Quiet and polite, young Rhiannon Dick seems an unlikely activist. When asked why she left her Michigan home and nannying job to join a cross-country pro-life walk, Dick responded, "I wanted to do something to make a difference -- and my parents let me."
Dick is one of 14 college students who stopped in Salt Lake this weekend on their way from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. They're members of Crossroads, a pro-life organization directed by university students in Steubenville, Ohio. Most of them are Catholics and students at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. All of them believe that abortion is always wrong."We're survivors (of abortion) really," said the group's leader, Mark DeYoung. "Over 4,000 humans die in a day in a place like this," he said, pointing to the Wasatch Women's Clinic, 715 E. 3900 South, where the group was protesting Friday.
Crossroads members protested Saturday outside the Utah Women's Clinic, 515 S. 400 East, and will spend time at five area churches today where they have speaking engagements.
Rosaries in hand, the youths kneel or stand and repeat Hail Marys together. And they always have a prayer in their hearts, said Jessica Sherwood, 23.
"That's our main focus here. We pray for the women going in that they will make the right choice."
Sherwood said the group does not condemn women who have had abortions. In fact, Crossroads members counsel women who are dealing with the regrets and trauma of having an abortion, she said.
For the most part, however, members protest outside clinics and speak to church youth groups about self-worth and abstaining from sex until marriage. To those entering the clinics, the group offers anti-abortion literature and abortion alternatives.
"A lot of women don't think we know what they're going through," Sherwood said, "but we've helped so many women (that we do)."
This is the fifth year members of Crossroads have made the 3,000-mile trek. The seven women and seven men take turns walking, so someone is walking every step of the way, Sherwood said. The others caravan in an RV and a van. They began their journey May 17 and anticipate protesting on the Capitol steps in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 15.