legally administered in France, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Life Chain organizer Tammy Smith said she hoped to see about 1,000 attending the hour-long event.

"We want to get the message across that abortion is murder and that there are loving options for these people - places they can go and get counseling, if they don't know what to do," she said.

Life ChainA member of the Grace Brethren Church, Smith said people from numerous area churches were represented.

Curtis Hendershot of Hagerstown attended the Life Chain rally with his wife Renee.

"We want to let people know where we stand. We are against abortion because it's wrong. We want to open people's eyes and make people aware of it," said Curtis Hendershot.

He said he considers abortion murder but also denounces the slayings and violence against abortion providers by extremists.

"People have come out against abortion but that doesn't make them Christians. To just go and kill someone is wrong. Murder is murder," Curtis Hendershot said.

Protester Shirlee Imes of Hagerstown also voiced her objections to abortion.

"It's important that we all take a stand. We can't change the world but we can all change a piece of it," she said.

Speaking in opposition, Deborah DeVore, president of the local chapter of the National Organization for Women, said the group's aim is to maintain established abortion rights.

"We are worried that on the national level Congress is chipping away at our reproductive rights," she said.

DeVore explained that opposition to the drug RU486 and the partial birth abortion are a veiled attempt to ban all abortions.

DeVore said her aim with Sunday's counterprotest was a peaceful means of sharing her group's beliefs.

"It's not confrontational. We won't disturb their prayers. We just want to participate and show our signs to represent the pro-choice point of view," she said.

DeVore said she hoped the event would draw attention to the need for pro-choice supporters to get out and vote in the November election to defeat conservatives Ellen R. Sauerbrey, Republican candidate for governor, and Alexander X. Mooney, Republican candidate for state Senate.

She said the public can also gain a voice by writing letters to the editor of area newspapers and educating people.

There are about 45 to 50 members of NOW in Washington County, one-third of whom are men, she said.

Martha Cornwell of Hagerstown is not a member of NOW but attended the rally because she felt it was important.

"Abortion should be a matter of choice. Life begins not at conception but at birth," she said.

Cornwell said she believes it would be more useful to "... save the ones that are here instead of forcing people to have children they don't want," she said.

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