EFFINGHAM — More than 100 pro-life advocates participated in organized lines that created the shape of a cross for the annual National Life Chain on Sunday.
Participants lined up along Fayette and Keller, two of the most visible areas in Effingham.
The Rev. Michal Rosa led the prayer service inside the Sacred Heart Parish Center before everyone took a place along the route for the peaceful demonstration.
Effingham Life Chain organizer Karla Slifer of Effingham spoke to the crowd and said events like this are important because “the crisis of abortion is enormous” and a “tragedy of epidemic proportions.”
She encouraged pro-lifers to spend time at facilities that perform abortions and be in prayer for the unborn.
“We are here exactly because we are pro-life and we believe in sanctity of life at all stages,” said Rick Siemer of Teutopolis, while standing outside Sacred Heart Catholic Church holding a message for passersby. “We are dealing with a culture that apparently has some doubts about that and we are trying to have a little influence and change a couple of minds.”
Eric Thompson of Sigel reflected on a prayer by Pope John Paul back in 2000 that included in part helping people have the wisdom to know the difference between right and wrong.
“That wisdom is not there anymore,” said Thompson. “What was unacceptable is now acceptable.”
His 15-year-old grandson, Samuel Thompson, said he is appalled about the funding going to Planned Parenthood for abortions.
Slifer, a grandmother to a 4-month-old baby girl, said more than 100 people attended the prayer service and Life Chain formation, which she believes is one of the biggest turnouts since she took over the event.
She contributes the larger attendance to certain recent developments.
“I think the movie, ‘Unplanned,’ has opened everyone’s eyes to the horror of abortion,” said Slifer. “And I also think the opening of the new abortion clinic in Fairview Heights has made people more aware of the evils of abortions.”
According to the Belleville News-Democrat, Planned Parenthood is taking a major step to increase access to abortions in the metro-east and the region with a new 18,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art clinic in Fairview Heights. The location was chosen as a regional hub, possibly serving multiple states, with highway access, hotels and restaurants, the BND reported.
Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region will expand abortion services in the new facility, providing both surgical and medication abortions. The facility on Salem Place near to the intersection of Interstate 64 and Illinois 159 is expected to begin seeing patients in late October.
Participants in the Life Chain, a pro-life organization started in California in 1987, encourages peaceful and prayerful witnessing against abortions. It is always held on the first Sunday in October across the United States. The event has been held in Effingham County for several years, first organized by the late-Loretta Koester.
This year was also the first Life Chain in Jasper County organized by Max and Donna Bunton. Participants were staged on public sidewalks north and east of the square in Newton.
Max Bunton said in a release that this is a good way to make a visual statement during the peaceful witness against abortions.
“This visual statement of solidarity by the Christian community attests to the fact that abortion kills children and that the sanctity of life must be protected from the moment of conception until natural death.”
Slifer added that being visible with posters encouraging a different decision could be what someone needs to see today. There are other options, including adoption, if a parent isn’t ready for a baby.
“Who knows? Someone maybe just learned today that they are pregnant and they might be considering abortion,” said Slifer. “Your witness here today could be the one thing that could help them choose life.”