‘We are not yet done’: March for Life events held locally, nationally since overturn of Roe v. Wade
February 14, 2023
Students from Saint Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park, Kan., arrive for the 50th annual March for Life in Washington Jan. 20, 2023. (OSV News photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)
WASHINGTON (OSV News) — Tens of thousands of pro-life advocates descended upon the nation’s capital for the 50th March for Life Jan. 20 — the first national march since the overturn of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that initially prompted the annual demonstration.
The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston held a Mass on Jan. 23, Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children.
“Every human life is truly precious,” Daniel Cardinal DiNardo said during his homily at the Mass held at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. But the Roe vs. Wade court decision, which was overturned last year after 50 years of the federal government allowing abortions, “made human beings disposable.”
He said the case was finally overturned with “prayer, action and intelligence,” and continued prayer is needed for the unborn.
Cardinal DiNardo spoke on the Gospel that day of the Beatitudes, especially the blessings of those who are pure of heart and those who work for justice.
“These blessings help us transcend to the luminosity of God shining through every person,” Cardinal DiNardo said.
The Texas Rally for Life in Austin was held on Jan. 21 at the Capitol, and Gov. Greg Abbott was the keynote speaker. Abortion survivor Claire Culwell, and Ryan Bomberger, founder of the Radiance Foundation, who was conceived as a result of sexual assault and placed for adoption, also spoke at the event. The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops (TCCB) was on the host committee, and Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin, Bishop Brendan Cahill of Victoria, and Bishop Michael Sis and Bishop Emeritus Michael Pfeifer of San Angelo were in attendance.
The Southwest March for Life was in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Bishop Peter Baldacchino of Las Cruces and Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso celebrated Mass, followed by a rally and march.
Jennifer Allmon, executive director of the TCCB, said the regional event was a beautiful expression of solidarity in the pro-life movement.
Although abortion is banned in Texas, and we celebrate the thousands of lives saved, the reality is that some women are traveling to our neighbor states where abortion remains legal,” she said. “New Mexico has seen an influx of abortion providers as well since they can no longer operate in Texas. The fight is not over until the humanity of every unborn child in the country and the world is recognized and protected.”
At the U.S. Capitol, Jeanne Mancini, March for Life president, told attendees at a rally prior to the march that “the country and world changed” when Roe was reversed in June 2022. But she said the annual March for Life would continue in Washington until abortion is “unthinkable.”
“While the March began as a response to Roe, we don’t end as a response to Roe being overturned,” Mancini said. “Why? Because we are not yet done.”
The national March for Life first took place in Washington in 1974 in response to the Roe decision legalizing abortion nationwide the previous year. The protest has taken place in Washington each year since, with a smaller-in-scale event during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021.
The 2023 event was the first national March for Life since the high court’s June 2022 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned Roe and returned the matter of regulating or restricting abortion to state legislatures.
Speaking with OSV News at the march, Kristan Hawkins, president of the pro-life group Students for Life of America, said the next front of her organization’s activism will focus on fighting the spread of medication abortion. Hawkins said the pro-life movement should also focus on broadening the social safety net and its remaining goals at the federal level, such as stripping Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest single abortion provider, of taxpayer funds.
“We’re walking and running and chewing gum all at the same time,” she said.
“There is a lot for us to do as a nation, especially raising awareness among its citizens,” Isalyn Aviles Rodríguez, who came to the march from Miami, told OSV News. Rodríguez said she was motivated to march because “the nation needs to know that children are part of God’s plan from conception until natural death.”
As in prior years, the March drew teenage advocates for life as well. Angeline Moro, 14, from Trenton, New Jersey, attended the event to learn how to raise her voice in defense of the most vulnerable.
“We all need to have a chance to live,” Moro said.
At various events leading up to the march, pro-life advocates joined together in prayer and solidarity.
At the Jan. 19 opening Mass for the annual National Prayer Vigil for Life, the night before the march, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, said in his homily that the pro-life movement has “much to celebrate” because Roe v. Wade “is no more.”
But, he added, a “new important phase” for the cause of life “begins now.”
“Our efforts to defend life must be as tireless as ever” not only to change laws but also hearts “with steadfast faith in the grace and power of God to do so,” said Bishop Burbidge, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
The event, held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, drew between 6,000 and 6,500 people, with most of the congregation filling the Great Upper Church. Dozens also viewed the Mass via screens in the lower level of the basilica.
Pietro Cardinal Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said Pope Francis is “deeply grateful for the faithful witness shown publicly over the years by all who promote and defend the right to life of the most innocent and vulnerable members of our human family.”
The message was sent to the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese of the Military Services, to be read at the Mass.
(OSV News contributed to this report.)