Milestones in the Crusade for Life

Many milestones in the Crusade for Life are included on the Knights of Columbus web site.

Even before the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the Knights of Columbus was at the forefront of the pro-life movement. By the fall of 1972, the Order had developed a strategy of working with other pro-life groups to oppose abortion. Support for the sanctity of human life in all its stages and opposition to abortion on demand are pledges proudly kept by the Order for more than 30 years.

On this page:

1970s
1980s
1990s
2000s


1973
The Order calls the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision "shocking and unfortunate"; it starts the "Support for Life" campaign.

1974
Delegates to the Supreme Council meeting pass a resolution supporting a constitutional amendment banning abortion.

1975
The Board of Directors approves a $50,000 grant to U.S. bishops’ pro-life efforts.

1976
The Board of Directors approves $10,000 for Canadian bishops’ pro-life efforts and renews $50,000 grant to U.S. bishops.

1977
Supreme Knight Virgil C. Dechant begins "Save That Baby" campaign; billboards, bumper stickers and posters distributed to councils. To this day, the Order continues to print and distribute pro-life literature free of charge.

1978
Knights host a Rosary Rally in conjunction with the March for Life in Washington, D.C. Supreme Officers lead the rosary on Ellipse near White House in preparation for the March.

1979
The Fourth Degree adopts the pro-life cause, noting the patriotic call to protect and defend innocent life. The Order funds the U.S. bishops’ brief before the Supreme Court on whether employers have to pay for employees’ abortions as part of medical coverage.

1980
The Board of Directors approves a grant to WOOMB, a natural family planning program (NFP), and the Supreme Council prints the proceedings from the international conference on NFP for distribution at the World Synod of Bishops in Rome.

1981
The Board of Directors approves funding for the U.S. bishops’ diocesan NFP program. The first Medical-Moral Workshop for bishops is sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. Both programs receive Order’s support to this day.

1982
Knights undertake grassroots activities to enact the Hyde Amendment restricting abortion. Knights and Canadian bishops launch Family-Action-Famille pro-family effort.

1983
President Ronald Reagan’s pro-life speech on the 10th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade is reprinted in Columbia.

1984
"Gift of Life ’ God’s Special Gift" is the Supreme Convention theme. Order doubles annual contributions to U.S. and Canadian bishops’ pro-life campaigns.

1985
The Board of Directors approves a $100,000 grant for American United for Life’s friend-of-the-court brief before the U.S. Supreme Court.

1986
The Crusade for Life membership campaign is launched. Chaircouples are appointed at state and local levels to spearhead right-to-life programs.

1987
North American branch of Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family opens in Washington, D.C.

1988
Mother Teresa visits the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council office in New Haven, Conn.; she calls abortion the "greatest destroyer of love and peace." A friend-of-the-court brief in Webster vs. Reproductive Health Services is submitted.

1989
Canadian bishops receive the Order’s help with defense against assisted suicide in Borowski case.

1990
The U.S. bishops receive $4 million from Order for pro-life education and information campaign, "The Natural Choice is Life." The USCCB’s Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities receives annual funding from Knights of Columbus.

1991
The Order joins efforts to ban the abortion pill from being manufactured and distributed in U.S.

1992
The Knights of Columbus leads the effort to keep the ban on funding for fetal-tissue research using aborted babies.

1993
Knights help U.S. bishops with anti-"Freedom of Choice Act" (FOCA) postcard campaign; additional efforts against FOCA include telegram and letter-writing campaigns. Knights begin erecting memorials to unborn children at urging of Cardinal John O’Connor of New York.

1994
Canadian bishops helped by the Order in Rodriguez assisted-suicide case. Knights protest abortion in failed U.S. health-care plan.

1995
“Proclaim the Gospel of Life” is Supreme Convention theme. Brooklyn Diocese gives Pro-Vita Award to Order for right-to-life efforts. Pope John Paul II celebrates Mass at Aqueduct.

1996
The Knights distributes 2.5 million postcards to members and Catholics to protest partial-birth abortion legislation in the U.S. Congress.

1997
The Knights submits a brief in the right-to-die case before U.S. Supreme Court, joined by the National Catholic Office for Persons with Disabilities. National Legal Center for Medically Dependent and Disabled drafts brief with Knights of Columbus funding.

1998
The Knights decry President Clinton’s veto of a law banning partial-birth abortions. K of C donations to USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities exceed $10 million.

1999
The Order helps to defeat Michigan’s assisted-suicide ballot initiative, tangible proof of growing pro-life sentiment in United States.

2000
The Knights of Columbus files an amicus brief with the Supreme Court on a partial-birth abortion case; the brief by counsel was also signed by then-Supreme Secretary Carl A. Anderson.

2001
Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson addresses several hundred thousand gathered for annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. A resolution is passed at the Supreme Convention proclaiming March 25th, the feast of the Annunciation, the Knights of Columbus Day of the Unborn Child to be observed annually.

2002
The Knights of Columbus initiates the Running of the Silver Rose. Members from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico carry a small sculpted rose from council to council as a show of unity on life issues. Important pro-life act entitled Born Alive Infants Protection Act is signed into law by President Bush.

2003
The Order launches the Culture of Life Legislative Initiative to optimize the effectiveness of councils in building the culture of life through faithful citizenship and civic activity.