A flurry of pro-life events around the nation augmented the annual March for Life Jan. 22 in a frigid Washington.
In New Haven, Conn., headquarters of the Knights of Columbus, the Knights released the results of a poll conducted for them by Marist University.
The poll, released Jan. 21, indicated support for abortion restrictions, even among those who call themselves "strongly pro-choice." Of that group, 58 percent said they support limiting abortion to, at most, the first three months of pregnancy. Among all Americans, 84 percent support that restriction. Also, 84 percent said they do not see the abortion debate as an all-or-nothing proposition, saying that laws can protect both the well-being of a woman and the life of the unborn.
The poll also found that 74 percent of those responding favor a ban on abortions after 20 weeks except to save the life of the mother, 62 percent think abortion is morally wrong, and 53 percent believe life begins at conception.
Other findings included: 80 percent of Americans support parental notification before a minor can obtain an abortion; 79 percent support a 24-hour waiting period prior to having an abortion; 76 percent oppose allowing abortions to be performed by non-doctors; 62 percent want to change laws to allow for some restrictions on abortion; 58 percent support showing a woman an ultrasound image of her baby at least a day before an abortion; 57 percent believe abortion does a woman more harm than good in the long run; and 55 percent want continued debate on the abortion issue, including 60 percent of respondents ages 18-32, the so-called "millennials."
The National Right to Life Committee, in its own study issued Jan. 21, "The State of Abortion in America," estimated that more than 56 million abortions have taken place since the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton Supreme Court decisions in 1973 that legalized abortion virtually on demand.
The report noted that the number of abortions performed each year has gone down about one-third from its 1990 high of 1.6 million a year. The current figure is estimated at 1.1 million. The NRLC, in a Jan. 21 statement, attributed the drop to "pro-life legislative efforts at the state and federal level that have raised awareness about the humanity of the unborn child."
The NRLC report referred to its model legislation, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. It said the bill had been enacted in 10 states, while a federal version of the bill has been introduced. The legislation would bar abortions at the 20th week of pregnancy, citing evidence showing that unborn children are capable of feeling "excruciating pain" by at least 20th week of pregnancy. NRLC declared the bill to be its top congressional legislative priority.
Events were held in archdioceses around the country the weekend before the Jan. 22 march.
"March for Life Chicago -- Lovin' Life in Chicago" took place Jan. 19 in downtown Chicago. Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago was joined by, among others, Greek Orthodox Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos; Cesar LeFlore, founder of Chicago's African-American PowerLight Ministries; U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill.; and former Planned Parenthood employee Linda Couri.
In Los Angeles, a Youth Rally for Life, featuring speakers and performances, was held Jan. 18 in the plaza of Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral. It was followed by a "Requiem Mass for the Unborn" celebrated by Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles.
The liturgy featured an original score by John Bonaduce, which included hymns and music for parts of the Mass. The score began as a prayer service for the unborn and evolved into a Mass celebrated at the cathedral since 2003. The Mass concluded with a candlelight ceremony with about 220 candles, one for each life lost to abortion that day in Los Angeles County. The candles remained in the cathedral plaza for a week after the Mass.
Also Jan. 18, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver presided at an annual Mass of Remembrance of Roe v. Wade at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver.
After the Mass, Archbishop Aquila also presided at a prayer event and pilgrim blessing at the Lighthouse Women's Center in Denver, across the street from Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, followed by a procession to Planned Parenthood. There, participants placed flowers along the fence surrounding the campus and prayed for children who lost their lives at the facility.
Prior to the March for Life in Washington itself, about 250 students from The Catholic University of America, Washington, served as hosts for about five times that many cold and chilly pilgrims who had been at the opening Mass Jan. 21 of the National Prayer Vigil for Life next door at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
John Garvey, the university's president, spoke briefly to the students, telling them the march was important for both "delivering a message that life is sacred" and demonstrating that "civil discourse is important."
Another 350 or so Catholic University students braved temperatures in the teens to take part in the March for Life and the rally that preceded it.
On the morning of the march, members of the American Heritage Girls -- a faith-based character development program for girls designed to serve as an alternative to the Girl Scouts of America -- held its own youth rally at the Patriot Center in the Virginia suburbs of Washington.
American Heritage Girls provided financial support and water bottles for more than 15,000 youth at a "Life is Very Good Evening of Prayer" and a "Life is Very Good Morning Rally" organized by the Diocese of Arlington, Va., prior to the march before braving the temperatures and going to the rally and march.
A few days after the events in Washington, tens of thousands of women, men and children walked chanting and singing through San Francisco's downtown Jan. 25 behind a banner declaring "Abortion hurts women" for the 10th annual Walk for Life West Coast, the largest pro-life gathering on the West Coast.