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Local candlelight vigil marks 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Ben Hillyer | The Natchez Democrat — Hannah Beth Nugent, at left, raises her candle high with her grandparents Glen and Penny Harrigill Tuesday night during a vigil service on the bluff as a memorial service for the millions of babies that have died from abortions in the last 40 years since the Roe v. Wade Suprem Court decision. At right, Children place white carnations beside each of the 140 crosses in front of the gazebo at the end of Tuesday’s candelight vigil.

NATCHEZ — On the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion, a group of approximately 60 people gathered on the bluff for what Virginia O’Beirne hoped was the last time.

“This is the seventh year we have done this candlelight vigil, but my wish would be it would be the last year we would gather for this cause,” O’Beirne said to the crowd gathered for the memorial service for the 55 million babies that have died from abortions in the past 40 years. “I think someday that will happen, and we can gather to celebrate.

“If we do, it will be because of you coming out each year.”

Placed behind the crowd of men, women and children on the bluff were 140 white crosses that O’Beirne, who is co-chairman of Pro-Life Natchez-Adams County, said represented the lives lost from abortion every 24 seconds in the United States.

Those crosses and lives lost would be fewer if and when people stopped using words like “fetus” when referring to abortions, said the Rev. Dennis Flach of New Covenant Presbyterian Church.

“If we continue referring to those things in fetal terms, we make it sound like a procedure,” Flach said. “Let’s call babies, babies and get out of the clinical language in order to stand for life.”

O’Beirne added that she was going to change parts of her vocabulary and ways of speaking to pregnant mothers to help the pro-life cause.

“When I see someone who is pregnant I always say, ‘you’re expecting,’ but the truth is they’re already going to have that baby,” O’Beirne said. “They’re already going to be mothers.”

Flach also spoke to the crowd about the importance of seeing the double meaning behind the sixth commandment that says, “thou shalt not kill.”

“The flip side of that is that thou shalt promote life,” Flach said. “We need to encourage and promote life instead of taking it away.

“We should be avoiding the unjust taking of life.”

By ensuring their message is not one of condemnation or anger, co-chairman Ruth Powers said the organization will be able to reach out to people who truly need help.

“What we need is a clearing house for women who can come and get resources regarding their pregnancy or child care,” Powers said. “That way, we can create a network of resources to put them in touch with whoever or whatever they need help with.”

The first step in that process, Powers said, is establishing a pregnancy resource center — something that she says is already in the works.

“We’re very close to getting the Caring Hearts PRC up and running,” Powers said. “In the beginning it will only be open a couple of days a week, but we’re almost there.

“What once was a dream Virginia and I had, looks like it will soon come to fruition.”

The center will be located at New Covenant Presbyterian Church, and Powers said she hopes to have it up and running by the end of February.

Those interested in helping with the resource center should call O’Beirne at 601-445-5783 or e-mail Powers at rpowers1@msn.com