Signs, silence, prayer used to communicate beliefs at Life Chain
Hundreds of people lined the streets and held signs in silent protest against abortion on a cool, misty Sunday afternoon in the heart of Norfolk.
There were 184 people registered, including people of various faiths, who held signs that had slogans including “Abortion Kills Children,” “Adoption, a Loving Alternative” and “Jesus Forgives and Heals.”
The people lined both sides of the streets for an hour at the intersection of 13th Street and Norfolk Avenue, extending one to two blocks in all directions.
Loren Kment of Norfolk said he supports adoptions instead of abortion. Kment said he is the “proud grandfather” of a grandson who is adopted.
“Adoption is the best option,” he said.
Jo Bichlmeier of Norfolk said she has come out to the Life Chain many years, no matter what the weather. This year’s weather was colder than usual, she said.
Bichlmeier said she hopes the recent appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court could help to end abortion, but she isn’t optimistic. And even it abortion would end, it is important for the Life Chains to continue to show people they still oppose abortion.
“Hopefully, they continue no matter what the U.S. Supreme Court says. We have to fight. Abortion is wrong,” she said.
Roger Sellen of Norfolk said he attends The Salvation Army Church and a Baptist church, but he was attending the Life Chain on his own.
Sellen said he was attending to speak on behalf of the babies who have no choice. Even if abortion continues, the mothers should be required to see an ultrasound of the baby, similar to what is required for other procedures, he said.
“A baby in the womb is more important than a tooth in the mouth,” he said. “Let them (mothers) know this is a life.”
The Rev. Dan Andrews, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Norfolk, said this is the ninth year that he has attended the Life Chain in Norfolk, and people generally are dedicated to attending no matter what the weather.
“This is probably the most inclement weather we’ve had since I have been coming to Norfolk,” he said.
Andrews, who was among those could be seen silently praying a rosary in their hands, said the Life Chain is one part of the pro-life movement to give “simple witness.”
“This has always been meant to be just a quiet protest or to be a quiet witness,” Andrews said. “I think our country is better when the shouting is reduced and people talk to each other and actually get to know each other and talk about the issues — on both sides.”
Also attending the protest was Norfolk Mayor Josh Moenning.
“Traditionally if I’m in town, I’m attending,” Moenning said. “I think it’s a great community effort to simply say that we support life. We are going to be encouraging and supportive to that value where ever it is needed. I think the message we try to send to people is that you have friends and neighbors here who will help in difficult circumstances because we want ultimately to support what is life giving and life nurturing.”
Moenning said he also appreciates the “passive expression” displayed by protesters of love, life and support for anyone who needs it.
Ivan Van Dyke of Norfolk was another person who has attended most of the Life Chains since they began. He was holding a sign that stated, “Abortion Hurts Women.”
“We need to have families and we need to make sure that the babies the Lord gives us are taken care of,” Van Dyke said. “We have to respect life in all of its forms.”
Van Dyke said he isn’t sure if the recent appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court will help reverse the Roe v. Wade decision of 1972 that legalized abortion.
“That’s an issue that I think will have to go through the courts and the legislatures,” he said. “I hope I can live long enough to see it get changed, but I’m not real confident I will.”
Pastor Brian Bucklew of Zion Lutheran Church in Plainview also attended his first Life Chain in Norfolk with two of his three children, Andrew, and Lydia. Both are in grade school.
Bucklew said he has hopes that abortion can be ended with the appointment of Kavanaugh.
“Our hope ultimately is in the Lord,” he said. “I think he is answering our prayers, but we are hopeful — absolutely.”
Amidst the pro-life supporters, there were two women who held signs that were pro-choice.
Brooklyn Fauss of Norfolk and Anastacia Van Kirk of Norfolk said it was the first time they had attended the rally.
“It’s peaceful and that’s what we’re here for,” Van Kirk said. “Nebraska is a state of multiple beliefs and that’s what we’re here to represent.”
Both women said they appreciated that even though they thought they were the only two representing pro choice views, everyone remained peaceful.
“I think it helps because we both grew up with conservative parents,” Fauss said. “Then when we became teenagers and young adults, we learned to have those hard conversations in safe settings. We learned how to communicate our thoughts effectively.”