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Group gathers for pro-life vigil

NATCHEZ — Approximately 35 men, women and children braved freezing winds on the bluff to pray both for the 50 million lives lost by legalized abortion and those women who have been affected by it.

Pro-Life Natchez-Adams County sponsored its fifth-annual candlelight vigil Friday evening to mark the 38th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

In the past 38 years, approximately 50 million abortions have reportedly occurred in the United States.

“(The service) is not just for the babies; it’s for the mothers too,” Pro-Life co-founder Virginia O’Beirne said.

Nearly 140 white crosses were placed in the ground in front of the gazebo on the Natchez bluff representing nearly 140 abortions occurring every hour in the United States on average.

“There are better options,” O’Beirne said.

Pro-Life co-chair Ruth Powers said many women that have made the “ultimate decision” to have an abortion talk about it as a negative experience.

“And we’ve been working behind the scenes on getting some action (accomplished),” Powers said.

Powers said Pro-Life is ready to begin making moves on opening a pregnancy resource center in Natchez.

Resources exist for pregnant women to take advantage of in Natchez, Powers said.

“The problem is there is no clearing house,” she said.

A pro-life pregnancy resource center would function as a one-stop shop, directing women to the agencies and resources available.

The center would also provide practical support, such as diapers and baby clothes. Information about adoption would also be made available.

The center would also provide “someone to walk beside (a pregnant woman) as she navigates the field of paperwork,” Powers aid.

“Most of all, (the center will introduce) people who care about (a pregnant woman) and her child as she faces what might be a difficult time in her life,” she said.

Powers said Pro-Life plans to use $2,000 raised by a fundraiser at St. Mary’s Basilica as seed money to get the center off the ground.

“All we need is a place and people willing to go through some training to staff (the center),” Powers said.

Despite Pro-Life’s purpose to stop legal abortion, Powers and O’Beirne said their message is not one of condemnation, bitterness or anger toward those who have had abortions.

“We’re not here to point fingers; not here to try to make people feel bad. We’re here to help” Powers said.

“It’s not condemnation; it’s compassion,” O’Beirne said.

Pediatrician Dr. Brian Stretch spoke at the vigil about some of the physical and psychological affects of abortion.

He said some clinics tell women the procedure compares to having a tooth pulled, but abortions can cause the mother to experience infections, sterility, shock and death in some cases.

Abortions can also increase chances for breast, ovarian and liver cancer, Stretch said.

Psychological side effects of abortion include post-traumatic stress disorder, sexual dysfunction, low self-esteem and increased drug alcohol consumption, Stretch said.

Powers said prayer is healing, helpful and part of their mission, but the group is ready to take action with a resource center.

“We’re ready to move forward and we’re looking for some help,” she said.

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

O’Beirne closed the service with a political reminder. She said residents should contact their legislators regarding abortion and possible changes to the health care bill.

“No funding for abortion. No compromise; that’s not negotiable,” O’Beirne said.

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