Right to Life sponsors D.C. trip
Kaitlyn Rabach | Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Washington, D.C. — Three hundred and twenty Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students joined thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators on Wednesday in Washington, D.C. for the 41st annual March for Life.
Due to low temperatures and winter storm warnings, senior Jennifer Gallic, Notre Dame March for Life Trip Coordinator, said some Washington-bound buses were cancelled and numbers at the event were smaller than usual.
“Unfortunately, only about half of our [590 registered students] were able to make it to D.C.,” Gallic said. “Despite the cold, the group that made it was excited to stand with hundreds of thousands of pro-lifers to defend life.”
The March began at 12 p.m. on the National Mall where anti-abortion advocates gathered for an hour-long rally, Notre Dame senior Amanda Bambury said. The group then marched to the Supreme Court to mark the anniversary of “Roe v. Wade,” the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that struck down anti-abortion laws, she said.
“For a gathering of so many people it is a very pleasant atmosphere,” Bambury said. “It is not violent or hateful at all, but is filled with people who are so full of life and who really want to try and make a difference.
“It is such an honor, a privilege and a blessing to be able to walk side by side with my fellow Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross students and faculty who are so passionate about the cause and to walk by people who have traveled so, so far to march.”
The trip, organized by both Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s Right to Life groups, receives sponsorship from the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture, the Notre Dame Institute for Church Life and alumnae, Gallic said. The commitment to funding expresses the University’s larger commitment to expressing the importance of life issues to its students, she said.
“We have had people from Notre Dame go [to the March] since it started,” Gallic said. “The numbers were only a couple in the beginning, but Notre Dame has always been represented.
Notre Dame is committed to life issues, Gallic said. Right to life is part of the Catholic Church’s mission and Catholic Social Teaching. She said the close relationship between the organization and the president’s office is evident in the university’s decision to give excused absences to students who participate in the March.
Gallic said involvement with the Right to Life Club at Notre Dame helped shaped her perception of others and taught her the importance of the inherent dignity of all human persons.
“This group really shapes how you view other people in terms of the dignity that they have,” Gallic said. “At its core, the pro-life movement is about human dignity, so that definitely provides a different outlook on life — you see people through their worth as created in God’s image.”
Gallic, who has attended seven marches in her lifetime, said she found it encouraging to stand with so many others with the same passion for pro-life issues. She said it gives her the strength to continue to fight for a cause she “holds dear to her heart.”
“Just being involved with pro-life issues can sometimes be discouraging when you see the culture shifting so far away from it,” Gallic said. “Being at the March last year … by people who are so passionate about it, reminds you that you are not the only person fighting for this and [shows] how important of an issue it is.”
The Right to Life Club at Notre Dame works to educate students on life issues and provides students with a way to get involved, Gallic said. Since the group is at a Catholic institution, she said she believes the group is supported more than pro-life groups at other American college campuses.
“Compared to other pro-life groups at other universities, our group is very well received,” Gallic said. “We receive a ton of support from the administration.
“There is always going to be, especially on college campuses, people affected by abortion, and for those people seeing reminders of the pro-life movement can be hard, but we have never experienced a lot of resentment or a lot of negativity.”
Saint Mary’s senior Allie Richthammer said she feels she is in the minority at Saint Mary’s since she is pro-choice.
“I personally feel like it is a woman’s responsibility to choose what she does as far as reproductive issues and I don’t think that the government, or anyone else, should be involved in that decision making process,” Richtammer said. “I think it is a citizen’s private right to choose what they would like to do.
Richtammer said she thinks abortion will occur whether or not it is legal, and she said she feels abortion should be made safe as a result. Although she said she does not feel nervous about expressing her pro-choice views, at times she does feel reluctant.
“On the whole, I really haven’t experienced anything negative being a pro-choice supporter on Saint Mary’s campus, but it can feel a little awkward sometimes when people are talking about ‘killing babies’ or things like that,” Richthammer said. “When they bring it into that context, as far as abortions go, I don’t really view it like that. I view it as a women’s reproductive health issue rather than an abortion issue.”
Gallic said the Right to Life Club is always willing to engage in discussion with students about their beliefs and said anyone is welcome to come to the group’s events, including those who are not pro-life supporters. She said events like the March allow members of the club to engage with people from all different backgrounds and support groups, especially those of younger generations.
“At the March you are able to network with other college campuses, people of older generations and experts for the cause,” Gallic said. “It is great to see so many people come together for the pro-life cause.”