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Life Chain brings message to streets

October 07, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

Hundreds of people lined streets in Tri-State area communities Sunday afternoon, silently participating in a nationwide Life Chain.

Life Chain events were held in Hagerstown, Chambersburg, Pa., and Martinsburg, W.Va.

In Chambersburg, the Life Chain was held for the 12th straight year, said Sherry Cline, an organizer.

About 300 people stood along Lincoln Way East and Second Street from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. holding signs while they silently prayed to uphold the sanctity of pre-born life, all human life and the nation's future, Cline said.

The Life Chain stretched from Corpus Christi on Second Street south, and along Lincoln Way East from Memorial Square to form a cross.

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"It's supposed to be a quiet, prayerful time," Cline said. On the back of the signs the participants held were suggestions for prayers.

Anti-abortion sign messages included: "Abortion Kills Children," "Jesus Forgives and Heals," "Adoption: The Loving Option" and "Lord, Forgive us and our Nation."

There was an occasional honk or thumbs-up from passing motorists, Cline said Sunday as the event wound down.

Most participants made Life Chain a family outing.

Derrick and Toni Birkhimer, of Marion, Pa., brought their children, Olivia, 11, Caleb, 9, and Audrey, 7, and found a spot along the first block of North Second Street.

"I've come since it started. We as a family value life," Derrick Birkhimer said. "This is a nice, peaceful way to express to people that abortion is harmful to women and children."

Chris Sheffield, Republican candidate for the 89th District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, also brought his family to the event to make sure his opinion on abortion is clear.

"This is one issue I believe you can't be undecided on," he said. "It's a question of faith to me. I believe God created all life, and it shouldn't be interfered with."

In Hagerstown, people turned out along Dual Highway Sunday afternoon for the 11th annual Hagerstown Area Life Chain from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

The rally was not meant to condemn women who have abortions, said Rob Smith of Hagerstown, co-coordinator of the rally. He said it was about making people aware that there are children who have a right to be born.

"If there are young women out there facing tough decisions, we want to let them know we are here to support them," he said in a printed handout.

Smith said participants donated diapers and baby-care items to crisis pregnancy centers in the area.

The rally was part of a nationwide event in which about 1 million people in more than 800 cities were expected to form chains on 2,000 miles of roadway. Communities across the country held Life Chain events at the same time.

In downtown Martinsburg, about 200 anti-abortion supporters participated, the largest group organizers can remember in recent years.

The crowd, standing on both sides of King and Queen streets, started from about Burke Street and wrapped around the Berkeley County Courthouse to about College Street.

They stood quietly, holding up posters as motorists passed.

The group was praying for God to intervene through elected officials, hoping they will strike down abortion laws, said Falling Waters, W.Va., resident Stephanie Slick, who helped organize the event.

Connie Rogers said she is concerned about saving all forms of life. The Martinsburg woman said she was not only concerned about unborn children being threatened by abortion, but was worried about assisted suicide spreading and threatening the country's elderly population.

"All life is valuable and all life is sacred and it needs to be protected," said Rogers.

The thousands of people who were killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks stunned the nation, but hardly anything is mentioned about the 4,400 unborn children who are victims of abortion every day in America, said another woman, who did not want to be identified.

- Staff writers Marlo Barnhart and Dave McMillion contributed to this story.

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