With signs hoisted and maracas shaking, a drum line consisting of students from Blessed José Sanchez Del Rio High School Seminary in Mankato chanted pro-life messages to the beat. The young men came with their rendition of the 1970’s song “Na Na Na Na Hey Hey-ey Goodbye,” substituting “pro-life” for “goodbye.”
The spirited group marched with thousands of others Jan. 22 along the near-mile route from the Cathedral of St. Paul to the Lower Mall of the Capitol, where Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, sponsor of the annual March for Life, led a program of speakers and laid out its legislative agenda for 2016.
The march commemorated the 58 million babies who’ve been aborted in the U.S. since the Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion on demand in Roe v. Wade 43 years ago.
Following an invocation from Bishop Paul Sirba of Duluth, representatives from MCCL, the sole Minnesota affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee, told the thousands of attendees that it will work to prohibit taxpayer-funded abortion, require abortion facilities to be licensed by the state and allow inspections, and prohibit the dismemberment abortion procedure.
Speaker of the House Rep. Kurt Daudt told the crowd to “stick together and work hard to end abortion.”
“Every child in the state of Minnesota has a right to life and a right to fulfill their God-given potential,” he said, adding that despite having a governor who supports abortion, there’s a pro-life majority in the House of Representatives and 100 percent of the Republican caucus, making Minnesota a “pro-life state.”During the program, seven women stood on both sides of the podium holding signs that read, “I regret my abortion.”
Christine Morrison from the Diocese of Duluth said it’s not just the babies who she marches for; it’s also for the women.
“We’re pro-life because it [abortion] hurts women as well,” Morrison said. “There’s a lot of damage that we don’t see — to her soul, to her psyche. Abortion does violence to women.”
Morrison said she thinks there’s a divide among the pro-life movement — that post-abortive women who regret their decision and oppose abortion perceive some pro-life advocates as hating them for the choice they made.
“It sows a seed of deception and again keeps her isolated,” Morrison said, adding that women need to know the majority of pro-life advocates want to help them heal.
For that reason, Morrison wants to see the pro-life movement gear its message toward women — especially those who’ve had an abortion.
“Abortion will stop once we acknowledge the women,” she said.
MCCL also encouraged pro-life advocates to attend the March 1 precinct caucus, where they can help choose the party nomination for public office.
“Otherwise, other people will decide for you,” said MCCL President Leo LaLonde.
At the Prayer Service for Life that preceded the march, Bishop John LeVoir of New Ulm told a packed congregation in the Cathedral of St. Paul that because God created people in his image and likeness, “we’re part of creation and have an exceptional dignity, value and worth. Each of us is a reflection of God, and you can’t get more valuable than that,” he said.
Citing Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si,’” Bishop LeVoir stressed that the problem arises when people forget where humans came from and start taking human life for granted.
“Today is a special day to pray and think about how we can live the works of mercy to accompany others,” he said, making a special note of accompanying mothers and fathers experiencing a difficult pregnancy.
Bishop Paul Sirba of Duluth and Bishop John Quinn of Winona also attended. Archbishop Bernard Hebda, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, was in New Jersey, where he’s coadjutor archbishop of Newark; and Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens was with local pilgrims at the national March for Life in Washington, D.C.
Laurie Nosbush, a mother of four and a parishioner of St. Francis Xavier in Buffalo, attended the prayer service for the first time and said she was excited to march to show her support for the pro-life movement.
“Everybody has to take a step forward. If it’s not you, who’s it going to be?”