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Students march on Washington

Matt Bramanti | Monday, January 26, 2004

Notre Dame students often have a reputation for being apathetic to current events, but don’t tell that to members of the Notre Dame Right to Life Club. The pro-life organization took about 200 Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students to Washington, D.C., last week to participate in the March for Life. The march, now in its 31st year, commemorates the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States.Janel Daufenbach, club president, said the march provided a unique opportunity to meet with pro-life activists from colleges across the nation. “It was really inspiring to be there with so many college students,” she said. Daufenbach said about 250,000 abortion opponents took part in the march, which led from the Washington Monument to the Supreme Court. Several students who attended the march said they were motivated by love for the unborn. Andrew McElhinney, a seminarian at Moreau Seminary, said he had a desire to defend the unborn. “It’s a really powerful experience,” McElhinney said. “It’s a great opportunity to show support for the most unprotected people in our society.”Senior Meg Hunter-Kilmer echoed that sentiment, calling the march “powerful.” Hunter-Kilmer said the massive gathering was a chance to build unity among pro-life students from different colleges. She said the Notre Dame contingent met students from Florida State, and each delegation took turns singing its school’s fight song as they marched. While the students may have been ready to reconcile with gridiron rivals, they were unyielding in their stance against abortion. “Life begins at conception,” Hunter-Kilmer said. “I think abortion is genocide.”In addition to the march, eight Notre Dame students attended a leadership conference at the Catholic University of America sponsored by American Collegiates for Life, a college pro-life umbrella organization. The conference included delegates from more than 50 colleges and universities nationwide.Daufenbach said the speakers focused on helping pro-life advocates argue their case. In addition, the club purchased a taped series of lectures on the subject.Lauren Galgano, vice president of the Right to Life club, said the wide representation at the conference was encouraging.”It was great to see schools with brand-new pro-life groups,” she said.She went on to say that the pro-life movement can create unity among groups with otherwise differing views. Catholic and Protestant groups, for example, were represented at the march, as were members of the Republican Party, Democrats for Life and Feminists for Life.”It shows it’s not a partisan issue,” Galgano said. “It’s a matter of life and death.”