Undated (AP) _ A nationwide protest against abortion drew thousands of participants who joined hands, sang and waved signs, and in some cases disrupted traffic and argued with counter-picketers backing abortion rights.

The demonstrations Sunday, in which participants held hands to form long lines, were organized by the group Life Chain of Yuba City, Calif. Its founder, Royce Dunn, said more than 850,000 people participated nationwide.

''It's a visible way to show that you respect life. It's taking action,'' Noreen Chamberland, 43, of Stayton, Ore., said as she stood in line in Salem, Ore., next to her mother, Ann Nikodem.

In Oregon, about 3,200 people from 70 churches turned out in Salem, while smaller groups demonstrated in Woodburn, Lebanon and Dallas, Ore.

Demonstrators in West Virginia formed a ''life chain'' along a 20-mile stretch of U.S. Route 60, said the Rev. David DeCook of the Open Bible Church in St. Albans, near Charleston.

''Standing along a road, not blocking traffic or breaking laws, appealed to a lot of church people,'' DeCook said.

In Tulsa, Okla., thousands of anti-abortion protesters waved signs and disrupted traffic, but were countered by 25 University of Tulsa students, who also carried signs and hired an airplane to fly overhead with a ''Support Legal Abortion'' banner.

Life Chain participants carried such signs as ''Jesus Heals and Forgives,'' ''Abortion Kills Children'' and ''Adoption the Loving Option.'' Others along the 6 1/2 -mile route displayed graphic representations of aborted fetuses.

Many passers-by honked horns, waved and gave thumbs-up in support. But others yelled obscenities.

''We could not let the pro-choice majority not be seen out here,'' said Eric Stafford, director of the University of Tulsa Students for Choice.

In Boston, Cardinal Bernard Law, the city's Roman Catholic archbishop, joined anti-abortion protesters in a march through the city in an apparently separate fund-raising demonstration sponsored by Massachusetts Citizens for Life.

Coordinator Leslie Bond Diggins said she did not immediately know how much this year's march raised. Last year's raised $80,000 for anti-abortion groups that help unwed mothers, Diggins said.

About 100 anti-abortion demonstrators gathered outside the American Women's Medical Center in Chicago waving signs protesting the clinic's performance of abortions.

In Rockford, Ill., a chorus of shouting, sign-waving people lined the streets at an intersection for nearly a mile each way to form a human cross. About 30 counterdemonstrators toted blue ''Keep Abortion Legal'' signs.

''Standing out in public waving signs proves nothing,'' said Judy Maggio Fisher, a spokesperson for Rockford's Coalition for Reproductive Choice.