Pro-life advocates gathered with renewed hope this year for the 49th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., their spirits buoyed by the significant challenge to Roe v. Wade now before the U.S. Supreme Court. Knights of Colum- bus from across the country, including Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly and other Supreme Officers, were among the tens of thousands of people participating in demonstration on Jan. 21.
Darren Tsang, a member of Georgetown University Council 6375 in Washington, led the Pledge of Allegiance to kick off the March for Life Rally on the National Mall.
“There is strength in community, and we have a bigger voice as we come together, especially in the nation’s capital, to advocate for unborn,” said Tsang, who marched with several dozen college Knights from different universities. “It’s so invigorating to see all these people, and to be a voice for those who can’t be a voice for themselves.”
Following the rally, the massive crowd peacefully marched down Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court building, where oral arguments were heard in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization less than two months earlier. The case is considered the most serious challenge to Roe — the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationally — in several decades.
“There’s an energy, a hopefulness in the crowd, because we know that this year is a crucial year for life,” Supreme Knight Kelly said. “We hope and pray for a good decision in the Dobbs case. We hope and pray for an end to Roe, and we hope and pray that our laws will protect children.”
A new Knights of Columbus/Marist Poll, the supreme knight added, shows that a majority of Americans reject the central holding of Roe.
Knights of Columbus volunteering at the march or attending with their families, councils and parishes, expressed a sense of optimism about the legal fight against abortion.
Joe Knight, grand knight of St. Louis the King Council 11898 in Clarksville, Md., has served as a marshal at the event for years, alongside dozens of other Knights from Virginia, Maryland and D.C. He hopes he won’t need to again. “Wouldn’t it be great,” he asked, “if we didn’t need to have a 50th march?”
Yet even if Roe v. Wade is overruled, in whole or in part, the need to work for laws that protect the unborn will remain. Advocacy at the state level would become crucial, which is one reason the March for Life Education and Defense Fund is expanding its state march program.
Also vital is the continued need to build a culture of life, Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore reminded attendees of the opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life on Jan. 20.
Archbishop Lori, who serves as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, celebrated the Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and paid tribute in his homily to the many ministries that help expectant mothers choose life and support them and their children after birth.
If Roe is overturned, the supreme chaplain said, “we must redouble our efforts to accompany women and couples who are facing unexpected or difficult pregnancies, offering them loving and compassionate care.”
The Knights of Columbus is prepared to answer that call, said Supreme Knight Kelly, noting the myriad ways that Knights provide material and volunteer support to pregnancy resource centers — especially through the Order’s Ultrasound Initiative (see sidebar).
“Blessed Michael McGivney founded the Knights to care for the family, to care for widows and orphans,” the supreme knight said. “Today, we come to expectant mothers and their unborn children with love and support to help them make a life-affirming choice.”
THE KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS Ultrasound Initiative surpassed a major milestone on Jan. 19, placing its 1,500th ultrasound machine through its signature program in support of pregnancy centers.
With Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly and other K of C leaders in attendance, Bishop James Checchio of Metuchen blessed the milestone machine at First Choice Women’s Resource Center in New Brunswick, N.J. The machine was funded by Knights in the Metuchen Diocese Chapter and the New Jersey State Council with a matching grant from the Order’s Culture of Life Fund.
“Knights of Columbus believe in the dignity and worth of every human life,” said Supreme Knight Kelly at the event. “We work tirelessly, through prayer and action, to support mothers and their children, both unborn and born.”
Since the Ultrasound Initiative began in January 2009, Knights have donated ultrasound machines valued at more than $72 million to pregnancy resource centers in all 50 U.S. states — including more than 100 machines in Florida, California and Texas. The rate of donations has accelerated in recent years, together with the number of medically certified pro-life pregnancy centers and requests, especially as centers expand and machines need updating.
The 1,500th ultrasound machine was the eighth donation to First Choice Women’s Resource Center, which has five locations in New Jersey. The organization requested a machine through the Ultrasound Initiative as it prepared to open its newest center near Rutgers University in November 2021.
“We want to give a woman all of the information she needs to make an informed decision. Offering an ultrasound is an important part of that process,” explained Aimee Huber, executive director of First Choice, which also offers counseling and material support to expectant mothers.
“Women can see the heart beating, can see the formation of the baby,” added Huber, noting that an ultrasound machine helps women perceive the life of their unborn children. “It has a profound impact on the decision they make. I can’t really imagine our ministry without it.”
ACCORDING TO a recent Knights of Columbus/Marist Poll, released Jan. 20, more than 3 in 5 of Americans disagree with the central holding of Roe v. Wade. While Roe asserted a constitutional right to abortion, the survey showed that 61% of Americans believe either that abortion should be illegal or that the issue should be determined by each state.
Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly hailed the finding, which comes as the U.S. Supreme Court weighs Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
“Roe v. Wade was wrong when it was decided, and its legacy is the tragic destruction of more than 60 million unborn lives and countless wounded women,” the supreme knight said. “The time has come for America to turn the page on Roe.”
The survey, conducted by the Marist Poll and commissioned annually by the Knights of Columbus for more than a decade, has consistently shown that a majority of Americans support substantial restrictions on abortions. The most recent poll finds that 71% of Americans oppose legalizing abortion after three months except in cases of rape or incest, or to save the life of the mother. Only 17% think that abortion should be available at any time during a woman’s pregnancy.
The latest poll also found that 3 in 4 Americans say that doctors, nurses or other health care professionals who have religious objections to abortion should not be legally required to perform them. An even larger majority — 81% — believe laws can protect both the mother and her unborn child.
On the issue of taxpayer funding of abortion, 54% oppose using tax dollars to pay for abortion in the United States, while 73% — including 59% who identify as pro-choice — oppose using tax dollars to fund abortions abroad.
“This is especially relevant as the bipartisan Hyde Amendment prohibiting taxpayer funding of abortion is in danger,” said Supreme Knight Kelly. “As a supermajority of Americans believe laws can protect both women and the unborn, the Knights of Columbus will continue to stand with them in supporting the dignity and worth of every human life.”
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