Natalie, Monica and Erin McDonough have traditionally participated in the annual Roe vs. Wade memorial Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. The sisters also have attended the monthly Helpers of God’s Precious Infants Mass, which traditionally includes a Rosary procession to the nearby Planned Parenthood.
This year’s observance of the Jan. 22 Roe vs. Wade anniversary looks different in some ways — with with numerous events going virtual, including the March for Life rally in Washington, D.C. Other traditions — including the memorial Mass at the cathedral basilica — went on as planned.
“The pro-life cause has been a huge part of our lives growing up,” said Natalie McDonough, adding that their resolve to see an end to abortion remains.
In 48 years since the 1973 decision, more than 60 million lives have been ended by abortion, Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski noted at the annual memorial Mass Jan. 16. “It is an affront to the great privilege that has been bestowed on our human race by God to be able to procreate human life in our world,” he said. “Each life is indeed precious, created in the image and likeness of God, adding his or her own gifts, talents and abilities to enrich our human race.”
Abortions taking place in the state of Missouri continue on a decline. Missouri was among states with the lowest abortion rates and ratios, according to data released from the Centers for Disease Control late last year. In Missouri in 2018, the abortion rate was 2.5 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44 years. Its abortion ratio was 40 abortions per 1,000 live births. Missouri is one of six states that have only one abortion clinic. Provisional information for 2019 from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services also showed that Missouri resident abortions decreased 23.9 percent, with 4,660 Missouri residents obtaining abortions, compared to 6,125 in 2018.
Most recently, the Missouri health department reported that 39 surgical abortions took place in Missouri from Jan. 1 through Nov. 15, 2020. There were 1,471 abortions in Missouri in 2019.
The archdiocesan Respect Life Apostolate recently issued a statement responding to reports circulating that Missouri may be the first “abortion-free” or “abortion clinic-free” state. However, the apostolate noted that the last freestanding abortion facility in the state, Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, is still a legally licensed abortion facility by the state of Missouri, with many Missouri women being referred to the Planned Parenthood clinic in Fairview Heights, Illinois. Abortions also continue to be offered by at least one health care system in the St. Louis area.
“The Respect Life Apostolate encourages the pro-life community to stay focused on — and be encouraged by — the known documented successes instead of perceived ones,” according to the statement. “To reach Missouri women with the help they need to choose life, the RLA encourages the employment of effective existing strategies and the development of new ones based on sound research and results. The Apostolate invites the pro-life community to continue to pray and work together for the day when all unborn children are truly protected by law and welcomed into life.”
The Missouri legislature continues to propose abortion-related measures. Several key measures being considered in this session include:
• “Safeguarding All Children’s Remains to Ensure Dignity Act,” sponsored by Rep. Hannah Kelly, R-Mountain Grove, would require the remains of an aborted child to be buried or cremated. A doctor would be required to give the woman information on her choices for the final disposition of the remains. The bill also prohibits the use of fetal remains from an abortion to be used for any reason except for diagnosing anomalies, paternity or other law enforcement purposes. The bill is HB 431. A companion bill in the Senate in SB 101.
• Another measure to be considered is the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” sponsored by Sen. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield. The bill, SB 168, would give a child born alive during or after an abortion or attempted abortion the same rights and privileges as any other person, citizen, and resident of Missouri, including any other live-born child. A similar measure in the House is HB 155.
• State funds would be prohibited from being used for abortions under a bill sponsored by Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon. The bill is HB 635. A constitutional amendment has been proposed in the Missouri Senate, SJR 18.
Heavy security in D.C., ongoing pandemic mean March for Life will be virtual
WASHINGTON — For the first time since 1974, when it first began, the message of the national March for Life to participants is: Stay home.
Like the satellite events connected to the annual National Mall rally and march to the Supreme Court, including the Rose Dinner, a youth conference and the Mass for Life, the rest of it will be online only Jan. 29.
March organizers had already hired a production company to make a livestreamed event possible in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, and to enforce mask wearing and social distancing.
But the plan was still to have as large a live rally as could be arranged. Many of the bus caravans from the Midwest, long a staple of the event, were canceled last fall as a result of the pandemic, and the assault on the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6 and threats of subsequent violence by domestic terrorist groups, as reported by the FBI, made security impossible.
“The protection of all of those who participate in the annual March, as well as the many law enforcement personnel and others who work tirelessly each year to ensure a safe and peaceful event, is a top priority of the March for Life,” Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Defense and Education Fund, said in a statement issued late Jan. 15.
“In light of the fact that we are in the midst of a pandemic which may be peaking, and in view of the heightened pressures that law enforcement officers and others are currently facing in and around the Capitol … the annual rally will take place virtually and we are asking all participants to stay home and to join the march virtually.”
There will still be a small in-person presence. “We will invite a small group of pro-life leaders from across the country to march this year,” Mancini said.
“These leaders will represent pro-life Americans everywhere who, each in their own unique ways, work to make abortion unthinkable and build a culture where every human life is valued and protected,” she added.
Marches in recent years had drawn at least 100,000 participants, and last year’s event, when President Donald Trump spoke at the rally, was believed to have had the largest attendance in its history. The smallest March for Life previous to this was in 1987 during a snowstorm, and drew an estimated 5,000.
— Catholic News Service