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Pro-life protest peaceful on Sashabaw



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David Bereit, national director of 40 Days for Life, addresses the marchers. (click for larger version)
October 06, 2010 - More than 150 stood on Sashabaw Road during a Lifechain, Sunday, organized by 40 Days for Life.

The demonstration, which filled both sides of Sashabaw Road from Waldon to Bow Pointe Drive, was one day of 40, Sept. 22-Oct. 31, in front of Family Care Clinic Gynecology and Family Planning, which opened this past summer.

"We're a part of a national campaign of peaceful vigil, prayer, and fasting, to turn away from the culture of death and bring an end to abortion," said Debbie Riccardo of Clarkston. "We pray God opens their hearts."

Most of the time, a handful of volunteers maintain the vigil, holding signs such as "honk for life" and "pray to end abortion." A few passers-by yell or otherwise object, but most honk in support, Riccardo said.

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"The response has been overwhelmingly positive the tide is turning," she said.

"This is a very pro-life community," said volunteer Kathleen Schupbach of Clarkston.

The organization organized demonstrations at more than 230 clinics nationwide, including in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Southfield, Standish, Flint, Saginaw, Lansing, Sterling Heights, and Traverse City.

In Independence Township, volunteers are on location everyday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

"We're here to pray peacefully, not be confrontational," Schupbach said.

Volunteers come from all over the area, many from Clarkston area churches including Saint Daniel Catholic, Clarkston Community, Clarkston Free Methodist, Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic, and Oakland Woods Baptist.

"I support the pro-life cause, that's why I'm here," said Scott Gordan of Oxford. "They're doing great work to end the killing."

"This is my very first time," said Linda Jones of Gaylord. "I have family in the area and I heard this was going on and decided to take part."

Dave Skurski of Hartland, a member of Church of Holy Spirit in Highland, drives to Clarkston to march twice a week.

"I'm here to make a difference," Skurski said. "I'm here to pray for life, liberty, pursuit of happiness the dream of our forefathers, not 'Dreams of my Father.'"

Several teens from Everest Collegiate High School, Independence Township, also take part.

"I like it, it's great to be here," said Jeremy Schupbach, 14, a member of Everest's School for Life Club. "It's really cool. Lots of cars are honking. A public school bus honked. I think we're doing good."

"I'm here to make a difference," said classmate Anne Ervin, 14. "I'm doing as much as I can to help save babies' lives. I can pray to God to help people find their way back to the truth. It's very moving to see the people here and people honking. It shows how many people believe in life."

Deb Ives, director and co-founder of Heartfelt Family Services of Michigan, was there to help women find help.

"People need to know the truth about abortion, and understand aftermath on heart and life," Ives said. "I believe if people know what happens, they would choose alternatives."

For information on the counseling service, call 586-484-9897 or check www.hfsmi.org.

"Abortion is still secret, unspoken of," Ives said. "Women and men unsure how to handle it, unsure where to go for help. That's why I'm here."

"There are too many stories of regret," Riccardo said. "We're here so women can begin to heal."

Their posters and banners do not include abortion photos or other images intended to shock.

"It is the policy of 40 Days to have only positive message signs," Riccardo said. "While we grieve for the horror that is the reality of abortion, we do not want to subject small children to those very disturbing images."

Mandates also include respecting the law by staying on the sidewalk and avoiding confrontations with staff or clientele. If approached, they provide information and assistance with local adoption agencies.

"There is no such thing as an unwanted child, it's just a matter of putting people in touch with each other," Riccardo said.

Staff at the clinic declined requests for interview, but called police, Sept. 27, to report a marcher "jumping up and down on a sprinkler." A nurse told police she saw the incident from the clinic steps. A deputy checked the vantage point and determined a berm blocked view of the sidewalk from the steps. No charges were filed.

Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.
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