At First Choice fundraiser, anti-abortion advocates affirm life is sacrosanct

·3 min read

May 22—ANDERSON — In the weeks since the leak of a draft opinion signaling the U.S. Supreme Court's apparent intent to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 49-year-old decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protection of abortion rights, passions connected to the issue have been galvanized.

But many of those who arrived at Mounds State Park on Saturday morning to participate in a fundraising walk for First Choice for Women said the rhetorical noise from politicians and activists on both sides of the issue is drowning out an important message.

"I think the importance of life itself and caring for one another and caring for others is being lost," said Daniel Stevens, senior pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Anderson. "We live in a selfish society, so most of the time the reasoning for taking a life is selfish. We lose sight of life that is created in the image of God."

For First Choice, a faith-based organization offering free support services to pregnant women, new mothers and their loved ones, Saturday's Walk for Life was one of its biggest annual fundraisers. Last year, such events accounted for nearly 40% of the organization's operating revenue, according to its year-end financial statement.

"We help those in need, and even those who have chosen abortion, that's something where we still offer help," said Kailee McKnight, executive director for First Choice. "We don't shut that door."

The group, along with several other anti-abortion advocacy organizations in the area, was seeing interest in its services rise even before the May 2 Supreme Court leak. That news has served to help anti-abortion supporters redouble efforts to present arguments knocking down what they consider to be misconceptions of their position on the issue.

"Really, what Roe v. Wade is, is the decision at the federal level," said Cindy Costerison, who chairs the board of directors at First Choice. "If it is overturned, the decisions about abortion and what's legal will go to the states. Many people think it's going to completely outlaw abortions, and it will not do that. We are always going to have this with us."

Costerison said another claim from some pro-abortion rights advocates — that anti-abortion supporters only care only for unborn children and not the mothers carrying them — is also a falsehood, proven so by the programming First Choice offers. The goal, she said, is to make abortion "unnecessary."

"We follow our mothers and babies until the child is four or five years old. So that is not true," she said. "We want to get that mom and baby a good start. We just started a fatherhood initiative, so we're including the dads in that, and that's been really, really valuable. We're seeing amazing things come from that as well."

Participants in the mile-long walk solicited donations from friends, co-workers and family members. An estimated 400 people took part, with many of them noting they came as a way of expressing support for their communities.

"Personally, I feel like abortion's wrong," said Rick Huffman, who traveled from Randolph County to support his daughter, who works for First Choice. "I'm just here to support the communities in these areas, these surrounding counties, and just do what I can do.

"I think it's important to give women a choice," he added, "and let them know that there's an opportunity to go somewhere where they've got people that will help them."

Follow Andy Knight on Twitter @Andrew_J_Knight, or call 765-640-4809.