Kim Grande did not hesitate when she was asked what compelled her to stand out in the rain Sunday afternoon and take part in a “Life Chain” of people protesting abortions.
“To me, the right to life is the most important issue facing America today,” said Grande, 49, a mother of seven from Wheatfield. “If we don’t value the lives of babies and old people, and people with disabilities, I think everything else goes down the tubes.”
Grande, a member of St. Amelia’s Catholic Church in the Town of Tonawanda, spent an hour at the intersection of Niagara Falls Boulevard and Glenalby Road in the town. She was accompanied by her husband Paul, their sons and daughters – ranging in age from 8 to 17 – and about 70 other members of her parish.
According to the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, about 2,250 people joined the demonstration, carrying signs including “Save The Babies,” “Abortion Kills A Child” and “Adoption, Not Abortion.” The people lining Niagara Falls Boulevard stretched from Main Street in Buffalo to a location on Packard Road, 19 miles away in Niagara Falls.
The aim of the annual event is to form “a quiet, prayerful life chain,” rather than engaging in loud and angry protests, said Cheryl Calire, director of pro-life activities for the diocese.
“I was thrilled to see so many people engaging in a prayerful, peaceful way, standing up for life,” Calire said. “This is a non-confrontational event. We just try to get people to think about this very important issue for a few minutes.”
Abortion has been legal in the United States since 1973, when the Supreme Court issued the landmark Roe vs. Wade decision, giving women the right to choice.
Polls show that many Americans do not agree with the Catholic Church’s position that abortion is wrong in every circumstance and should be totally illegal.
In a nationwide Gallop poll taken earlier this year, 25 percent of people said abortion should be legal in all circumstances. Fifty-two percent said it should only be legal in certain circumstances.
Twenty percent said it should be illegal in all circumstances, and three percent said they had no opinion.
Although the issue of legalized abortion is important to millions of Americans, Grande and Polly Laudan, another demonstrator from the same parish, said they are surprised and disappointed at how little has been said about abortion during the current, heated campaign for president.
Laudan said she believes “the mainstream media” intentionally downplays the controversy.
Grande said she thinks the issue is a difficult one for many people, including those in politics and the media, because “it is so polarizing.”
“I think there are a lot of people in this country who have mixed feelings about it. They have decided to be undecided about the issue,” Grande said.
Both Grande and Laudan said they are convinced that Republican candidate Mitt Romney will do more to prevent abortions than the incumbent president, Barack Obama.
Obama has repeatedly gone on record as strongly pro-choice. He has said a woman’s right to choose abortion is a “fundamental constitutional right.”
Romney, for many years, said he supported a woman’s right to choice, but during the current campaign, he has stated that he is strongly opposed to abortion, except in cases of incest or rape.
As he stood in the rain on Sunday, Monsignor Thomas F. Maloney, the pastor of St. Amelia’s, said he hopes there will be plenty of discussion about abortion as the national campaign enters its final weeks.
“A woman’s right to choose, and her baby’s right to live – that’s an important issue. That is something that ought to be discussed a lot,” Maloney said. “To me, the right to life is the first, inalienable right for every person. That’s why I am out here today.”
As part of the diocese’s “Respect Life Sunday,” the region’s new bishop, Bishop Richard J. Malone, led a mass for 500 people at St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Buffalo. A large rosary, made up of helium-filled balloons, was released into the morning sky after the service.