Love Saves Lives: Youth, Families, Women Converge on D.C. for 45th Annual March for Life
WASHINGTON — Pro-life advocates have sat in the shadow of the U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous 1973 Roe v. Wade decision for 45 years. However, to the hundreds of thousands of pro-life advocates, including Knights of Columbus and their families, gathered at this year’s national March for Life in Washington, D.C., the last four decades have offered an irreplaceable opportunity to demonstrate their perseverance, love and commitment to the defense of all human life.
The Friday, Jan. 19 event began with a rally sponsored by the March for Life Education and Defense Fund under the theme “Love Saves Lives.”
The thousands of attendees from various political parties, creeds, ethnicities, ages and backgrounds reflect the diversity of the current pro-life movement, which was essentially born from grassroots efforts in the 1970s. Today, pro-lifers remain fully convicted that every single unborn child should be afforded the dignity and protection due all human life, from conception until natural death.
President Donald Trump addressed the rally via a live-stream video from the White House Rose Garden. Introducing the president, Vice President Mike Pence shared, “Forty-five years ago the Supreme Court turned its back on the inalienable right to life, but in that moment, our movement began. A movement that continues to win hearts and minds.”
Standing with young marchers and others — including Deputy Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly; his wife, Vanessa; and their children — the president shared that he was “really proud” to be with pro-lifers on the day. “Because of you, tens of thousands of Americans have been born and reached their full God-given potential.”
“You come from many backgrounds, many places, but you all come for one beautiful cause: to build a society where life is celebrated, protected and cherished. The March for Life is a movement born out of love. … And you love every child — born and unborn — because you believe that every life is sacred, that every child is a precious gift from God.”
Commenting on the U.S. law permitting abortions up to the ninth month of pregnancy, Trump declared, “It is wrong. It has to change.”
Back at the National Mall, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) shared, “It is so exciting to see so many young people here today. Your energy is so infectious.”
Ryan, who is a member of Knights of Columbus Father Gilbert Carlton Council 9360 in Janesville, Wis., explained that the presence of the youth “tells us that this is a movement that is on the rise. You know why the pro-life movement is on the rise? Because truth is on our side. Life begins at conception. Do you know why the pro-life movement is on the rise? Because science is on our side. Most importantly, the pro-life movement is on the rise because we have love on our side.”
Explaining that pro-life representatives are working to make their time in Congress its own march for life, he announced, “Just a few minutes ago today, we passed the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.”
The act amends the federal criminal code so that any health care practitioner who is present when a child is born alive following an abortion or attempted abortion must take life-saving measures and admit that child to a hospital.
Also at the rally were Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund; NFL/MLB star Tim Tebow’s mother, Pam Tebow; former NFL player Matt Birk; Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Chris Smith (R-NJ) and other U.S. representatives; and Sister Bethany Madonna of the Sisters for Life.
Joining these greater known public figures was Joseph Basalla, a member of The Catholic University of America Council 9542 who led the rally with the Pledge of Allegiance, and 14-year-old McKenna Donohue, a choir singer from Buzzards Bay, Mass., who sang the national anthem at the opening of this year’s march.
“I think it’s a great way to show my support and my family’s support of pro-life,” she shared.
McKenna’s parents and three siblings also lent their cheers to the crowd. Her father, Sean, a member of Knights of Columbus Bishop D. F. Feehan 2911, explained that his family has “strong feelings about pro-life and about the message that the march represents.” He continued, “It just means a lot that we can be a part of the March for Life going forward. Even if it’s just a small part in it.”
Like the Donohues, other families and young people came to the March to represent the generations of Americans who hope to protect the children of the future. From Waterbury, Conn., birthplace of our founder Father Michael McGivney, came more than 80 men, women and children from a Connecticut- and Massachusetts-based homeschooling group who attend the March together each year. Charlie Mihaliak, a Knight and member of the group, said that “the energy is palpable” at the march. Being at the march, he continued, you become a part of a movement “that really means something, something real. Something that as a person you need to do.”
Others came from closer distances. Ryan Budd, a Third Degree Knight of St. Rita Council 14664 in Emmitsburg, Md., and a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Hartford, traveled from Mount St. Mary’s in Maryland.
“It’s amazing to see the joy here. Love is joyful,” Budd shared.
After the rally, the families joined the marching crowd, which reached tens of thousands, according to EWTN, which was reporting live from the event. Together, they traveled the march’s nearly two-mile route from the National Mall to the Supreme Court building, passing the U.S. Capitol amid a sea of pro-life signs and banners, including the more than 20,000 Knights of Columbus “Defend Life” and “Choose Life” signs distributed by the D.C. State Council.
Their attendance supports the recent Marist Poll commissioned by the Knights of Columbus in 2017, which shows that advocacy against abortion-on-demand is favored by the majority of Americans, including those who identify as pro-choice. According to the poll, 56 percent of pro-choice Americans oppose abortion after 20 weeks. A shockingly high 60 percent of pro-choice Americans also want significant restrictions on abortion.
“It is hardly surprising that after 50 million abortions in this country, an overwhelming majority of the American people want substantial limits,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “This survey shows clearly that the pro-choice label can no longer be assumed to mean support for abortion on demand. Nor can abortion be thought of as a partisan issue, since majorities of Democrats, Independents and Republicans all agree that it should be substantially restricted.”
Of those polled, 52 percent say having an abortion is more likely to cause a woman harm than good. This includes 1 in 4 who consider themselves pro-choice.
As Deputy Supreme Patrick Kelly noted about the attendees of this year’s march, “We are part of a bipartisan majority who recognize that unrestricted abortion is not good for mothers, not good for children and not good for our country.”
“We can find a better way than abortion,” said Supreme Knight Anderson. “We can give hope to every woman and every child. Today, I see thousands of helping hands ready to make this hope a reality, and I know there are millions more willing to give. Together we can bring change.”