Club calls off trip to D.C. for March for Life due to inclement weather
Kayla Mullen | Friday, January 22, 2016
Every year since the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision on the legality of abortion in Roe v. Wade, Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross students have demonstrated in support of the pro-life movement on the decision’s anniversary, with many traveling to Washington D.C. for the annual March for Life. However, this year, due to an impending blizzard in the nation’s capital, the March team and University staff cancelled the trip, choosing instead to hold a march on campus, according to an email sent out by the Office of Campus Ministry on Thursday.
While the March is typically held in D.C. to make a statement to elected officials, a march held on campus will achieve a different set of goals, Patrick Koehr, sophomore and member of the March team, said.
“I think that it will start a lot of conversations on campus among our own student body and will have a much more direct effect on a large portion of our student body,” Koehr said.
A march, whether in D.C. or on campus, displays the vitality and passion of the pro-life movement, vice president of events for the club and junior Emily Burns said.
“It can be very disheartening at times to be fighting for this cause and feel as though we are accomplishing nothing — attending the March however, reminds us all how many people are working together for this cause,” Burns said.“ … The attitude of the March is both joyful and serious, as we all join together in recognizing the gift that is life as well as the reality of what we are fighting for.”
The march on campus will begin with a Mass for Life at 11:30 a.m. in the Basilica, president of the Right to Life Club Janelle Wanzek said. After the conclusion of the Mass, the Right to Life leadership will pass out hats and signs and begin the march around 1 p.m, Wanzek said.
“The route will include a stop in front of Touchdown Jesus for a huge group picture and a stop in front of the Dome for a brief reflection and prayer,” Wanzek said. “The event will conclude with a procession to the Grotto where you can offer your own prayers and leave a candle.”
To some, the March may seem futile, but this past year has been very successful for the pro-life movement, Burns said.
“This past year, hundreds of pro-life legislation pieces were proposed,” she said. “A bill significantly reducing government funding of Planned Parenthood was passed in both the House and the Senate, only to be vetoed by President Obama. … It is very clear that our government is taking more and more notice of the pro-life movement, which is reflected in the kind of bills and legislation that have been proposed in the past year.”
The March is the Right to Life Club’s largest event of the year, but the club is very active in other work, focusing on service, education and spirituality, Burns said.
“Our service opportunities focus on groups of people that we feel that do not receive the dignity that they deserve,” she said. “The mission of our club is to encourage the dignity of all people, so that is why we reach out to a lot of organizations that help the mentally handicapped, special needs, the elderly, women in crisis pregnancies — a lot of groups of people that do not necessarily get treated with the dignity that they deserve.”
The club hosts seminars and sponsors a mentorship program between faculty and pro-life students in which the two groups discuss current issues in the pro-life movement, Burns said.
“We just added apologetics this past semester in order to teach our members how to better articulate, better present our views,” Burns said. “That’s an important side of our work — anyone who claims to be pro-life, we need to empower them to be able to talk about issues with people who do not necessarily agree with us.”
A common misperception about the pro-life movement is that the group only cares about the loss of a child, Burns said.
“The theme of the March for Life this year is actually the idea that pro-life and pro-woman go hand in hand,” she said. “ … Our theme for our Respect Life week this past year was ‘Love them both.’ We put roses on South Quad, one red rose, one white rose, intertwined — one represents the loss of a child, and one represents the pain of the mother.”
According to Burns, the pro-life movement emphasizes the human dignity of all people, no matter their circumstances or stage in life. The movement fights for this dignity to be recognized, Burns said.
“I believe that there are some major changes that need to take place in our nation if we truly aspire to our founding principle that all men are created equal,” Burns said. “I attend the March because I want to join in solidarity with all those fighting against what I view as the greatest injustice of our time, and I want to do all that I can to stand up for what I believe in.”