A Northwest suburban group opposed to abortion held its first "March for Life" on Saturday in Palatine -- three days before the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that recognized abortion rights.
About 400 people gathered at St. Theresa Parish to listen to anti-abortion speakers before marching about a half mile to a plaza at Northwest Highway and Hicks Road.
Speakers shared stories of how abortion affected their lives and encouraged the crowd not to be discouraged by the 40th anniversary of the Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision, but to allow God to "do something new" by reviving their efforts against abortions.
"We know every life is precious. We've got to save babies every day," said Joe Scheidler, national director of the Pro-Life Action League. "We've been called, and I think that's very important to remember."
Marchers attracted a few beeps as they carried signs with messages such as "Honk if you love babies," or "Pray to end abortion."
Organizers said Northwest Families for Life planned Saturday's event to unite anti-abortion activists of all faiths. They invited speakers Carol Rybacki, who told of the guilt and sorrow she felt after having an abortion 43 years ago, and Jim Sable, who was adopted and found out years later that he was conceived when his biological mother was raped.
Rybacki said since her abortion, she realized life is the right on which all other inalienable rights are based. She encouraged people to view the 40th anniversary of the legalization of abortion as a turning point in the battle to end the practice.
"The number 40 is used by God to represent a period of testing or judgment," Rybacki said, referring to the Christian tradition of Lent, in which believers prepare themselves spiritually for the dying and rising of Jesus Christ.
Planned Parenthood of Illinois' President and CEO Carole Brite reflects differently on the 40th anniversary of the Roe v Wade Supreme Court ruling, saying in a statement it is critical that women continue to have access to abortion.
"The 40th anniversary of Roe reminds us how far we have come: no more risky, back alley abortions and no more dreams shattered by one mistake or contraceptive failure," Brite said in a statement this week. "Safe and legal abortion means that one of the most difficult decisions a woman will ever make is a personal and private matter."
But Rybacki said she always has regretted having an abortion and wants to persuade other women who have unintended pregnancies to "choose life."
"I robbed my baby of the chance to live a life worth living," Rybacki said. "My problem didn't end with an abortion; it was only the beginning."
Tuesday marks 40 years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Roe v Wade case, which is credited with disallowing many state and federal restrictions on abortion.
The Archdiocese of Chicago has announced a series of events at churches this week to protest the decision and Cardinal George is taking part in a big anti-abortion rally Friday in Washington, D.C.