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Since his inauguration in 2009, Barack Obama has recognized many crowds who gather for one cause or another – many except the March for Life.
Nevertheless, numerous leaders, including celebrities and a former Planned Parenthood director, join March for Life President Nellie Gray in calling Americans to the front lines of the battle against abortion.
“Why do we come out to Washington officialdom to mark the anniversary of the Supreme Court declaring that our innocent pre-born brothers and sisters are not persons and some people could intentionally kill them with impunity in America?” asked Gray. “Because the killing of one innocent person is the killing of too many. But over the last 38 years, America has suffered the intentional killing of more than 50 million pre-born children.”
Abby Johnson, renowned former director of a Planned Parenthood in Texas, will join the March for Life on Monday.
“Lawmakers and judges have to take notice because there’s 250,000 – 300,000 – people right there in their front yard,” she said with a little laugh.
Johnson understands why abortion advocates try to ignore pro-lifers. While she worked at Planned Parenthood, she thought of herself as a Christian and resented them praying outside her office. Now she’s becoming a Catholic and speaking about her pro-life conversion in the bestselling book “unPlanned.”
Johnson’s change of mind and heart began as she assisted in an abortion and watched it on a sonogram.
“It was clear to me that I wasn’t watching a simple choice,” she said. “It was very gruesome, the taking of a life. I saw the baby’s body being twisted and burned. As I said in the book, the baby was wrung like a dish cloth and its body just kind of crumbled into the tube. It was terrible to watch.”
Johnson welcomes everyone in the abortion industry to leave it behind and begin a life of peace and joy.
Religious leaders sound the cry to rally
Religious leaders of many stripes have been invited to speak from the March for Life platform, but the lineup isn’t yet confirmed.
American Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of Apostolic Signatura, otherwise known as chief justice of the Vatican supreme court, sent a message from Rome to the nation’s largest religious bloc and everyone of good will.
“The annual March for Life is a most effective instrument in the work of restoring the protection of the right to life for the innocent and defenseless unborn,” he said.”It gives an eloquent and strong pro-life witness to the whole nation.
“[I]t is important that as many citizens as are able make the effort to take part in the March for Life for the sake of our tiniest brothers and sisters.”
Cardinal Burke hopes that the executive, lawmaking and judicial branches of the U.S. government will restore protection of “the right to life of all, from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death” because it’s “critical to the future of our nation and all of her citizens.”
Rabbi Yehuda Levin, president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, will make his annual pilgrimage from Brooklyn to pray, preach and blow his shofar in honor of God.
“Certainly on the lower level of things, in terms of activism, people should not think they’ve satisfied their religious moral obligations to God and the pre-born babies by marching after those innocents were slaughtered in what I’m beginning to call the American holocaust,” he said.
“Ask yourself,” Rabbi Levin continued, “‘Am I here to have a good time and shout for life with my friends or am I going to use this as a catalyst for the rest of the year?’
“Most pro-life activists won’t say it, but I will. John Boehner cries easily and I respect the emotion, but how about crying for the babies, Speaker Boehner? How about defunding Planned Parenthood within the first hundred days of your reign?”
Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, joined the chorus.
“Why do I march, and why do I encourage others to march?” he asked. “It gives voice to the children. Yes, abortion continues unabated. But it does not continue unchallenged. When a tragedy goes on and on, the voice of those who defend the victims must only increase, not fall silent.”
Taking prayer to the streets
Alveda King, pastoral associate of Priests for Life and spokesperson for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, believes that victory begins with love and prayer.
“Since my birthday is on January 22nd, I like to celebrate by participating in the March for Life and speaking out for the unborn who have no voice,” she said.
“As my uncle Martin Luther King, Jr. said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ Abortion is the greatest injustice of our time,” she said. “As members of the human race, we are called by God to protect the least among us, the unborn babies in the womb.”
Joe Scheidler, founder and director of the Pro-Life Action League, said, “There’s a mood change in the country. Abortion is still an ugly word. Most doctors and people who work in abortion clinics pretend they’re not doing that.
“I march for life because I’m trying to reach people that will be activists,” he said. “I think pro-life people are the greatest people in the world because they know the truth and truth is the root of freedom.”
Bobby Schindler, executive director of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, offered advice to his fellow marchers.
“Despite life’s daily challenges, we must remain in constant prayer so that God’s graces and our love for life shines through every one of us,” he said.
David Bereit, national director of 40 Days for Life, said, “I march along with hundreds of thousands of other Americans to memorialize the 52+ million children who have been killed by abortion and to stand in solidarity with the millions of women – and men – who have been wounded by abortion.
“The massive crowd that will fill the National Mall and the streets of the capital sends a clear message to our elected leaders: The majority of Americans are pro-life, and we are calling upon you to take courageous action to end the atrocity of abortion.”
Here come the young
Throngs of students, mostly from Christian schools, will descend upon the nation’s capital to march for life.
Kristan Hawkins, executive director of Students for Life of America, or SFLA, will lead members from secular and religious colleges.
“I march every year because I know how important it is that pro-lifers come to Washington and show our nation’s leaders that we are the majority, we aren’t going away, and we will continue to fight until that day when abortion is unthinkable,” said Hawkins.
Musician Erik Whittington, executive director of Rock for Life, whose members include pro-life rock bands, is collaborating with SFLA and 40 Days for Life in hosting the National Pro-Life Youth Rally immediately following the March for Life.
“It is extremely important that pro-life Americans get out and engage culture. Stand up for what you believe,” said Whittington.
“Pray, meditate, read and walk out your beliefs. If abortion is murder, act like it. Live like every day God wants to do something through you to save children. Ask for His guidance – He will answer.”
Stars come out in daylight
Producer and performer Eduardo Verastegui, whose acting credits include “Bella,” “The Butterfly Circus,” and the upcoming feature “Cristiada” with Andy Garcia and Eva Longoria, hopes to join the March for Life and speak to the National Pro-Life Youth Rally.
Last fall, Verastegui’s foundation Manto de Guadalupe opened “an oasis of life in a desert of death.” Already his Guadalupe Medical Center at 3020 Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles has served 450 poor pregnant women amid 10 abortion clinics.
Jason Jones, president of the Human-Rights Education and Relief Organization known as HERO, is also a producer of the movies “Bella” and “The Stoning of Soraya M.” He will speak to the Students for Life Conference and march in Washington.
“Every year the March for Life crowd gets larger, younger and more diverse,” said Jones. “Our organization comes every year to share the whole-life message – the fundamental truth that we are made in the image of God and that every human life is of incomparable worth: from the child in the womb to the child in Darfur, from the embryo to the elderly.”
Likewise, international speaker, actor and fashion model Mario St. Francis said, “Add to the numbers. We must stand up, speak up and witness to the truth that abortion is a killer: a killer of children, hope, love and families. The more the American people speak up, the more elected leaders and media will notice us.”