YOUTH FOR LIFE. Young people hold signs proclaiming the dignity of human life at the March for Life 2015. March for Life Facebook
While Americans prepare to mark 43 years since the Jan. 22 Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion in this country, there is encouraging news.
Abortions are at record lows; and in 2015, 53 abortion facilities closed — an average of one per week — as Americans grow increasingly more pro-life. And last summer’s undercover videos exposing the selling of aborted baby parts launched a number of state and congressional investigations and ignited debate over taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood.
March for Life
To protest the legalization of abortion, record crowds are anticipated at pro-life rallies and marches throughout the country, with the largest being the annual March for Life (MarchforLife.org) in Washington. Half a million people are expected for the Jan. 22 March for Life. A rally, led by leading pro-life activists, begins at noon at the National Mall, followed by the march down Constitution Avenue past the Supreme Court. This year’s theme is “Pro-Life and Pro-Woman Go Hand in Hand.”
“The march is an opportunity to get the truth out to many voters that are terribly misinformed on life issues,” explained EWTN radio/TV talk-show host Teresa Tomeo, who has reported on the march live for EWTN for almost a decade.
“It keeps getting larger and is becoming more of an international event,” she said. “It is also having an impact around the world, as similar marches are being organized in other countries.”
Tomeo pointed out that a growing number of men are taking part in the “Silent No More” awareness movement and rally, which takes place at the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court at the end of the march. “It is powerful to hear how they regret their lost fatherhood and to see them carrying signs with the same message,” she said.
The face of the March for Life is decidedly youthful. Countless buses drive through the night from high schools and colleges across the country. Nick Emmel, religious studies instructor at St. Mary’s Central High School in Bismarck, N.D., is bringing three buses of students and local citizens to the march this year. He has done this for three years at St. Mary’s and for three years previously at Shanley High School in Fargo. Last year, the entire Shanley school attended, and more than 500 North Dakotan students led the march.
“Once they’ve experienced the march, our students are overwhelmed by how energetic the pro-life movement is,” Emmel said. “They recognize that they are not alone; it’s an issue impacting the whole country.” After the experience, students pour their energy into pro-life causes, according to Emmel.
Victor Fleck, who attended last year as a junior at St. Mary’s, commented, “Being surrounded by so many people who were working together to stop abortion, I felt like we had a direct connection with God and were surrounded by his grace.”
Another junior, Sarah Zander, said, “It made me appreciate that not only is God working in the hearts of those at St. Mary’s, but in 700,000 others.”
Midwest, West and South
Second in size to the march in Washington is the Walk for Life West Coast, which will be on Jan. 23. Last year, an estimated 50,000 marchers participated in the 1.8-mile walk through San Francisco. This year’s 12th annual walk will have an international flavor. Speakers include David Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress and maker of the game-changing undercover videos about Planned Parenthood; Latino music legend and pro-life activist Emmanuel from Mexico; and Obianuju Ekeocha, the founder and president of Culture of Life Africa. Also on Jan. 23 in California are OneLife LA and the San Diego Walk for Life.
In an interview for the Register, pro-life activist and former Planned Parenthood facility director Abby Johnson said, “I tell people if you’ve never been to the California walk, you should go at least one time. It’s very Holy Spirit-filled.”
This year, Johnson will take part in the D.C. march and the Midwest March for Life on Jan. 16 in Des Moines, Iowa, as well as some of the pro-life rallies and marches taking place across Texas, her home state. “There are so many young people that attend, which makes you feel very hopeful for the future of the pro-life movement,” she said. “It helps us feel that we are not alone, when so many people stand together.”
Other events throughout the country protesting Roe v. Wade include: the Jan. 17 Oregon Right to Life Rally, where Lila Rose, pro-life activist and founder and president of Live Action, will speak; the Jan. 22 Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life rally, at the Minnesota Capitol in St. Paul; and three different Louisiana Life walks (north, south and central) on Jan. 23. Their theme, “We Are Worth More Than the Sum of Our Parts,” is a response to the Planned Parenthood videos revealing the sale of aborted baby body parts.
Abortion survivor and well-known pro-life speaker Melissa Ohden is the keynote at the Midwest March for Life in Iowa, the March for Life Chicago on Jan. 17 and the Texas Rally for Life in Austin on Jan. 23.
After nine years of sharing her own dramatic story, Ohden said that she is now seeing the effect the undercover videos are having on the public. Following her testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last September, she was pleased with the response. Instead of the usual bombardment of negative comments after public testimony, she said there were only two. “Historically, our society has not wanted to hear stories like mine,” she said. “With the videos coming out, that’s changing. People are more positive. It’s a testament to the fact that we are in a place and a time where people want to hear the truth.”
Patti Armstrong writes from North Dakota.
For additional events near you, check with your state right-to-life office.
EWTN will air all major pro-life events; see “TV Picks” on B3 and EWTN.com.