JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — For many of the more than 2,500 people joining the 13th Midwest March for Life, the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn its 1973 decision that legalized abortion was on their minds.
Hearing from several speakers, including pro-life activists and Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City, the crowd gathered in the Rotunda of the Missouri State Capitol was resolute in their purpose: ending abortion.
“If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade as we have been praying and working for, or it greatly expands the limitations on abortion that can be legally enforced, abortion will be debated again in every state legislature, guaranteed,” Bishop McKnight told marchers April 20.
On May 2, a leaked draft opinion signaling that the majority of Supreme Court justices seem set to overturn Roe v. Wade was published.A May 3 statement by the Supreme Court verified that the draft opinion reported on “is authentic” but that it “does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.”
To advance the culture of life, Bishop McKnight said, people must be willing to “make the case for life ourselves” and in lobbying efforts.
“We must be a people unafraid to stand up for the weakest among us. We must support the dignity of all human life and never tire of the demands of what it means to be pro-life,” he said.
Most of the daylong event’s festivities were moved inside because of rain, although the march did take place through the streets of the capital.
Father Anthony Viviano, moderator for pro-life ministries in the Jefferson City Diocese, opened the march with prayer, asking God to “enkindle an undying passion for the mission for which we gather this day.”
“Father,” he prayed, “we gather as protectors for ‘the least of yours,’ those most precious to You in their complete and total innocence. We come before You, Lord, as ‘poor beggars,’ seeking the courage, the resilience and a warrior’s spirit to protect the unborn.”
He was followed by several speakers and award presentations.
Bridget Van Means, president of ThriVe St. Louis, a women’s health care center, gave the Patriot for Life Award to state Republican state Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman for her efforts in the legislature to end abortion.
“I don’t know why we’re still fighting this 50 years later, but our time is not God’s time, and He calls us not to be successful but to be faithful,” Coleman said.
Van Means also was honored, receiving the Vision Champion for Life Award from Missouri Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe.
“It is essential that we continue to make our voice heard,” Van Means said in accepting the award.
Keynote speaker Abby Johnson, a pro-life activist who previously managed a Planned Parenthood facility, emphasized the importance of not just saving babies’ lives but saving souls.
That’s why she founded And Then There Were None, an organization that helps people who are seeking to transition from employment in which they are participating in abortion.
After marching through Jefferson City, young participants returned to the state capitol building to learn about how to defend the cause for life.
Youth activist Hope Miller said the goal cannot be to change another person’s mind with one discussion.
“Your goal must be to plant a seed that someone else will help grow,” she said.
Reagan Barklage, national field team director for Students for Life America, told the marchers it is also important to compassionately explain the abortion procedure.
“Argue the humanity of the human baby,” she said.
“Read, learn, speak intelligently, have conversations, work to change hearts,” she added. “Nobody has all the answers, and that’s OK. But never be afraid to get involved and speak up.”
Pro-life advocacy groups plan next steps after abortion opinion leak
Catholic News Service
The online news site Politico published a report late May 2 from a leaked draft opinion signaling that the majority of Supreme Court justices seem set to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 legal decision that legalized abortion in the country.
A May 3 statement by the Supreme Court verified that the draft opinion reported on “is authentic” but that it “does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.”
Chief Justice John Roberts, in his own statement, emphasized the significance of the leaked document, which he said was a “singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the Court and the community of public servants who work here.”
After the publication, pro-life groups reacted positively, but tempered reactions with a wait-and-see approach and called for continued advocacy.
San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone tweeted: “Tonight I am thinking of all the years of hard work by pro-life people of all faiths and none. Years and years of patient advocacy, help for unwed moms, political engagement and more.”
On May 3, Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis said in a statement that he will “comment when the Supreme Court releases its official ruling. No matter the court’s decision, the Catholic Church will continue to work toward building a culture of life and supporting women and their children,” he said.
National Right to Life, an advocacy group that has long fought against abortion, similarly said it “agrees with the statement of Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, who said, ‘We will let the Supreme Court speak for itself and wait for the Court’s official opinion.’”
One thing many groups said they were not happy with was that the opinion was leaked to a news outlet. Dennis Poust, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference, said the leak was a breach of trust and “an attack on the integrity of the Judicial Branch of government.”
“When our highest court cannot operate free of political interference or intimidation, it serves as a stark example that nothing is sacred anymore. While we fervently pray for legal protections of unborn children, we will not dignify the goals of the leaker by commenting on the contents of the draft document.”
The California Catholic Conference said in a May 3 statement that the leak of the opinion draft “triggered the governor and California legislative leadership to announce its intent to create a California constitutional amendment to protect the right to abortion. This will destroy lives, families and significantly limit the ability of the Catholic Church in California to protect the unborn.”
Anna Visser, director of communications and education for Right to Life Michigan, noted that the work of pro-life advocacy goes beyond abortion.
“As a pro-life organization, we have to protect the vulnerable, the elderly, the disabled, the unborn,” she said, adding that the focus is “on the marginalized and those discriminated against.”