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Students march for life in D.C.

Marisa Iati | Monday, January 23, 2012

More than 300 Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross students braved a 15-hour journey to Washington, D.C. this weekend to support a cause they believe in.

These students participated in the annual anti-abortion March for Life rally on Monday, marking the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade.

Junior Chris Damian participated in the March for Life through Notre Dame’s Right to Life Club. He said it is important to show solidarity with the pro-life movement.

“For me, being pro-life means recognizing the inherent dignity of all human beings,” Damian said. “It means protecting the lives of the unborn, helping women in crisis pregnancies, showing women that abortion is not their only choice and respecting men and women in my daily life … I want to show men and women that they are loved and supported and to help other pro-lifers to be able to provide that love and support.”

Five buses of students left for Washington, D.C. on Friday evening, and another three buses left Sunday evening, Damian said. The students stayed at St. Agnes Catholic Church in Arlington, Va.

Sophomore Chelsea Merriman said Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend celebrated Mass with the students Sunday. The Notre Dame community celebrated another Mass with University President Fr. John Jenkins on Monday.

Merriman said that later on Monday, students participated in a demonstrated march from the National Mall to the Supreme Court. She said the pated in a demonstrated march from the National Mall to the Supreme Court. She said the purpose of the march was to say, “We are here, we aren’t going away and this is a cause that’s very important to a lot of us.”  

Junior Ellen Carroll said Notre Dame was a strong presence at this year’s March for Life.

“We had people coming up to us really excited that we were there from Notre Dame, and I liked being able to go with the University,” she said.

The issue of abortion is very relevant to the South Bend community, Damian said.

“On the bus ride down here, we each received a card with the name of a child aborted in South Bend last year and the date of that abortion,” he said. “I think that card really solidified the issue for a lot of us … This isn’t just an abstract issue or one in a country across the globe. This is a real issue happening down the street from our campus.”

Damian said the closeness of the issue was another reason he participated in the March for Life.

“I want to march for the child on my card and for his family,” he said.

Carroll said she enjoyed meeting people from across the country with a range of opinions about abortion.

“It was just a very cool thing to see how many people could come together to support their beliefs on an issue,” Carroll said.

Merriman said sometimes it is disheartening to see participants in the March for Life leave their posters and trash on the ground after the event.

“I support the pro-life mission [and] I like the solidarity in the march, but I sometimes feel really hesitant about the lack of respect [for the area],” she said.

The March for Life was still a very positive experience, Merriman said.

“It’s a very high-energy event,” she said. “There’s a lot of solidarity … If we keep doing this, we will make a change.”