Jan. 29, 2020 — This past Saturday, a small group of dedicated individuals gathered at the corner of Ninth Street and the intersections of highways 101 and 126 to participate locally in the annual nationally observed March for Life.
In 1974, the March for Life originated in response to the Supreme Court Decision handed down in the case of Roe v. Wade, which was decided in January 1973. In the case, the court ruled to protect a women’s right to terminate a pregnancy without excessive government interference or restrictions.
The rationale for the decision was based in the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which the court found provides a fundamental “right to privacy” for all citizens. Also applicable were elements of the Ninth Amendment, which addresses rights not specifically cited in the Constitution.
Both of these lines of thought were cited and discussed at length in the 7-2 majority opinion, written by Justice Harry Blackmun.
The Supreme Court’s ruling invalidated many state restrictions on abortion rights and initiated a debate on the rights of the preborn that continues to this day. It also began a process of efforts by state legislatures to reign in the rights of women in states which rejected the conclusions reached in Roe v. Wade. This effort has led to a significant reduction of women’s reproductive services in many states and to the defunding of organizations that provide contraceptive services to women.
Locally, Pam Henry was one of the coordinators of the Florence March for Life and her position on the issue is straightforward. Henry believes that life begins at conception and once that human being is created, the person that will eventually emerge from the womb deserves protection and care.
“Many women choose abortion because they don’t believe they have another choice. In my opinion, abortion has created an environment in our country in which life has become very cheap,” Henry said. “I believe every abortion is a tragedy and the reason we were there on Saturday was to bring awareness to this issue. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its citizens to value life.”
She thanked the Knights of Columbus from St. Mary’s Catholic Church for organizing this event and the people who attended the march in support.
At the Washington D.C., rally, participants began the March for Life on Constitution Avenue and made their way to the Supreme Court Building, where they observed a moment of silence. The marchers then gathered on the National Mall to listen to Pro-life activists and religious leaders whom oppose what they see as the illegal and immoral killing of the unborn.
On Friday, Jan. 24, Donald Trump became the first U.S. President to speak live at the rally. Previously, presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush spoke live via telephone to marchers. Vice President Mike Pence spoke live in 2017 and Trump addressed the rally via satellite last year.
“All of us here understand an eternal truth: Every child is a precious and sacred gift from God,” Trump stated. “Together, we must protect, cherish and defend the dignity and the sanctity of every human life. When we see the image of a baby in the womb, we glimpse the majesty of God’s creation. When we hold a newborn in our arms, we know the endless love that each child brings to a family.”
Trump’s live appearance was heralded as a major step forward in the ongoing struggle to overturn Roe v. Wade. Speeches given by rally organizers and the speech given by the president reflected the polarization that currently exists in the nation, but particularly so in the area of women’s rights.
“I have taken historic action to support America’s families and to protect the unborn,” he continued. “Sadly, the far left is working to erase our God-given rights, shut down faith-based charities, ban religious leaders from the public square and silence Americans who believe in the sanctity of life. … They are coming after me because I am fighting for you and we are fighting for those who have no voice. And we will win because we know how to win. You’ve been winning for a long time.”
The response to the Trump speech by those in attendance was overwhelmingly positive, as the president was interrupted on numerous occasions by applause from the crowd.
In the past years, there has been a renewed sense among anti-abortion activists that the tide might be turning in the nearly half century of debate concerning Roe v. Wade.
The targeting of individual legislators in battleground districts across the south has been effective in increasing support for state-passed legal restrictions on fetus viability dates. This strategy has been successful in dramatically reducing the number of women’s health care centers that provide contraceptive services and is being replicated in Georgia, Virginia, Texas and the Carolinas.
While originally planned as a one-time event to force the reversal of the Roe v. Wade decision, the March for Life continues on an annual basis as the ruling stands. Organizers vow to continue the annual march until the Roe v. Wade decision is reversed or overturned by the Supreme Court.
“One life changes the world,” Trump said. “From my family, and I can tell you, I send love and I send great, great love.”
For more information on the Florence Oregon Right to Life group, contact Ronelle Kuert at 541-999-0932.