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Notre Dame leads March for Life in capital

John Cameron | Friday, January 25, 2013

More than half a million people are expected to converge on our nation’s capital today to rally in support of pro-life policies. At the very front of the March for Life, Notre Dame students, faculty and alumni will lead under a large white banner.

While Notre Dame has been represented at the March for years, senior and ND Right to Life Communications Director Stephen Wandor said this year is unique.

“It’s really a great honor for us and speaks to all the great pro-life work that’s going on on campus, both through our club and through the Center for Ethics and Culture Fund to Protect Human Life, as well as the Institute for Church Life,” Wandor said.

Club President Jen Gallic, a junior, said ND Right to Life received the honor of leading the March because the March’s director spent time at the University last summer.

“The new director for the March, Jeanne Monahan, actually attended the Vita Institute run through the Center for Ethics and Culture,” she said. “So I contacted her asking what we could do for the March and she asked us about leading the March. [The invitation is] kind of from her being familiar with Notre Dame.”

Approximately 600 students are registered to go on the March, and Gallic estimates approximately 100 faculty and administration members will attend.

“Last year we had 350 [students], so obviously it’s a huge jump this year,” she said. “We’ve never had alumni meet up with us, so that’ll be a big difference.”

Wandor attributed the uptick in participation to a number of factors.

“I think leading the March definitely assisted [with increasing participation], but most of the people signed up before we were aware we were leading the March,” he said. “We did a lot of advertising this year. We really made a big emphasis on going to the March this year since it’s the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.”

The March will begin at 11 a.m. with a rally at the National Mall, where various addresses will be given, and will conclude in front of the Supreme Court, Wandor said.

Wandor said he believes the large-scale show of support makes a powerful statement to leaders.

“Protest is a very important way to show our leaders that we really care about this,” he said. “You can write a letter or editorial, but to make the trip, that speaks volumes to officials.”

Beyond the impact the group can have on the March as its leaders, Wandor said the 13-hour bus trip and overnight stay at St. Agnes Parish in Arlington, Va. will increase participants’ awareness of the club’s other activities.

“[It’s an opportunity] just to get the students involved and to get the students to see what we’re really about, not just going to the March but also on the buses there and being able to talk to them a little about some of the other events we do, perhaps to get them more involved on some of our other activities on campus,” Wandor said.

ND Right to Life works with Hannah and Friends, a nonprofit organization that aids people with special needs, and the Women’s Care Center, which provides pregnancy services. The club also hosts weekly adorations and rosaries outside a local abortion clinic and performs outreach at a local home for the elderly.

“We also have a Joys of Life commission, and their mission is really the idea that the best way to protect life is to celebrate life,” Gallic said. “That’s really a mission that our club has revolved around this year,”.

Additionally, the club hosts various lectures and seminars. Not all focus on abortion and related issues.

“One thing we want to emphasize is that it’s not just about us being against abortion,” Wandor said. “The club’s purpose and its mission revolve around human dignity and upholding the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception up until natural death.”