By Katie Ward, Duane Paul Murphy
The 45th annual March for Life on Friday, January 19th has brought scores of visitors, differing opinions, and educational events to campus this week. The Cardinals for Life student organization has been gathering volunteers in the Pryzbyla Center leading up to the March and hosted a March for Life pep rally.
This was the second year of the pep rally, held in Great Room B on Tuesday, January 15th. Students who attended the event were given a Cardinals for Life t-shirt, other pro-life attire, and craft supplies to make posters for the March being held at the end of the week. Speakers at the event included Rev. Eric de la Pena, OFM Conv., Aimee Murphy from Rehumanize International, and Kathryn Jean Lopez from The National Review.
Father de la Pena opened the night with the Gospel reading about the Good Samaritan and told the crowd that Catholics are called especially to help those neighbors that cannot give anything back. After an opening prayer, students spent time making posters and signs to hold on the March before gathering again to hear from the speakers.
Lopez, a 1997 graduate of Catholic University, recalled Vatican writings about the sanctity of women’s role on earth to carry children. Lopez is known for her Catholic opinion pieces as a conservative columnist, and she will be one of the panel speakers at the March for Life Conference on the night before the March.
Murphy spoke at the end of the night about the importance of being not just pro-birth but pro-life in all issues.
“That is what is so powerful about young women speaking out and saying that abortion is not only contrary to human dignity because it is an act of violence, but that we don’t need to be just like men in order to be successful, that we have the same human equality regardless of our gender,” Murphy said.
After the 1973 Supreme Court Ruling Roe v. Wade, abortion became legal and constitutional under the right to privacy within the 14th Amendment. The controversial medical procedure continues to remain a divided issue amongst the American population forty-six years later. According to recent 2017 public opinion polling from Gallup, 29% believe that abortion should be legal under any circumstances, 50% of Americans surveyed believe that it should be legal only under certain circumstances, and 18% want it illegal in all circumstances.
Student supporters of both sides of the issue agree on the need for the right to protest as well as the need for dialogue and comprehension between sides.
Katie Hodgdon, junior politics major and Catholic University of America College Democrats vice president, said that although she disagrees with the movement, she supports everyone’s right to protest, one of the “great things about being an American”.
“However, being at CUA’s campus, you learn when to hold your tongue, especially during the week of March for Life,” Hodgdon said. “Since coming to CUA I see a new crowd of people of my generation being pro-life, something unheard of at home. I question some of the ‘facts’, statistics, and hashtags people on both sides of the issue have.”
When asked about the theme for the 2018 March for Life, “Love Saves Lives”, Cardinals for Life president Diana Hernandez explained that “throwing facts and statistics at people doesn’t always get the message across, but it’s all about love”.
“It’s about that witness of love,” one student said. “If we know this truth we have to share this truth.”
About four hundred Catholic University students registered to attend the March on Friday to listen to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, U.S. representatives, and a video message from President Trump.