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20141230cnsbr7462 webA man holds signs and prays during the 2012 March for Life rally in Washington. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

WASHINGTON (CNS) – "The biggest human rights rally in the world," as one regular participant described it, will return to the nation's capital for the annual March for Life Jan. 22.

The 42nd rally on the National Mall and march to Capitol Hill marks the anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1973 ruling in the case of Roe v. Wade that invalidated state and federal restrictions on abortions, legalizing abortion virtually on demand.

Micaiah Bilger, education director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, said she sees the march as an opportunity to move forward from Roe v. Wade.

"The March for Life is, I think, the biggest human rights rally in the world and it's wonderful to go and be with other people and unite under that cause," Ms. Bilger said in an interview with Catholic News Service. "It's important for us to stand up in our nation's capital and say, 'Abortion is a human rights injustice and we want to see all life protected.'"

The Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation usually brings a few hundred participants from around the state, Ms. Bilger said.

The range of people who attend -- from high school students to older men and women who have been going for many years -- offers an opportunity for participants to meet others of diverse backgrounds who share the same beliefs about abortion.

"We have a really good, really diverse group of people that go down every year," she said. "There are so many young people who are going to the March for Life nowadays, so many (pro-life) clubs that are popping up ... in high schools and college campuses, and there are ... just so many people who are stepping up and seeing that (abortion) is an injustice."

The March for Life also consistently draws many pro-life groups from college campuses each year. Katie Daniels, a sophomore at Boston College and president of the school's pro-life club, called the march "the highlight of our year," and said she expected about 30 students when their bus leaves campus the night before the march.

"It's a great way to (be) a witness to life outside our campus on a national scale and it's something we look forward to very much as a club, to kind of participate in this broader national dialogue about what it means to be pro-life," Ms. Daniels said.

Harvard University will also be sending 20 students to the rally. Jim McGlone, a senior at Harvard who has attended six times, said young people are a significant part of the movement.

"I think it shows that this is really the future of our country and our culture," he said. "The pro-life movement is alive and vibrant and young and joyous and is really a force in our society that can make a really positive change," he said.

Maggie Bick, a board member of Missouri Right to Life, said she expects about 250 people to join the 72-hour round trip to Washington. Bick said she feels it is important to attend because abortion is not only an injustice, but a mortal sin.

"(Since) our taxpayer dollars are being used to fund the abortion of other people who decide to make that fatal decision, I think we are being complicit in their sin," she said. "That is why it is worth the fight to me to do everything we can to change the laws, diminish the number of abortions and in particular make the drive for not using our tax dollars for abortion."

The federal Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of federal tax funds to pay for abortion, with exceptions for cases of rape, incest and danger to the life of the woman. However, many states cover at least some abortions in their health plans for poor women.

Though the March for Life focuses on abortion, the group representatives explained that their support extends to all human lives, regardless of age.

"Part of our mission is also legislative work, so we work in legislation here in Pennsylvania to make sure that there are resources available for pregnant and parenting moms so they don't feel like they're being pressured to have an abortion or feel like abortion is their only option," Ms. Bilger said.

Ms. Bick agreed it is important for pro-life groups to assist pregnant women in need. She said many members of Missouri Right to Life participate in pro-life causes beyond the march.

"There are some people focused on post-abortive women and there are many people who do ... counseling at ... (the) one abortion clinic in Missouri," she said. "Yes, we want to see Roe v. Wade overturned, but we also want to address our concerns for these women who are faced with a decision of whether or not to have an abortion.


alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.