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Organizers upbeat after big turnout

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Carroll Area Iowans for Life President Eugene Handlos said following Life Chain Sunday he’s seeing encouraging developments in the effort to end abortions.

One good sign, he said, was the big turnout in Carroll for Life Chain Sunday, a pro-life prayer vigil held the first weekend of October every year in cities throughout North America.

Handlos’ wife, Megan, took count as she pushed their 16-month-old daughter, Joanna, in a stroller, and came up with nearly 160 participants along Highway 30 in the Carroll County Courthouse area.

Handlos noted the participants covered a wide span of ages.

“I believe the majority of people support pro-life,” he said.

Pro-life proponents, he said, recognize the sanctity of life from the time of conception to natural death.

“Babies are a gift from God, and the time we have grandparents and great-grandparents with us every day is a gift,” he said.

New laws in states and cities targeting abortions are also positive steps, Handlos said.

Handlos said local pro-life advocates even are exploring the possibility of proposing a local ordinance that would make Carroll a sanctuary city for the unborn. Similar ordinances outlawing abortions have been approved in a number of other U.S. cities.

Although there are currently no abortion sites locally, an ordinance could block any possibility of starting one, he said.

On the state level, the Legislature this year approved a proposed amendment that declares there is no right to an abortion under the Iowa Constitution. That proposal requires approval again in the next legislative session before it can be put up for statewide vote as early as 2024. The proposed amendment was introduced is a response to a 2018 Iowa Supreme Court ruling striking down a law requiring a 72-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion. The court said in that ruling the state constitution guarantees women freedom to make their own health decisions, including whether to have an abortion.

Not only was he pleased with the Life Chain turnout, Handlos said, but he also noted participants responded to a request to bring signs with a wide variety of messages.

The traditional signs — “Stop Abortion Now,” “Abortion Kills Children” and “Abortion Hurts Women” — were still evident; however, there were more, including some that were handmade. Some of those read, “Men Regret Lost Fatherhood,” “If It’s Not a Baby, You’re Not Pregnant,” “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” “A Mother’s Womb, God’s Workshop,” “Women’s Rights Begin in the Womb,” “All Lives Matter” and “Smile — Your Mom Chose Life.”

Handlos said of the variety of signs, “You never know what message is going to strike one person.”

Many people driving Highway 30 honked in support.

The Rev. Alan Miller, pastor of Peace Lutheran Church in Glidden and Trinity Lutheran Church in Coon Rapids, held the “Jesus Loves the Little Children” and “A Mother’s Womb, God’s Workshop” signs, which he attached back-to-back. They were made by his daughters, now ages 30 and 26, when they were children participating in Carroll’s Life Chain.

“We value life from the moment of conception until natural death, the sanctity of life,” Miller said.

Miller said he too is encouraged by new laws against abortion and the new make-up of the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The Trump appointees, I think, have turned our Supreme Court conservative,” he said. “With pro-life cases going to the Supreme Court, there may be more protections for the unborn and the vulnerable.”

Pointing to youths’ participation in the Life Chain, Miller said, “I think more and more young people are becoming pro-life because of the science. The ultrasounds are so clear that you can just see the baby in the womb.”

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