Thousands of pro-life supporters this month will march in major cities throughout the country, marking the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision that mandated legal abortion in the U.S.
March for Life Chicago took place on Jan. 13, drawing numerous pro-lifers from Illinois and surrounding states, including Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, and Missouri. The event gathered more than 6,000 attendees.
The day began with an early morning rally for youth, Mass at Holy Name Cathedral, and brunch in support of the local pregnancy center, Aid for Women. In the afternoon, the procession and rally were held at the Federal Plaza in Chicago.
Speakers included Pat McCaskey, a co-owner of the Chicago Bears; Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago; Jeanne Mancini, president of the national March for Life; and Ryan Bomberger, founder of the Radiance Foundation.
The theme of the event, “Unique From Day One,” emphasized medical technology as affirming life beginning at conception. Dawn Fitzpatrick, president of the March for Life Chicago board of directors, said the pro-life message is a “synchronicity of science and faith when it comes to the uniqueness of each life.”
“Being pro-life is not in opposition to science. It’s quite the opposite in fact. Medical and technological advancements continue to reaffirm the science behind the pro-life cause – that life begins at fertilization, or day one, when egg meets sperm and a new, unique, human embryo is created,” she said.
Kevin Grillot, vice president of the March for Life Chicago, told Catholic News Agency that through science, “we can see where life begins, and how beautiful is it that each person, from the moment of conception, their DNA distinguishes them…Every single person is unique and distinct from whole human being, starting from the moment of their conception.”
Ryan Bomberger, one of the speakers at this year’s event in Chicago, said that the pro-life issue is personal for him: he was conceived in rape. While abortions following rape account for just 1 percent of total abortions in the U.S., he said, they are often used to justify the other 99 percent.
“As someone who is written off as an exception, it is particularly special to me,” he told Catholic News Agency of this year’s theme. “Pro-life is pro-science, it’s pro-woman, it’s pro-child, it’s pro-family. I think all those elements are so inextricable tied together with this theme – that you are not repeatable.”
He said his speech at the rally will offer the testimony of his own story as an example of the purpose and value of every human life. He hopes that his witness will encourage people to step out of their comfort zones and become a source of healing for others facing unwanted pregnancies.
“I am someone whose birth mother choose to be stronger than the violence of rape and not only gave me life but gave me the incredible gift of adoption,” he said.
Bomberger now has four children of his own, two of whom are adopted. “To have been adopted and loved and now to be the one who has adopted and loved, it’s just a really powerful thing,” he said. “I emphasize adoption and that you cannot address abortion without talking about adoption. For me, it’s like not finishing a sentence.”
Dozens of pro-life rallies in other cities across the U.S. will also be taking place this month.
March for Life Denver is scheduled for Jan 12. A rally entitled Celebrate Life 2019 will take place at the Colorado State Capitol. Praise and worship music will be held before the rally at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church.
One Life Los Angeles is planned for Jan. 19. After the rally, a Requiem Mass for the Unborn will be held at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels.
Other countries such as France, Poland, Italy, the Philippines are also scheduled to organize Walks for Life in the coming days and weeks.
Pope Francis has encouraged these marches and asked Catholics to participate to show their appreciation for the gift of life and protest against abortion.