Nearly 300 people lined up at the corner of State and Eisenhower streets yesterday afternoon holding signs with messages such as “Abortion Kills Children,” “Assisted Suicide Kills” and “Adoption is the Loving Option,” anti-abortion supporters participated in a national event called the Life Chain.
Marilyn Geyer, vice president of the Pro-Life Action Network, said that although abortion has been legalized for many years, the group hopes to return awareness to the issue.
Geyer said the group has encountered hostility from its opponents, especially in previous years.
“We used to march downtown and a couple of years ago the pro-choice supporters came and intimidated people,” Geyer said.
She added that some people who oppose their views yelled from their cars and made profane gestures. “Last year someone threw bottles at us,” she said.
Many anti-abortion supporters usually honked and waved, and some even parked their vehicles and join in the demonstration.
The annual event draws 300 to 400 people each year, including college and university groups, various church members and the general public.
While locally organized, Life Chain is a nationally coordinated event that takes place on the first Sunday of every October. People from all over North America are invited to participate by standing on a local sidewalk chosen by the national organization and hold approved pro-life signs.
Ann Arbor Huron Valley Middle School student Paige Tassie said she and her friends have written letters to Gov. Jennifer Granholm, hoping to change her mind about abortion and a partial-birth abortion bill recently approved by the Michigan legislature.
Other participants are trying to make a difference on a local level.
University Students for Life President Louise Conlon said the group has participated in the Life Chain for five years.
“People are becoming more and more open to learning about the facts and reevaluating the issue of abortion,” said Conlon, an LSA senior.
“Our goal is to take a stance and bring awareness to the community,” she added.
Students from Ave Maria College in Ypsilanti also came to represent the anti-abortion stance at their school.
“Ave Maria is an all pro-life college, and we do a lot of pro-life outreach at (Eastern Michigan University) and U of M,” Ave Maria freshman Kate Bryan said.
But there are also a number of students who opposed the Life Chain event.
“As a pro-choice organization, we recognize that life is more complicated than pro-lifers would have it,” said University Students for Choice board member and LSA junior Erin Stringfellow.
“These demonstrations simplify and distort the realities that a woman faces when dealing with an unplanned pregnancy,” she said.
But dedicated Life Chain participants said they serve a greater purpose.
“Our real intention is to be a support for women in pregnancy crisis,” Geyer said.
“We are trying to bring God’s love into the situation – not to be harsh and judgmental toward anyone.”