March for Life participants make their way to the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington Jan. 29 amid the coronavirus pandemic. CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

March sends a ‘message of solidarity’

  • February 4, 2021

WASHINGTON -- It was the coldest national March for Life in some years, it was the smallest, and it also may be remembered as the bravest.

A little over 200 people, tightly flanked by members of the Knights of Columbus, endured subfreezing temperatures and wind as they sang hymns and trudged a zigzag route with Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, from the Museum of the Bible to the Supreme Court Jan. 29.

Mancini acknowledged “that we’re all symbolically marching, and we’re all in solidarity with each other.”

Before they stepped off, she told the marchers, originally a group of 60, that although this year was a deeply sombre occasion, “let’s be prayerful” and to fulfil the event “in the best way we can.”

Marchers in the live-streamed event included Auxiliary Bishop Joseph L. Coffey of the Archdiocese for the Military Services. Others included former NFL player Benjamin Watson and Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood clinic director who operates the pro-life ministry And Then There Were None.

The march, lasting about 90 minutes, was considerably quieter than the placard- and flag-filled processions of thousands up Constitution Avenue in previous years. And there were no counter protesters.

The 48th annual march in protest of the court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the U.S., already was hampered by COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, and Mancini, announcing a virtual event, told people to stay home and participate in smaller local marches.

But the aftermath of the violent Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building and fears of more violence increased the symbolism of the moment. It was the first street event in Washington since Jan. 6.

In a callback to a former March for Life tradition, Mancini and others in the core group carried single red roses, which, she announced, would “symbolize the profound grief pro-life Americans feel over the deaths of 62 million unborn children through legal abortion.”

They laid those on the sidewalk behind the fenced-off Supreme Court building as marchers broke into the “Ava Maria” and “God Bless America.”

The march came just one day after President Joe Biden rescinded the so-called “Mexico City policy.”

The policy, first announced by President Ronald Reagan during an international conference on population in Mexico City in 1984, blocked U.S. funding for nongovernmental organizations that perform or actively promote abortion as a form of family planning in other nations.

Republican presidents since then have upheld the policy and Democratic presidents have overturned it.

“(It) is antithetical to reason, violates human dignity, and is incompatible with Catholic teaching,” said a statement from the U.S. bishops’ pro-life and international policy committees. “We and our brother bishops strongly oppose this action. We urge the president to use his office for good, prioritizing the most vulnerable, including unborn children.”

Results of the annual Knights of Columbus-sponsored Marist poll on Americans’ opinions on abortion continue to show that “a majority of Americans do not support the sweeping pro-abortion changes to law that are sought by President Biden and the Democrat Congress,” noted Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life.

“Pursuit of this radical pro-abortion agenda shows just how out of touch they are with their constituents,” she said.

On the issue of “using tax dollars to support abortion in other countries,” a majority of respondents — 77 per cent — are opposed, the poll showed. This percentage includes 64 per cent who identify themselves as “pro-choice.”

“U.S. foreign policy — and the foreign entities we fund with billions of dollars in grant money — should consistently affirm, care for and tangibly assist women and children — including unborn baby girls and boys,” Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, who is co-chair of the Congressional Pro-life Caucus, said Jan. 28.

He wrote a letter signed by at least 118 members of Congress calling on Biden to reconsider and reverse his decision on the Mexico City policy.

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