For over twenty years now I have been attending the annual March for Life held in Washington, DC in January to commemorate and protest the Supreme Court decision rendered in 1973 for Roe v. Wade legalizing abortion in the USA. I have missed a couple of the Marches in that time: in 2021 the MFL was cancelled due to the pandemic and one year a blizzard resulted in local buses being cancelled.
Over the years I have attended the event with many different groups/buses leaving from Queens or Brooklyn. I have attended with St. Stan’s of Maspeth, St Joseph’s of Astoria, St. Sebastian’s, Holy Family, and the last 2 years with the bus from the Brooklyn Diocesan office. After last year’s experience, when the bus left extremely late which resulted in me missing the rally, I sought to find a bus leaving at an early, reliable time. I was informed of a bus sponsored by Notre Dame Church in New Hyde Park, scheduled to leave at 5:00 AM with a 4:30 Mass before leaving. The night before the MFL I received a call from the bus captain confirming my and my son’s attendance, apparently with the upcoming forecast for snow some people had backed out.
The bus left on time and was about half full. Among the attendees were Rev. Stephan Rooney of NDC and a seminarian from the Rockville Centre Diocese. We arrived early in Washington, DC and had pictures taken with Bishop John Barres of that diocese. While it was snowing, there was not much of an accumulation and spirits were high. When I first started attending the March, I thought that the original organizer Nellie Gray did a great job. Nellie stepped down over 10 years ago and turned it over to Jeanne Mancini. Jeanne not only upheld the spirit of the MFL, but she has also implemented improvements to the rally and the March.
Every year now there is a theme; this year’s was “Pro-Life: With Every Women, for Every Child.” The rally included many speakers consistent with this theme. There were speeches from people who run Emergency Pregnancy Centers (EPCs), women who benefitted from them, and people who owe their lives to EPCs. Jeanne indicated that nationwide private donations account for approximately $358 million a year for EPCs. While this seems like a lot of money to most people, I know that our politicians in New York provide over $100 million a year of our taxpayer money in trying to make New York the national destination for abortions -- sad and evil. She also indicated that while the MFL in Washington, DC goes on, state marches are growing and that’s good news for the Pro-Life movement. There were eight state marches held in 2023 and sixteen are scheduled for 2024. While New Jersey will have a state march, New York is not as fortunate.
As usual, the MFL continues to draw many young people, which is promising for the Pro-Life movement. My son spoke with some students from Liberty University who stood out with their bright red hats. He was informed that LU had approximately 1,000 students in attendance.
Among the many speakers at the rally were Ben Watson, a former NFL tight end with the Patriots and the Ravens, who proudly proclaims his Pro-Life position and support. Newly elected Speaker of the House Mike Johnson spoke at the event and shared the fact that he was the result of an “unplanned pregnancy.” The Speaker also brought some good news, the house had just passed two pieces of legislation: one would provide support for students who become pregnant and the other would put an end to President Biden’s attempt to defund Emergency Pregnancy Centers. The sad part of this good news is that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York will probably let both pieces of legislation die by not acting on them.
Another special guest speaker was Jim Harbaugh, a former NFL football player and football coach at the college and professional level whose University of Michigan squad had recently won the college national championship. Personally, I was shocked at his appearance. I did not know that he had Pro-Life values. I guess this subject was never brought up in the many years that he spent coaching in California for University of San Diego, Stanford University and the San Francisco 49ers.
Upon completion of the rally the March started on time. The March route was altered last year to include marching in front of the US Capitol. After passing the front of the Capitol, marchers pass the Cannon House Office Building across the street from the Capitol. At the Cannon Building many staffers and, I assume, Congressmen were waiving and cheering on the balconies as we passed by in show of support for the cause. Along the March I was interviewed by a journalist from Texas who inquired as to why I was attending, and a host of other questions. As usual the March ended in front of the Supreme Court where counter demonstrators were almost nonexistent. Our bus was scheduled to meet us and leave from St Joseph’s Catholic Church on the Hill. As in other years the local Catholic churches offered refreshments and opened their doors to all.
Many people ask me why I continue to attend the MFL since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade in its June 2022 decision. I emphatically tell them that we are up against an evil and determined group of people who have no respect for human life whatsoever. The fact that they would advocate the killing of innocent, defenseless human beings tells the whole story. We must not let our guards down. In fact in New York State and City there is much work to be done. We must change the hearts and minds of those who are in the dark.
Thomas Murawski is the chairman of the Joint Parish Respect Life Committee.