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‘Still a lot of important work to be done’: Hundreds of Notre Dame students to join annual March for Life

| Friday, January 20, 2023

For the first time since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, thousands of students — including roughly 500 Notre Dame students — will coalesce on the U.S. Capitol for the March for Life.

The march began in 1974, the same year the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade, legalizing abortion in the U.S.

Half a century later and after a historic ruling overturning the federal right to an abortion, Notre Dame’s Right to Life club will march alongside tens of thousands of fellow pro-life and anti-abortion activists. The club has attended the march since it began.

Yet one thing distinguishes this year’s march from those of years past. This past summer the Supreme Court ruled in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that abortion is not a constitutional right, effectively overturning their prior decision in Roe v. Wade. Now that overturning Roe is no longer a rallying cry, Right to Life club leaders say they will campaign for other anti-abortion policies and support for pregnant women.

The Notre Dame Right to Life club is partnering with the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture to plan the event, including coordinating bus transportation for those participating. Right to Life club president Merlot Fogarty said the center is “crucial in helping us to execute this large-scale event and making it a success each year.”

The club will also host a mass in D.C. for alumni and others in the Notre Dame family to attend, Fogarty added. 

“[The mass] allows us to remain grounded in the true mission of our community, to promote and protect the sanctity and dignity of all human life in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church,” Fogarty said.

Many members of the club have made the trip before and are excited to do it again this year, including first-year Martha Cleary who has gone twice. 

“If there’s one thing that stands out in my memory of the march, it’s how joyful people were,” she said. “It’s a long walk, typically in the middle of really bad weather, and yet the sense of joy and community was contagious. I’m really looking forward to experiencing that same enthusiasm and community with Notre Dame Right to Life.” 

Fellow first-year Theo Austin, who has attended the march “at least seven times,” says that his favorite experience from the event in previous years has been reaching the top of Capitol Hill before getting to the Supreme Court and looking back. 

“You can see over the entire crowd of Americans who are standing together with one mission, to save the lives of the most vulnerable,” he said. “I find peace and strength in that.” 

Historically, the march has placed great emphasis on the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Cleary said one of the most common chants in previous years has been, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Roe v. Wade has got to go!” Currently, abortion legislation varies by state.

Yet students like the club’s sophomore class representative Frankie Machado are undeterred. 

“This year has obviously been big for the pro-life cause,” Machado said. “But there is still a lot of important work to be done.” 

The sentiment is echoed by anti-abortion advocates across the country, including here on campus. 

“Our club wants to emphasize its commitment to supporting women in this post-Roe America,” Fogarty said. “We demonstrate this commitment through our partnership with Saint Joseph Fertility Care Center in Mishawaka, our service through the Women’s Care Center and so much more. We want to create a culture in which abortion is never necessary, and no woman ever feels pressured to take the life of her child.”

Contact Matthew Broder at [email protected]

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