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Anti-abortion advocates form human chain in Tamp

Thousands of anti-abortion advocates lined the west side of Dale Mabry Highway for one hour Sunday afternoon, their message plain in the neatly stenciled signs they held _ "Abortion Kills Children."

"I'm here because I hope it will get people thinking," said Barbara Orr, a member of the Carrollwood Assembly of God Church. "If people see all of us out here who care, maybe it can a difference."

Orr was one link of the "life chain," an annual, nationwide event co-sponsored this year by the Tampa Bay Friends for Life Foundation in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

The event is designed to stress the humanity of the child, said Mark Donohue, president of Tampa Bay Friends for Life.

"We don't want to pit the woman against the child," Donohue said. "We want to stress that these are children. That's what we try to do _ get the facts across."

A handful of abortion rights activists gathered at one intersection along Dale Mabry, but there wasn't much conversation between the two groups. There was plenty of horn beeping from motorists, and an occasional "pro-choice" was yelled from a passing car.

Many protesters were part of church groups and still had on the dresses or suits they wore to morning services. There were equal numbers of men, women and children, who gave a wide range of reasons for their anti-abortion stance.

For Jim Hussin, 37, a member of St. Timothy's Catholic Church who was there with his three children, the abortion issue goes beyond religion. Just as most people agree murder isn't right, abortion isn't, either, he said.

"I just think if people could understand that, they would know this is wrong," Hussin said. "I think most people are basically good people, they just don't understand that.

"That's why I'm here," he said. "I hope seeing us here will keep people thinking."

University of South Florida students Ken Medina, 22, and Ted Staab, 28, said they joined the life chain even though they realize theirs is the "politically incorrect" position on a college campus, they joked.

"It's not religious for me," Medina said. "I'm agnostic. I base my belief on biology."

Staab said abortion leads back to a basic question of justice.

"We should try to give everyone a fair shake. Those people talk about their rights and say this is a democracy," he said, pointing to a small group of abortion rights supporters gathered at Dale Mabry and Waters Avenue. "Well, it's also the unborn child's democracy, too."

The group of about 15 counterdemonstrators were from the Tampa Bay Chapter of the National Organization for Women and the newly formed Students United for Reproductive Freedom.

"We're here, No. 1, so the people of Tampa won't think they're alone in being pro-choice," said Lori Guevara, the group's president.

Guevara and members of NOW said most of their members are concentrating their energy on this year's election, hence the small turnout.

"It's not so important how many people are out here for one hour Sunday afternoon," Guevara said. "But we have many people who will be voting."

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