(by Michelle Boorstein and Ben Pershing, WashingtonPost.com) WASHINGTON, D.C. – Thousands of bundled-up abortion opponents rallied Monday on the Mall [in Washington, D.C.], encouraged by recent federal and state GOP [Republican] wins and hopeful about proposed measures that would further tighten bans on federal funding for abortions.
The Youth Rally and Mass for Life, hosted by the Archdiocese of Washington, marked the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. Annual events tend to focus on mobilizing the young, and Catholic high schools, youth groups and colleges were out in force Monday in Washington.
For the first time, a morning Mass at Verizon Center was expanded to the D.C. Armory, where a parallel event was held. More than 27,000 young people attended the events, which began after dawn and included readings by youths in hooded sweatshirts and jeans, contemporary praise music and dozens of priests hearing confessions in the sports arena’s dining area.
The Rev. Mark Ivany of the Catholic Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda, who delivered the homily at Verizon Center, compared attendees to activists from previous eras who fought against slavery and for women’s right to vote.
“The greatest difference between other civil rights movements and this one is that most of the people affected by Roe v. Wade can’t march on Washington,” Ivany said. “They can’t give great speeches.”
The Verizon Center crowd spilled on to downtown streets to join a premarch rally on the Mall about noon. Some signs and buttons were evergreen: “De-fund Planned Parenthood,” “I was adopted not aborted” and “I regret my abortion.” Others mentioned President Obama, whom the movement hopes will be challenged by recently elected conservatives. “Stop the Obama abortion agenda,” a common sign said.
Advocates on both sides of the debate say that the number of governors and legislatures opposing abortion rights grew after last year’s elections. Abortion rights activists say that conservative candidates focused on their economic policies during campaigns and that the wins were not about the public wanting to limit access to abortion. Political experts say it’s unclear how central the issue of abortion will be for new lawmakers in Washington, particularly those with tea party backing.
Lawmakers cheered the crowds Monday in temperatures that hovered in the 20s. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the new Republicans in Congress are the “biggest and the most pro-life freshman class in memory.”
In the District, officials and abortion rights supporters say they are concerned about the potential impact of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, a measure introduced in the House last week that has more than 160 sponsors.
In addition to strengthening the U.S. ban on using federal funds for abortion services, the bill would bar the District from using its own money to provide abortions for low-income women. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said that conservative lawmakers, who normally advocate for state and local governments to have more autonomy, were being hypocritical in supporting the measure.
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has called the abortion measure “one of our highest legislative priorities,” but it has not been scheduled for a vote in the House, and it may not come up at all in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.) also introduced a measure that supporters say would ensure that the health-care reform bill passed last year doesn’t allow funding for abortion coverage. Lawmakers who oppose abortion sought to have an explicit funding ban written into the law, but Obama signed an executive order that he said did the same thing. Abortion foes said it didn’t go far enough. In his comments to the crowd Monday, Smith called Obama “the abortion president.”
Some attending the events Monday said that more young people appeared to be participating than in previous years.
Among them was Sister Marilyn Minter, a nun and youth leader from the Newark archdiocese. She stood outside Verizon Center because she couldn’t get a ticket for the concert and Mass.
“It’s reverence for life,” Minter said of the reason for what she saw as more energy among Catholic youths. “It’s interesting to me to see young kids want to respect life at every single level – birth to death.”
Copyright 2011 The Washington Post. Reprinted from the Washington Post for educational purposes only. Visit the website at washingtonpost.com.
1. What are pro-life attendees of the annual March for Life in Washington D.C. asking the government to do regarding federal funding for abortions?
2. What is Roe v. Wade?
3. March for Life organizers are focused on mobilizing which group of people?
4. How many young people attended pro-life events at Verizon Center and the D.C. Armory?
5. a) If passed into law, what would the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” do?
b) This is an important law. Go to govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h112-3 and scroll down for the provisions of the bill. Do you support or oppose this bill? (Do you think taxpayers should have to pay for abortions if they are morally opposed to abortion?) Explain your answer.
c) OPTIONAL: Send an email to your representative in the House expressing your support for, or opposition to, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”. Be clear, concise and polite. Find his/her email address at House.gov.
6. Per wikipedia: since 2003, approximately 250,000 people have participated in the D.C. March for Life every year. Many teenagers and college students attend the march each year, typically traveling with church/youth groups. Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney estimated that about half of the marchers are under age 30. March for Life has received relatively little media attention over the years.
Estimates for this year’s march were between 200,000 to 300,000.
a) Do you think this is a news story that should be more widely reported on? (because of the topic: abortion, or because so many young people are attending, both or neither?) Why or why not?
b) Ask a parent the same question.
The following LIFE PRINCIPLES express the ideals motivating prolife Americans and indicate the purpose of the MARCH FOR LIFE: (from marchforlife.org)
- We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all human beings are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which is the right to life, and Therefore
- The right to life of each human being shall be preserved and protected by every human being in the society and by the society as a whole, and
- The life of each human being shall be preserved and protected from that human being’s biological beginning when the Father’s sperm fertilizes the Mother’s ovum, and
- The life of each human being shall be preserved and protected from the biological beginning throughout the natural continuum of that human being’s life by all available ordinary means and reasonable efforts, and
- The life of each human being shall be preserved and protected at each stage of the life continuum to the same extent as at each and every other stage regardless of state of health or condition of dependency, and
- The life of each human being shall be preserved and protected to the same extent as the life of each and every other human being regardless of state of health or condition of dependency, and
- When there is any doubt that there exists a human being’s life to preserve and protect, such doubt shall be resolved In favor of the existence of a human being, and
- When two or more human beings are in a situation in which their lives are mutually endangered, all available ordinary means and reasonable efforts shall be used to preserve and protect the life of each and every human being so endangered:
- WHEREFORE, Pursuant To These Principles, we recommend and urge the adoption of a Mandatory HUMAN LIFE AMENDMENT to the Constitution of the United States of America.
One of the goals of the Pro-Life movement is to end government funding of abortions. The aim of legislation submitted to the House of Representatives last week, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” (H.R. 3) is:
To prohibit taxpayer funded abortions and to provide for conscience protections, and for other purposes.
(for full text and sponsors of the bill, go to govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h112-3 NOTE: Click on “Full Text” for all of the goals of the bill)
Visit the March for Life website at marchforlife.org.
Visit other pro-life organizations’ websites:
- nprcouncil.org (National Pro-Life Religious Council)
- aul.org (Americans United for Life)
Watch a video from the 2011 March for Life below:
and a video from the 2010 March for Life:
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