The Life Chain is a pro-life social movement organization, one of the largest in the country. It was started in 1987 in Yuba City and Marysville by a small California-based pro-life ministry called Please Let Me Live. Every first Sunday of October, Life Chain invites various churches and congregations across the United States to stand on designated sidewalks to pray and rally for one hour.
Beliefs and Goals
Followers of Please Let Me Live and the active participants of the Life Chain believe that "the abortion battle is first and foremost a spiritual one and that the solution rests chiefly with the Church". Furthermore, they believe that they have the power necessary to "end the killing," but until recently had yet to find the will to do so. This power, and the overall victory over abortion, lies in church ministers and pastors; the nation's "most vital leaders."
Please Let Me Live stresses the importance of being active citizens and becoming politically involved in the fight against abortion. However, they also stress the importance of separating those politics from the Life Chain, which would, according to the Life Chain Coordinator's Manual, weaken their emphasis on prayer, lead to disunity within their ranks, and sharpen the media's attacks against them.
"A foundational goal of the Life Chain is to unite all Christian clergy and Christian laity". Thus, another important goal is to unite all pro-life organizations in the promotion of National Life Chain Sunday, held annually on the first Sunday in October.
Life Chain saw its beginning in 1987, when 2000 pro-life activists rallied on the sidewalks of Yuba City and Marysville, California, praying, and holding an assortment of pro-life and anti-abortion signs.
By 1990, Life Chain had broadened its repertoire to include prayer vigils, full-page advertisements, billboard campaigns, and comprehensive door-to-door distribution of pro-life literature. That year, their level of participation grew enormously, seeing 17,000 in Orange County, 10,000 in Fresno, 20,000 in San Diego, and 16,500 in Sacramento.
National Life Chain Sunday '91 saw 373 chains across the United States, with an overall participation of 771,000 people. Each year, these number grew larger; National Life Chain Sunday '92 attracted more than 800 cities and towns across the nation with 975,000 participants. That same year, Canada had its own series of Life Chains, which included 97 Chains and 80,000 participants. National Life Chain Sunday '93 saw over 900 Chains in the United States and Canada, but attendance taking was discontinued "due to the excessive preoccupation with numbers and a lack of emphasis on prayer."
Historically, the most often-used message has been "Abortion Kills Children" in blue text on a white background. Recently, several other signs have been produced for demonstrators, some of which have been translated into Spanish and French.
- Jesus Forgives and Heals
- Adoption: The Loving Option
- Lord, Forgive Us and Our Nation
- Abortion Hurts Women
- Pray to End Abortion
- Life: The First Inalienable Right
In September 1991, Life Chain activists formed a demonstration in Manhattan, New York City during which 1200 abortion opponents formed a "vast, sparse human cross." This relatively small number of pro-lifers was met with an opposing Pro-Choice demonstration, consisting of 4000 abortion-rights marchers who rallied down the streets and "engulfed them in a roar of chants, shouts, and anger." Despite the large numbers of police and activists from both sides, no injuries were reported and only three people were taken in to custody for disorderly conduct. After the streets settled down, both sides were quick to claim victory; the abortion-rights group saw success in its superior numbers, while the anti-abortion group saw success in its superior morality in the face of an overwhelming opposition.
- "Over 1,000 Cities Form National Life Chain". Retrieved 2009-11-09.
- "National Life Chain". Retrieved 2009-11-09.
- "Life Chain Coordinators' Manual" (pdf). Retrieved 2009-11-09.
- McFadden, Robert D. (1991-09-30). "Rally by Foes of Abortion is Outjeered in Manhattan". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-09.