PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A crowd gathered at the intersection of Knoxville and Hanssler Place in Peoria, in front of a Planned Parenthood, for an hour of prayer to protest abortion on Sunday.
The first Sunday of October is the yearly “National Life Chain,” where pro-life Americans gather across the country for similar protests.
Between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., the protestors held up signs along Knoxville Ave., drawing a reaction from many drivers. Car horns blared, some people waved, and others gave negative hand gestures.
Dan Smith has coordinated the yearly protest since 1993. He said National Life Chain started in California in 1988.
“We’re praying for an end of abortion, for the women who’ve had abortions, praying for them,” Smith said, “for the doctors, we’re just praying for all involved with abortion and to strengthen the resolve of everyone who is pro-life.”
Smith compared unborn fetuses to slaves with no rights, saying they have a right to live their lives.
“What abortion does is it’s saying that people before birth do not count at all; they have no rights. And that makes them slaves,” Smith said.
Smith said similar events took place at about 1,700 locations across the U.S. and Canada.
17-year-old Lily Wegner attended the Peoria Life Chain protest with her mother.
“My parents and grandparents kind of helped me understand why it’s important to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves and to really represent the 3,000 babies a day who are being slaughtered,” Wegner said.
Wegner started a “Students for Life” chapter at her high school, where she said they raised more than $300 for a local pregnancy center.
“We really need to talk about the baby, and how, yes, it’s in the woman’s body, but the baby should have a life as well. And half of those 3,000 children are women as well, and future women and future voters,” Wegner said.
According to the Planned Parenthood 2019-2020 Annual Report, 354,871 abortion services were carried out. That averages to about 972 abortions per day.
Smith said Sunday’s prayer protest falls during “40 Days for Life,” another anti-abortion campaign.
WMBD reached out to Planned Parenthood for comment but the Peoria office was closed. We will update this article once we are able to follow up with the office.