Power Shown in Rallies Across America
For 35 years, pro-lifers around nation have gathered each January to call for an end to legal abortion and for a new culture of life to take hold in America. This year rallies from Maine to Hawaii showed that the pro-life movement is stronger, younger, and more determined than ever.
Memorializing each of the years since Roe v. Wade, pro-lifers at the “Hands around the Capitol” event in Augusta, Maine, January 12 heard the Capitol bell ring 35 times, while 35 roses were placed at the bell’s base. The participants circled the capitol building in silent memory of the unborn.
In this important presidential election year, pro-lifers at the March for Life in Little Rock, Arkansas, January 20 received information about candidates’ positions on life issues as well as voter registration forms and petitions urging both political parties to embrace policies respecting life. Despite freezing weather, a crowd 5,000 strong marched through the streets to the state Capitol.
This year’s participants at the Prayer for Life Rally at the state capitol in Des Moines January 22 were ready to make the right to life a major issue in the campaign. “Pro-lifers were fired-up at the Iowa caucuses,” said Kim Lehman, president of Iowa Right to Life, “and we are hoping to build on that momentum.”
State legislative initiatives were announced to the 2,000 to 3,000 people attending the St. Paul, Minnesota, March for Life January 22. Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life strongly opposes a proposal to allow embryo-destructive research, and supports bills that would ban taxpayer funding of abortion and inhumane saline abortions. “Even though saline abortion causes horrific suffering for unborn babies and poses great dangers to women’s health, it is still legal in Minnesota,” communications director Bill Poehler told the crowd. “It is long past time to outlaw this grotesque abortion procedure.”
In Nebraska, participants at the Walk for Life in Lincoln January 26 received literature about a bill that would ban human cloning in the state, which is Nebraska Right to Life’s top legislative priority. They also heard inspiring words from keynote speaker David Ring, who has cerebral palsy but has triumphed with self-respect and an acceptance of his physical challenges.
Vermont pro-lifers rejoiced in the defeat of a euthanasia bill, while announcing new proposals for parental involvement and the use of ultrasound before abortions. They gathered in Montpelier January 19, and also heard from Angela Franks about Planned Parenthood and the eugenics movement.
A proposed euthanasia bill was the focus of opposition at the March for Life in Olympia, Washington, January 22. Upwards of 5,000 people turned out to show their support for the right to life for all Americans.
While most marchers faced cold weather, pro-lifers in Columbia, South Carolina, joined the Stand Up for Life March and Rally January 12 in unseasonably warm temperatures. They heard from former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, known for trying to hold abortion mills accountable to the law.
Alaska pro-lifers gathered in Juneau January 22 on the steps of the state Capitol. They were heartened by recent statistics that showed that abortion rates are on the decline. The lower numbers are “because of pro-life warriors like you,” said Rep. Bob Lynn.
Declines in abortion rates also brought cheers at local rallies. In Daytona Beach, Florida, pro-lifers heard that the number of abortions in Volusia County dropped from 2,003 in 2000 to 1,280 in 2006. “God hears our prayers,” Volusia County Right to Life Tim Gallien asserted. “Seven hundred twenty-three—that’s a lot of lives, lots of babies saved.” Other cities in Florida hosted pro-life rallies, including Fort Lauderdale and Naples.
Large pro-life events provide the opportunity to help many women facing crisis pregnancies. Participants at the rally in Phoenix, Arizona, January 20 brought disposable diapers, formula, and wipes for “Arizona’s Largest Diaper Drive.” Tucson was also the site of a March for Life January 19.
Pro-lifers in other states held memorials for the innocent lives lost to abortion. The 21st annual Memorial Service for the Unborn in Montgomery, Alabama, provided an opportunity for people to grieve for the 50 million unborn babies who were not given a chance for life. It was held January 20 at the gravesite of 18 aborted babies. Alabamans also marched for life in Birmingham January 19.
Californians spent a day filled with prayer, education, and community as they rallied for life January 22 in Sacramento. Beginning with a prayer breakfast, the day continued with pro-life workshops inside the Capitol and a rally on the West Steps.
Prayer was central at the Interfaith Assembly for Life in Boston, Massachusetts, January 13. Participants also honored the late pro-life champion Henry Hyde. “He stood out from the rest of our public figures because there was a wholeness of his being,” said Mildred Jefferson, president of Massachusetts Citizens for Life.
A prayer breakfast began the day for pro-lifers in Raleigh, North Carolina, January 12, followed by a rally and march. The marchers went past the state Supreme Court building and the capitol carrying signs and banners representing churches, youth groups, and schools.
“It’s a sad day,” North Carolina RTL President Barbara S. Holt said. “Abortion doesn’t just kill the unborn child, it hurts the mother, the father, the extended family.”
In Texas, pro-lifers in Austin January 26 heard stirring words from Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Pro-life gatherings also occurred in state capitals in Honolulu, Hawaii, January 22; Boise, Idaho, January 19; Indianapolis, Indiana, January 27; Topeka, Kansas, January 22; Santa Fe, New Mexico, January 22; Bismarck, North Dakota, January 20; Atlanta, Georgia, January 22; Salem, Oregon, January 20; Pierre, South Dakota, January 22; Nashville, Tennessee, January 20; and Cheyenne, Wyoming, January 19.
While pro-lifers in Kentucky gathered in their state capital in Frankfort February 7, they were a powerful presence in Washington, D.C., January 22 at their Congressional Breakfast before the national March for Life. U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell encouraged the attendees to keep fighting for pro-life victories in November. “It makes a difference who wins elections,” McConnell said at the breakfast. “It makes an awful lot of difference who appoints judges—an awful lot of difference.”
Ohio pro-lifers also combined a breakfast with the march in the nation’s capital. Other states represented among the huge March for Life crowd included Illinois, Maryland, Connecticut, Missouri, New York, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Active local chapters brought the fight for life to cities and small towns in many states. Pro-lifers attended local events throughout Louisiana, in New Orleans, West Monroe, Lafayette, Opelousas, Ville Platte, New Iberia, and St. Tammany.
Michigan pro-life chapters commemorated the anniversary in many ways, including a rally in the state capital Lansing January 22; a motorcade, religious services, and candlelight vigil in Flint; memorial services in Alpena, AuGres, Bay City, Rudyard, St. Johns, Ionia, Monroe, Highland, Saginaw, and Owosso; and marches in Grand Rapids, Hale, Holland, Ludington, Trenton, Wyandotte, and Cadillac.
Reno, Nevada, was the location for the Stand for Life Weekend 2008. Former NRLC president Dr. John C. Willke was honored at Friends for Life Dinner January 11, while Norma McCorvey addressed pro-lifers the next day at the Choose Life Rally followed by a Life Chain.
Rhode Island Governor Don Carcieri and his wife, Sue, were enthusiastic participants at a rally in Providence January 30. Echoing the sentiments of pro-lifers across the country, the governor told the crowd, “The most important thing that we as a nation can protect is life.”