By AMY HEGGEN
---- — PLATTSBURGH — About 50 men, women and children stretched along the sidewalk on Smithfield Boulevard in the rain to participate in an hour of prayer Sunday afternoon.
Champlain Valley Right to Life, a non-denominational organization serving Franklin, Essex and Clinton counties that campaigns to end abortion, gathered to take part in the National Life Chain, an annual event across the country.
The peaceful demonstrators carried umbrellas and signs with messages such as “Lord, forgive us and our children” and “abortion kills children.” A few participants sang “Amazing Grace,” while others prayed.
Marty Mischenko, a pastor at Mountain Meadows and the director of Champlain Valley Right to Life, said the goal Sunday was to span as far as possible along the sidewalk.
“The purpose today is to show our support and our solidarity for men and women who have experienced or survived abortion,” he said.
Champlain Valley Right to Life champions rights from birth to natural death, Mischenko explained.
“We can provide (parents) the resources to make sure they make the right and healthy choice for their baby,” he said.
Resources are available for parents in the Plattsburgh area, Mischenko said, but they may not always be obvious or easy to find.
“We’re all about advocacy,” he said. “If they’re pro-life, they’re welcome here.”
Mischenko also planned to have a peaceful presence in front of Planned Parenthood.
His wife, Deborah Mischenko, came to support the cause and handed out laminated signs for the demonstrators to carry.
Though she’s never had an abortion, she’s thought about it in the past and was glad she didn’t follow through. Mrs. Mischenko hopes the demonstration will inspire others to make the same choice.
“Other people will see the signs and stop to ask questions,” she said. “There is help out there.”
Ken Racette of Plattsburgh came to pray for babies lost to abortion.
“It’s like praying for a person who’s dying,” Racette said. “We’d like abortion to end and people to realize that babies are human beings.”
Jann Shambo of Plattsburgh also came to pray, but she prayed for another group.
“I’m here to pray for all the people who don’t want to realize what’s going on,” she said. “They’re going to have to realize what’s really happening and join the effort to help.”
Rosanne Trevaio, 15, of Cadyville, participates in the National Life Chain every year. She said her presence makes people aware of the issue.
“I wanted to stand up for life because I want other people to have life,” Trevaio said.
A representative of Planned Parenthood of North Country New York couldn’t be reached for comment Sunday. But in response to previous pro-life events such as the Life Chain, officials have pointed out that abortion is only about 3 percent of the services the agency provides, with the rest being preventative health care, annual exams, pap tests, birth control services, family planning and testing for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
Also, they have said Planned Parenthood supports a woman’s right to make her own decisions about the health care she receives.