Culture of Life ‘Proclaimed from the Rooftops’ in Connecticut

COMMENTARY: Proponents of the culture of death are rattled. And they should be.

The Sisters of Life joins a crowd of 2,000 people March 23 for the Connecticut March for Life on the steps of the state Capitol in Hartford.
The Sisters of Life joins a crowd of 2,000 people March 23 for the Connecticut March for Life on the steps of the state Capitol in Hartford. (photo: National Catholic Register)

Something new is happening in America. Something big. Something so novel that we feel its effects even in Connecticut.

On Wednesday, March 23, the first-ever Connecticut March for Life was held on the steps of our state Capitol in Hartford. There were more than 2,000 Connecticut pro-lifers in attendance.

You can read The Hartford Courant’s coverage both before and after the March. Or the story that ran in the eight Connecticut daily newspapers owned by Hearst Media. Or you can read Connecticut’s pro-abortion politicians trying not to sound rattled in CT Mirror.

But they are rattled. And they should be. This is something new.

First, the amount of local media coverage was something new. Never before had the pro-life cause received this much favorable press in Connecticut. Never before had we been so successful in getting a fair hearing for the right to life of the unborn child. 

Second, the March itself was something new. Similar events in the past would bring, at most, about 300 people to the Capitol. Last week, we brought 2,000. On a Wednesday. This in a state where abortion rights have been untouchable for decades.

And oh, what a crowd. They were young. They were old. They were everything in between.

They were Black, white and Hispanic. Male and female. Democrat and Republican. Protestant and Catholic.

This was reflected in the array of speakers at the pre-march rally at the Capitol. Evangelical leader LeRoy Bailey and Christina Bennett, both African-Americans, spoke of their love for mother and child. Bailey, a towering figure among Connecticut Evangelicals, spoke with the authority of Scripture. Bennett spoke from experience — she had almost been aborted in Hartford 40 years ago. “My graveyard is now my battleground,” she told the cheering crowd. 

Sister of Life Mariae Agnus Dei brought a beautiful, feminine touch to her speech. You had to hear the inflection in her voice when she said, “Jesus is the boss.” Only a bride of Christ could have delivered that line the way she did.

Hartford Archbishop Leonard Blair opened the rally in prayer by refuting falsehoods against the pro-life movement. Driving the point home was Lisa Maloney, who heads a coalition of Connecticut pregnancy centers. She described a new state law attacking those centers and the lawsuitshe has filed against it. State Rep. Lezlye Zupkus, R-Prospect, spoke as an adoptive mother. Jeanne Mancini, national president of the March for Life, radiated that gentleness that has made her the best public face of our movement. Chris Healy, the Catholic Conference’s executive director, emceed the rally with his customary charm.

Following the rally, we marched around Bushnell Park. The city of Hartford had never seen anything like it. Two thousand people marching through the “Insurance Capital of the World” on a weekday in defense of the unborn child. 

Credit goes to the partnership between March for Life (the national organization), the Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference (the policy arm of our local bishops) and to my own organization, the Family Institute of Connecticut. (There were myriad other entities that made it a success, too, particularly the Knights of Columbus.)

But our good work alone did not accomplish this new thing. It happened because of other new things that are in the mix. New things that, if we are attentive to the signs of the times, may well be a movement of God.

The first and biggest of these new things is the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade. After 49 years, the Supreme Court ruling that imposed the legalization of abortion on all 50 states may finally come to an end. The implications for our common life together as a nation are enormous.

Here in Connecticut, the end of Roe would not mean a restoration of legal protection for the unborn child. Tragically, our state codified Roe into its statues in 1990. That “1990 law” would be the thing that keeps the killing legal in a post-Roe Connecticut. 

But if Roe is overturned, the 1990 law could be the next domino to fall. Not overnight and not for a long time. But that both sides of the abortion issue here in Connecticut even consider it a possibility is something profoundly new. 

Thus it is that Connecticut’s pro-abortion forces, rattled as they are by the first-ever Connecticut March for Life, are moving quickly to solidify the permanence of legal abortion in our state while they still can.

It certainly made the week of the March a busy one for Family Institute of Connecticut. Just two days before the March, Bennett, my colleague, testified against HB 5414, a bill seeking to make Connecticut a sanctuary state for out-of-state abortionists who have violated the law in their own states. On March 9, she had testified against yet another abortion expansion bill, HB 5261, which would allow non-doctors to perform abortions.

Just two days following the March, I testified against SJ 30, a resolution that would put language claiming a right to abortion into our state constitution. 

Why the sudden flurry of activity by Connecticut’s pro-abortion overlords? Because of the new things. The potential overturing of Roe, yes. But it is more than that.

It is that huge crowd right outside their door the day of the Connecticut March for Life. The Legislature was in session at the time. Our cheers were so loud that they had to halt their business until we were done. 

It is the recent arrival of Rep. Treneé McGee, D-West Haven, at the Capitol. McGee is a young, female, Black, pro-life Democrat. She represents something genuinely new in Connecticut politics. We have seen pro-life Democrats in Connecticut before. We have never seen one with her youth and energy. Her campaign caused a brief split between the Black Caucus and the white progressives who attacked her. The Black Caucus’ defense of McGee is very much to their credit — and it may be a harbinger of things to come. 

And there is one last new thing. The biggest of them all. The consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by Pope Francis and all the world’s bishops on March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation.

That day, I was running back and forth between testifying against the Abortion Amendment, monitoring the progress of the Abortionist Non-Doctor Bill, and attending Archbishop Blair’s participation in the consecration at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford.

What struck me most was Archbishop Blair’s homily, which you can view here beginning at 37:35. No other homily by Archbishop Blair, in his nine years as the archbishop of Hartford, has moved me more. As others at the Register have written, it is now up to the rest of us to do our part. 

And if we do our part, something new — something big — will happen. The Connecticut March for Life was the temporal focus for it last week. The consecration was the spiritual focus.

The Mother of God, through her Divine Son, will crush the head of the serpent. Even in Connecticut.

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A crowd of 2,000 gathers March 23 for the Connecticut March for Life on the steps of the state Capitol in Hartford.(Photo: Tom Wehner)

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Participants in the March 23 Connecticut March for Life display signs at the state Capitol in Hartford.(Photo: Tom Wehner)