By Don Bolding

Killeen Daily Herald

Despite a cold rain that started just as organizers were preparing to hand out signs, about two dozen people gathered Sunday afternoon under a forest of umbrellas and ponchos to recite an opening prayer for the Central Texas Voices for Life's annual hourlong walk along W.S. Young Drive to support the rights of the unborn and influence mothers toward bearing their children.

The marchers mixed cheerfulness in fellowship with the stoic resolution of their cause, perhaps a little more grim than it might have been due to the difficulty of staying dry. But at the appointed hour of 2 p.m., they recited a prayer in unison and walked east from the Hobby Lobby parking lot to take up posts.

Leaders at the Hobby Lobby location were Voices director Dennis DeWine and Linda and Andy Busti. Another group formed under the leadership of Ed Szeman in the Killeen Mall parking lot to fan out along W.S. Young north of Central Texas Expressway. The group was trying to form a solid line from the offices of the Killeen Women's Health Center, an abortion provider, as far north as they could go on W.S. Young.

A final count of participants showed more than 100 during the hour, 40 starting at the Hobby Lobby location and over 60 at the mall.

"The participation of that many people in such adverse conditions shows how strong the movement is becoming," he said. "We got a lot of thumbs-up signs and other displays of support. I only heard of one negative comment from a passer-by. People are more aware of what an abortion actually is and are more willing to stand up and be counted. We hear many stories of people encountering people praying around an abortion clinic and turning around, thanking the people later for saving their child's life.

"Abortion proponents refer to the unborn fetus as a 'mass,' but at 10 weeks, you have a beating heart. At that point, most women don't even realize they're pregnant. And a partial-birth abortion would be a live birth if a doctor didn't crush the baby's head."

Andy Costi said, "We've had more than 50 million abortions in this country since Roe v. Wade," the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. "That's 1.2 million a year. And some people still go about their business as if it made no difference. They just disconnect from it. We're trying to do what we can to raise awareness and concern."

Central Texas Voices for Life began several years ago at St. Paul Chong Hasang Catholic Church in Harker Heights but includes members from many churches. The October walk is a project of the National Life Chain, a confederation of local groups, observing the period from Sept. 23 to Nov. 1 as "Respect for Life Month." Most local groups hold their events the first Sunday in October, and the Temple affiliate held one last week.

Signs were provided by a group that originated in College Station called "40 Days for Life," whose name refers to the repeated reference to 40-day time periods in the Bible.

The W.S. Young event interrupted an all-day prayer vigil at the women's health center, which neighbors the Killeen office of Hope Pregnancy Center, an organization supporting mothers who elect against abortion.

"Our whole mission is to educate people about the harmful effects of abortion. We come together to pray for greater respect for life, for an end to abortion and for the healing of our nation for its offenses against God and against human life," Linda Busti said. "We hope to prompt people to learn some more and to reach women suffering stress after an abortion. Guilt and depression often don't show up until years later."

Contact Don Bolding at or (254) 501-7557.

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