While in Canada our national March for Life isn't until May, in the United States thousands of Americans gathered yesterday in Washington for their annual March. Catholic News Service
files this report from Washington.
For more insight into Washington's March for Life, see some of the news briefs compiled from Catholic News Service
Fall elections re-energized pro-life movement, lawmakers, Cantor says
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia said that after being out of power on Capitol Hill for the past couple of years, pro-life supporters in Congress and across the nation have been re-energized since last November's elections brought in "the biggest pro-life freshman class in memory. The tide has turned," Cantor said in remarks at the March for Life rally on the National Mall, held Jan. 24 to mark the 38th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. Jan. 22 was the official anniversary date, but the March for Life was organized for the following Monday to allow participants to visit their representatives on the Hill after a noon rally and a march along Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court. Members of the House pledge to institute a government-wide ban on the use of federal funds for abortion, said Cantor. He acknowledged that any pro-life legislation will face an uphill battle in the Senate and with President Barack Obama, a supporter of keeping abortion legal, but "the people's House will stand unapologetically for life." After a performance by the Sounds of Liberty from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., and the playing of the national anthem, Nellie Gray welcomed the crowd, thanking them for gathering in "this beautiful weather." It was sunny but cold, hovering somewhere in the mid-20s, and marchers were bundled up against the cold.
Women 'hungry for truth' about abortion, says head of pregnancy center
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Laura Strietmann, the director of a Cincinnati crisis pregnancy center, calls abortion "the issue that is shaping our country," and said the challenge for pro-lifers is to get everyone "to respect life again." In her work, she hears the stories of women's pain and sees pregnant women in need who "are hungry for the truth about abortion," she said. "When they come in the door, we need to love them and tell them the truth," that abortion is taking a life, she added. Strietmann, a member of St. Rose Parish in Cincinnati who is enrolled in a lay pastoral program at the archdiocesan seminary, believes no woman really wants to have an abortion but feels she has no other choice. She spoke to Catholic News Service as she headed toward the March for Life rally site on the National Mall, where thousands of pro-lifers were gathering to mark the 38th year since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down Roe v. Wade legalizing abortion. Bundled up against the cold, with the temperature hovering in the mid-20s, people streamed toward the rally site from various points, carrying all manner of signs, many of them homemade. Among the messages were: "Choose life: Your mother did," "Unborn babies feel pain," Face it: Abortion kills a person," "I regret lost fatherhood" and "Defund Planned Parenthood."
Bishop likens March for Life participants to pilgrims
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., likened people coming to Washington to take part in the annual March for Life to pilgrims. And in that effort, they are linked to "the most blessed of all pilgrims -- the Blessed Virgin Mary," Bishop Lori said in his homily at a Jan. 24 Mass that concluded an overnight National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. "Our journey is not necessarily an easy one," Bishop Lori said. "We got up earlier than we ever thought imaginable to get on a plane to be here" or "had to be cooped up for hours in bus rides" for the march, which is held each year to protest the 1973 Supreme Court decision that permitted abortion virtually on demand. But Mary's pilgrimage to see her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist, "was not easy," he noted. "She didn't have buses or roads or fast-food franchises. She made her way along narrow paths or mountain roads upon which she walked." Now, Bishop Lori said, "Mary joins us in this pilgrimage dedicated to the cause of life ... from the moment of conception until natural death." The Mass texts and readings were from the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas. Bishop Lori said some march participants may feel downhearted because, after so many years, "abortion remains the law of the land" and "new threats (to life) are on the horizon," he said.
Young people lauded for pro-life efforts as shrine vigil begins
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Sitting on the floor in a side chapel in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Lillian Zhao knew that what she was part of was unlike anything she had ever seen in her native China. Zhao, a sophomore international student from China attending Fordham University in New York, was among thousands of people, most of them Catholic, jammed into the massive church. They, like Zhao, had gathered the evening of Jan. 23 to pray for an end to abortion. The Mass opening the traditional overnight National Prayer Vigil for Life in the basilica's crypt was minutes away and Zhao was taking mental notes. She said she expected the next day's March for Life to the Supreme Court to call for an end to legalized abortion would be just as energizing. "This is my first March for Life," she said. "I'm very pro-life. I'm against abortion. I don't think it's a good idea," added the young student who is considering becoming a Catholic. "In China, the abortion situation is getting worse. I want to learn more about what Americans are doing to stop abortion." Zhao said she found the mix of religion and political activity an interesting combination. It was something she said she hoped to share with friends and family back home, hoping to inspire them to begin to work to end legalized abortion in China. "We need more brave people (in China)," she said. "If we don't have brave people, you can't make changes."
In addition to Washington, there was a walk in San Francisco too:
More than 40,000 rally at annual pro-life walk on West Coast
SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) -- More than 40,000 people crowded San Francisco's waterfront boulevard for the seventh annual Walk for Life West Coast on the 38th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. "We're here to break the chains of the culture of death," walk co-founder Dolores Meehan told the morning rally Jan. 22, before the 2.5-mile walk along the Embarcadero to Marina Green near the Golden Gate Bridge. "It's awesome to see all of you packed out there," she told the record-breaking crowd. Speaker Abby Johnson, 30, who walked away from her job as a director of a Texas Planned Parenthood clinic in 2009 after assisting with an ultrasound-guided abortion, told the young people in the crowd, "You are the new generation of pro-lifers and let me tell you something friends, Planned Parenthood and the pro-choice movement, they are shaking in their boots. "They are terrified because there are so many more pro-life young adults than pro-choice young adults," Johnson said. "You know why? Because it makes sense to be pro-life. It doesn't make sense to be pro-choice. ... Technology doesn't back it up. You guys 30 years of age and younger, you guys, you're the movement. You're the next generation. This is our time; make it count."
Photos: CNS/Peter Lockley