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Pro-life and pro-choice signs turn heads on Great Northern Road (12 photos)

Life Chain anti-abortion event has been in the Sault for two decades, but the counter-protest is slowly gaining traction

Pro-life and pro-choice groups lined several city blocks Sunday, waving picket signs at motorists on Great Northern Road. 

Life Chain, a Campaign Life Coalition event which sees similar anti-abortion protests taking place across North America Sunday, has been in the Sault since the nineties.

“We’re here to remind the community and our citizens that abortion is still wrong, even though it’s legal,” said Life Chain organizer Bill Murphy. 

But now in its third year, the Life Chain counter-protest offers a vastly different message. 

“We don’t have their numbers, but the fact that we can make a pretty big statement this year, I think, is really important,” said counter-protest co-organizer Gillian Griffith. “We’re not necessarily out there to change their minds so much as show support for people in the Sault who have had an abortion, who are considering an abortion or who will consider an abortion.”

“We’re out here to show support for those people because it’s really a lot of shame that those people are bringing when they protest. We just want to be supportive of the people they’re targeting.”

Many of the protesters who hit the street with picket signs for the anti-abortion event Sunday were representing about 20 churches locally. 

“We are against abortion, which is just a wholesale murder of young children, and it’s a shame,” said John Majic, who attends Life Chain each year. “In this world, we need to change and become good God-fearing people, and always be against this awful thing that’s happening in our world today.” 

Counter-protester Sarah Vikken says that people should be able to control their own reproduction and that if it’s your body, it’s your business. 

“Some people really need abortions. They’re health care - they’re not political, they’re not a hot-button issue,” said Vikken. “Abortion is health care. Everyone deserves access to health care.” 

Murphy, a former board trustee with the Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board, says that his Life Chain anti-abortion event is a “prayerful, peaceful witness to the truth” that abortion is wrong. 

“We’ve had generations of children raised in a country where abortion is legal and accepted as normal, and there is loss of understanding of the scientific reasons why it is wrong to kill the child,” he told SooToday. “The child at eight weeks has fingerprints, its own DNA, its own blood type. It is a unique human being.”

Amanda Zuke, who co-organized the Life Chain counter-protest, was encouraged by Sunday’s turnout, which was described by organizers as the largest one since it began in 2017. 

“I’m very happy to see people fighting back against the dominant narrative, which has been sort of taken over by the anti-choice side for so many years,” said Zuke. “I find people are realizing that these rights that we have are not a settled matter, that they can be threatened at any time, and that we have to be vigilant to maintain our human rights.”

The Life Chain event is staged in more than 200 locations across Canada each year.