A People of Life
Knights brave a winter storm to join thousands for the 2016 March for Life
Tens of thousands of pro-life supporters braved a fierce winter storm, Jan. 22, to protest legalized abortion and to bear witness to the sanctity of every human life during the 43rd annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. While the number of marchers was lower than in previous years, the attendance remained impressive considering that forecasters had predicted a blizzard to bring snow totals of up to 30 inches in the nation’s capital.
At this year’s march, which had the theme, “Pro-Life and Pro-Woman Go Hand-in-Hand,” many Knights carried council banners and flags, but these were just one indication of the Order’s presence. Scattered among the crowd were thousands of K of C “Defend Life” signs, which the D.C. State Council has distributed to marchers for several years.
At the rally held on the grounds of the Washington Monument prior to the march, several speakers addressed the crowd, including pro-life businesswoman Carly Fiorina, journalist Sue Ellen Browder, National Football League veteran Matt Birk, Focus on the Family President Jim Daly, and pro-life members of Congress, Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey.
Patrick Kelly, Knights of Columbus vice president for public policy and chairman of the board of the March for Life, began the rally by commending the marchers for traveling to the capital despite “a major storm barreling down on Washington, D.C.” He said each one has a key role to play in what he referred to as “the most important human rights movement of the 21st century.”
He also reminded the marchers of the truth that “to be pro-life is to be pro-woman and to be pro-woman is to be pro-life.” Opponents of the pro-life movement, he said, “insist on dividing and bullying those who disagree with them by speaking of a fictional war on women. Our movement, the movement to protect human life, is different. It is built by you, the grass roots.”
He continued, “The March for Life has a simple message about pregnant moms and their babies. We love them both.” Citing Marist polls that indicate a shift in public opinion about abortion in the U.S., he concluded, “Something is changing in America. And it is this: being pro-life and pro-woman is now the new normal.”
March for Life President Jeanne Mancini said the impending blizzard was not enough to stop pro-lifers. “Thank you for being here despite the weather forecast. The world may think that we’re a little bit crazy to be here on a day like today, but those of us standing here know that there is no sacrifice too great to fight the human rights abuse of abortion,” said Mancini.
Rousing the crowd, Mancini continued, “Our theme this year as you know is Pro-Life and Pro-Woman go hand in hand. Why this theme? Why now? First, and most importantly, a woman’s capacity to have a child is an incredible, beautiful and amazing thing. It’s something inherent to women. It’s a miracle, not a liability.”
Following the rally, the pro-lifers protesters marched up Constitution Avenue and past the U.S. Capitol to the Supreme Court. As in past years, a large portion of the marchers were young pro-lifers.
The dedicated participants in this annual pro-life march also reflect the overwhelming percentage of Americans who increasingly support the legal protection of the unborn.
In a new Marist poll commissioned by the Knights of Columbus, 55 percent of Americans say that abortion does more harm than good compared to 30 percent who say that the procedure improves a woman’s life. About the same percentage of women (56 percent) say abortion ultimately does more harm than good, compared to 31% who say otherwise.
Those who identify as pro-life are not the only Americans who overwhelmingly support restrictions on abortion. Americans who call themselves “pro-choice” also support such proposals, with the majority saying they favor several types of restrictions.
More than 6 in 10 Americans (61 percent) support laws that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, except to save the life of the mother. A similar number of Americans (62 percent) of those who describe themselves as pro-choice support the same ban. Six in 10 Americans say abortion is “morally wrong.” One-third of pro-choice Americans agree.
Fifty-one percent of those polled believe professionals and organizations should have the right to opt out of providing abortion services if they have moral objections. Notably, one-third of those who identify as pro-choice would protect the right to opt out. The poll also shows that 50 percent of women think that moral objections should be allowed, against 42 percent who say otherwise.
“The law can protect mother and child alike,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson in a statement when the poll was released. “It is time for a new national conversation on abortion, one that begins with this consensus in favor of restrictions — a consensus that American women and men have already reached.” The Knights of Columbus has long been a supporter of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, which has organized the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., every January since 1974. The Order has also worked to support life through its Ultrasound Initiative, providing matching funds that have allowed councils to place more than 600 ultrasound machines in pregnancy resource centers throughout all 50 states over the past five years.