Students participate in 42nd March for Life
A record-breaking 692 students from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross traveled to Washington D.C. last week for the annual March for Life.
Senior Rachel Drumm, president of Notre Dame’s Right to Life club, said this year’s march was an “incredible opportunity” for members of the Notre Dame community “to celebrate life and to remind the country that life is valuable and important.”
Last Thursday marked the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion in the United States.
“The Right to Life March is a peaceful protest that happens every year on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling,” Drumm said. “Hundreds of thousands of people from around the country gather together to march for this cause.”
Junior Noreen Fischer, 2015 March For Life trip coordinator, said the march is an important demonstration given that the topic of anti-abortion and pro-abortion rights is controversial nationwide.
“The march represents hope for a future in which all human life, from conception to natural death, is valued as sacred and not disposable,” Fischer said.
Junior Will Harris, one of this year’s trip coordinators, said the March for Life began on the National Mall with an hour-long Rally for Life and concluded in front of the Supreme Court building.
“[There was] a crowd of over 650,000 marches from the rally site up to the Supreme Court Building behind the Capitol,” Harris said. “During the March, you are usually able to interact with groups from around the nation through chanting, dancing, singing and discussing the cause for life. In addition to the main march, there are many conferences and Masses that can supplement the experience.”
Drumm said the March for Life is a symbol of hope and perseverance for the pro-life movement.
“I think that a lot of people may see the march as only a protest of this one law,” she said. “And in that case, they may argue that the march isn’t very effective because that law is still in place. To me, the march is much more than that. It gives a lot of hope to people in the pro-life movement and promotes a sense of cultural change.
“It helps people to slowly realize that life is valuable, and it’s something worth fighting for. And that’s how change happens.”
Harris said one of the key goals of the march is to re-energize the cause by inspiring people to foster a greater respect for life.
“I decided to go on the march with my brothers and sisters from Notre Dame because it’s a wonderful opportunity to get together with other pro-lifers and discuss ways in which we can create a culture that fosters all life from conception to natural death,” Harris said.
Saint Mary’s senior Brooke Fowler said she marches for “love for life.”
“I was born and raised into a big family, and I have been able to see life in such beautiful ways,” Fowler said. “I want to give a voice to the voiceless.”
Beyond the march itself, students had the chance to explore the city of Washington over the weekend. On Friday, many members of the Right to Life club attended Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
“For $35, you are able to partake in an unforgettable experience that includes the March for Life, having the ability to see Washington D.C. and receiving two University-approved excused absences,” Fischer said.
Drumm said this year marked her eighth March for Life in Washington.
“We have been sending students to the march for a very long time,” she said. “It started with a couple students who drove themselves out there, and it’s grown bigger and bigger every year since.”
Fowler, who has attended the March for Life three times, said her favorite aspect of the experience is the people she meets along the way.
“I have been impacted being surround by so many people who support life, experiencing profound moments of listening to stories and seeing witnesses and meeting people who are really inspiring,” Fowler said.
Harris said it was inspiring to see University President Fr. John Jenkins march alongside Notre Dame students.
“I love seeing Fr. Jenkins at the March for Life each year,” Harris said. “He is a man with so many responsibilities, so it really shows how important this issue is for our nation. He took time out of his schedule to come join us, not in some special vehicle or place but right in the midst of all of us students.”
Drumm said the March for Life fits very well with Notre Dame’s mission as a University.
“Notre Dame is very big on the phrase ‘what are we fighting for?’” Drumm said. “What better thing is there to fight for than life — specifically the lives of the most vulnerable, who can’t stand up for themselves?”