Deacon Greg Sampson (left) leads prayer at the Carroll County Courthouse parking at the start of the Life Chain Sunday afternoon.
Deacon Greg Sampson (left) leads prayer at the Carroll County Courthouse parking at the start of the Life Chain Sunday afternoon.
October 7, 2013


Rain, wind, cold. So what? Despite those conditions about 60 people participated in the annual Chain of Life rally against abortions on Sunday afternoon along Highway 30 in Carroll's central-business district.

Dave Prenger, of Carroll, president of Carroll Area Iowans for Life, said following the hour-long rally, "I've been in charge of the rally about 20 years, and this is the first time I can remember it rained. We've had some cold days once in awhile, but we've never had rain and cold before. So we were challenged a little bit."

Helen Reicks, who was among those lining the north side of Highway 30 between Adams and Main Streets holding an octagonal, red-and-white "Stop Abortion Now" sign, said the rally participants were "bound and determined" to show up for a life-and-death cause.

"They have to make up their minds to stop abortion," Reicks said. "I don't know why they think the life of a child is not worth anything. To me it's worth everything."

Reicks and her husband, the late Jim Reicks, had two sons and four daughters, and their children have given Helen 17 grandchildren. She added that her parents, Joe and Jean Martin, had 11 children and "moved to this town because it has good Catholic schools."

Reicks said her family has been active in pro-life efforts. In fact, four generations of the family participated in a 40 Days for Life prayer rally in Ames.

Reicks said she's seen progress but would like to see more success in the campaign against abortions.

"I'd like it to be better," she remarked, adding, "I'm here for the kids. I love the kids. It's our responsibility to stand up for life."

Family also was the focus of Amy Dea's participation on Sunday.

She and husband Darren, from Templeton, have 11 children, and Amy was in Sunday's Life Chain with seven of their children: Hanah, 16; Clare, 14; Teresa, 12; Peter, 10; Marie, 7; Joseph, 5; and Christine, 16 months. The older children held signs they painted tracing progression of growth from conception: "Life Begins at Conception," "18 Days: A Baby's Heart Begins to Beat," "43 Days: Brain Coordinates Movements," "8 Weeks All Organs Are Functioning," and "10 Weeks: A Sense of Touch."

The Deas' four other children are ages 18, 21, 22 and 28 and also devoted to the pro-life effort, Amy said. Two of the older children attend Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan. Amy said Benedictine "is a very pro-life campus," with about seven busloads of students traveling to the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., protesting the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision in January 1973 that legalized abortions.

Dea is secretary of Carroll Area Iowans for Life and said, "This (Life Chain) is one of the things we do every year."

She said of participation in Sunday's nasty weather (temps in the 40s, rain and wind gusts up to 25 mph), "We may touch the hearts of some out here today. Wouldn't that be wonderful if we did."

Carroll Area Iowans for Life president Prenger said of those who turned out on Sunday, "It shows how dedicated pro-life people are. You know how much they value life and consider whatever it takes we need to do to stop abortions."

Prenger said he's encouraged by a couple of recent developments.

One is the decision by the Iowa Board of Medicine to ban a video-conferencing method for distributing abortion pills.

Also, Prenger believes the 40 Days for Life campaign is having positive results, leading abortion clinics to close and influencing women to decide against having abortion.

The 40 Days for Life prayer rally in Carroll gathers from noon to 1 p.m. Sept. 25-Nov. 3, at Santa Maria Winery, northeast corner of Highway 30 and Carroll Street.

"A lot more people are waving, giving us thumb's-up and smiling this year than ever before," Prenger said.

He added, with a laugh, "I don't know if that means there are more people who are willing to take a stand for life, who are open to it and friendly, or if they're just used to seeing us there every year."

"(Forty Days for Life) is a phenomenal program. It's probably the best thing we have going right now," Prenger said.

Prenger said he's encouraged by the message and actions of Pope Francis, who in March succeeded Pope Benedict XVI as leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

"He's all about protecting all life," Prenger said.

Prenger said Francis has maintained a strong pro-life stance while also trying to broaden the church's focus by reaching out to the poor and disabled.

"Whenever he goes somewhere to speak," Prenger said, "the first thing he seems to do is go over to the handicapped and give them a hug, talk to them, and pray with them. He really has a lot of compassion for those who are suffering, and we should all be that way. He's the pope we need right now. We need somebody to lead by example. He's telling us we need to get out there, not just stay home and settle down with all the people who agree with us but get out there in the world and talk to everybody."