45 years after Roe v. Wade, MCCL ties march to 2018 election

| January 10, 2018 | 0 Comments
March for Life

Pro-life advocates brave the elements Jan. 22, 2016, at the annual March for Life at the State Capitol in St. Paul. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

When thousands of pro-life advocates gather on the steps of the State Capitol in St. Paul Jan. 22 to mark the 45th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide, there will be some added incentive to make their voices heard and gather in solidarity for the annual Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life March for Life.

Both of Minnesota’s U.S. Senate seats will be up for election in November, plus the office of governor.

Gov. Mark Dayton announced plans to retire at the end of his term, Sen. Amy Klobuchar will reach the end of her six-year term, and former Lt. Gov. Tina Smith will have to run for re-election after replacing Sen. Al Franken, who resigned amid claims of sexual misconduct.

“I think those things will energize people to not only attend the march, but become more engaged in the coming year because there are opportunities to elect pro-lifers,” said Bill Poehler, MCCL communications director. “And, that leads to the passage of pro-life legislation.”

Poehler has worked for MCCL since 2001, and he thinks that this election year could offer a rare opportunity for pro-life advocates to help bring about change that could move the country closer to ending abortion.

At the same time, he also knows that the weather is a wild card that could wreak havoc on the march, like it did in 2014 when dangerously cold temperatures moved the march indoors, only the second time that has happened in 43 years.

Another factor is day of the week. Weekends typically draw larger crowds, he said, so this year’s Monday march could feature a smaller number of participants. He said crowds typically range from 3,000 to 8,000 people each year. He is hoping for 3,000 to 5,000 attendees this year.

“It’s really important that people continue to speak out on the issue of abortion,” Poehler said. “It’s one of those essential, bedrock issues — that human life needs to be protected in our state, in our society.

“It’s important that people come and continue to come until there’s change, until every life is protected,” he continued. “It makes a difference when people come.”

One longtime supporter of the pro-life movement and the march is Mary Schmit, who organizes the march every year and has worked in pro-life efforts since the late 1960s.

“The right to life [is a] basic human rights issue,” said Schmit, 82, a member of Our Lady of Grace in Edina. “Without life, all other rights are meaningless.”

This year’s March for Life is noon at the State Capitol, and is preceded by a 10:30 a.m. Prayer Service for Life at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul led by Archbishop Bernard Hebda.

All Saints parishioner: ‘The rights of others and the right to life are more important than our own comfort’

Cathy Blaeser of All Saints in Lakeville grew up in Maryland near Washington, D.C., and she remembers going to the National March for Life when she was a young adult in the late 1980s.

“My dad was really involved in the pro-life movement, and so I went with my dad in D.C.,” said Blaeser, 52, now married with six children.

She has been passing down that experience to her children since moving to the Twin Cities in 1995 with her husband, Dave. Her last Washington march was Jan. 22 of that year, when she attended with her dad, Frank Blunda, and her infant daughter, Molly, now 23, in a stroller.

The Blaesers have continued to give their children the same experience here. Most years, they have attended Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life’s March for Life at the State Capitol. Cathy Blaeser does not want to abandon the fight.

“We continue to go because we want to make a statement to legislators and to the public about how important this issue is, and to remind people of the number of lives that are lost every year through abortion, and also as a statement to our children of the importance of this issue, that they see that it’s important to stand up for the rights of others,” she said.

She added: “It doesn’t matter how cold it is or how inconvenient it might be; the rights of others and the right to life are more important than our own comfort.”

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