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  • Jan
  • 23

Life, liberty at ‘core of our national character,’ Boehner tells rally

Posted By January 23, 2012 | 4:49 pm | Lead Story #1

Life, liberty at ‘core of our national character,’ Boehner tells rally
By Julie Asher
Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Americans “as a people are pro-life” because life and liberty “are intertwined and form the core of our national character,” House Speaker John Boehner told the crowd gathered on the National Mall Jan. 23 for the 39th annual March for Life.
“God who gave us life gave us liberty,” said the Ohio Republican, who is a Catholic. He added that his pro-life stand isn’t political, “it’s just who I am.”
He and the other members of Congress who spoke at the rally said they were proud they had passed the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act and the Protect Life Act and voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and defund Planned Parenthood.
But now, said U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., “we must work to change the Senate and reclaim the White House which not only obstructs pro-life legislation but has for the past three years advanced abortion in so many ways, while not even attempting to appear to be working to make abortion ‘rare’ and offering support to women to choose life.”
Smith, a Catholic who is chairman of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, told the rallygoers that they were “an important part of the greatest human rights movement on earth — the selfless struggle by prayer, fasting and works to defend and protect all weak and vulnerable persons from the violence of abortion, infanticide and euthanasia.”
He also told the crowd, “The violent destruction of a child in the womb is not an American value.”
More than an hour before the rally kicked off, thousands of pro-life marchers, the majority of them high school and college-age youths from across the country, began to fill in the space around the speakers’ platform under overcast skies.
The temperature hovered in the high 30s. Intermittent rain forced marchers to put on ponchos and assorted rain gear and pull out their umbrellas. The wet weather left the National Mall a soggy and muddy patch, which marchers slogged through after the rally as they headed to Constitution Avenue, past the Capitol and up to the Supreme Court.
The rally opened with the national anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a joint Catholic-Orthodox prayer delivered by Metropolitan Jonah of All America and Canada. Religious leaders on the platform included Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
Nellie Gray, now 86, kicked off the speeches. She is the founder and president of the March for Life Education & Defense Fund, the group that organizes the march.
She told the crowd that their consistency in showing up in such great numbers to mark each of the 39 anniversaries since the Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion “shows we love our country and love our preborn children. We also love the abortionists we’re trying to educate.”
She called for Roe to be overturned “without any exception” and urged unity “on the life principles” she and her organization have espoused since the Supreme Court handed down its abortion decision.
Just as the Nuremberg trials after World War II “taught us genocide is a crime against humanity,” the federal government must understand that abortion is “a crime against humanity,” said Gray.


PHOTO: Bishop McManus blesses people who are attending the March for Life (kneeling) at Mass for Life in St. Paul Cathedral Sunday night. / Photo by Margaret M. Russell