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Pro-life groups felt welcomed by participants in Women’s March

WASHINGTON — After being removed from a list of partner organizations for the Women's March on Washington, members of a pro-life group based in Texas decided they still would take to the streets Jan. 21 to participate in the historic and massive event. And they said it was a good decision.

"Overall, it was an amazing experience," said Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, of New Wave Feminists, one of the groups removed as a march sponsor.

"We were prepared for confrontation and instead were supported by so many women," Herndon-De La Rosa said.

While organizers said the event was to "promote women's equality and defend other marginalized groups," some pro-life groups that wanted to be partners in the march were either removed as official sponsors days before the march — or their application to be a sponsor was ignored.

In an interview before the march, Herndon-De La Rosa said no one contacted her group to give them the news they were taken off a roster of sponsors, but they found out after a flurry of stories about it. The groups And Then There Were None and Students for Life of America also were denied or taken off the Women's March roster. However, many members of those organizations attended the march.

The group posted photos on their Facebook and Instagram accounts of their participation, holding signs that read, "I'm a pro-life feminist."

"They kept coming up and telling us how glad they were that we were there and how, even though they didn't necessarily agree on the abortion issue, they thought it wrong that we were removed as partners," said Herndon-De La Rosa. "It was very cool."

Women like Herndon-De La Rosa marched for a cause. In her group's case, they are concerned about President Donald J. Trump's changing position on abortion and say they wanted him to know they'd be watching what he does on pro-life issues such as abortion, the death penalty and violence.

Others marched to voice disapproval of the new president. Many came from places near and far and after filing past the streets near Washington's most important institutions, they filled the area near the White House where its newest residents have a direct line of view toward the Washington Monument. They were hoping the newly minted president would hear or see them and consider what they had to say. The Washington march was one of several similar events across the country.

Margie Legowski, a parishioner at Washington's Holy Trinity Catholic Church, said she took to the streets "in support of values that I don't see in this administration." Those values include equality for women and also caring about immigrants who need help.

"I want to take a stand. I don't want to be passive about it," she said. "In our faith we're called to solidarity."

That means standing up against wealth inequality and defending the vulnerable, she said. It's a means of building the kingdom of God on earth and she doesn't see that as a priority for the new president.

Sister Kathleen Desautels, 78, who came to Washington from Chicago, said the march was the about the "intersection of all the issues — human rights, anti-racism, sexism, women and Church and society issues, economic issues, poverty, climate change" — and the need to "look at the systems" that create injustice.

"This was a perfect response occasion to support and be a part of it and in one sense one way to resist the new administration," she said. Sister Desautels is a justice promoter for her order, the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary of the Woods, and on the staff of the 8th Day Center for Justice.

"The march was peaceful, beautiful, diverse," added Maria Scharfenberger, from the Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky.. "Thousands of us stood — and stood together, even though we couldn't see or hear what was going on. We still were present as a sign of hope."

She said she wanted to show "solidarity with the most vulnerable." Through her work in Hispanic ministry at a parish and as a member of the local Catholic Worker community called the Casa Latina CW, Scharfenberger said, she is aware of how many people feel vulnerable with Trump as president.

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