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Churchill: At the Capitol, a silent protest amid the crowd

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Forty-four years ago, when Sheila Blasch was 18, she and her family went to Buffalo for her sister's wedding. The family was stopped at a red light when a drunk driver slammed into the back of their car.

The station wagon exploded in flames. Witnesses pulled Blasch, two siblings and her father from the fire, but her mother died in her seat. Blasch spent most of the next two years in a burn-recovery center. Badly scarred, her life was forever changed.

On Thursday, Blasch was where she has often been in recent months. She was standing outside the Assembly Chamber in the Capitol, surrounded by signs and posters decrying abortion. Her quiet protests began when the Legislature was weighing the Reproductive Health Act; she has rarely missed a session day since.

"Even the Smallest Person Can Change the Course of the Future," read one of her signs. "Life is a Human Right," said another.

It isn't entirely accurate to draw a line from the crash to Blasch's activism or to assume that one led directly to the other. The Colonie resident, 61, told me she was opposed to abortion before the accident and can't imagine believing otherwise.

But she also believes the tragedy gave her a perspective others don't........

© Times Union