Pro-life activists March for Life

John Bloor

Villanovans for Life, the pro-life organization on campus, traveled to Washington, D.C., on, Jan. 22 to participate in the 31st annual March for Life. The March is organized by pro-life activists to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling which legalized abortion.

“I think that the March is a great opportunity to stand up and say that we won’t allow another 30 years of abortion in this country,” junior Mike Seibert, president of Villanovans for Life, said. Siebert, marching for the third time, was joined by nearly 40 other University students who took the opportunity to voice publicly their opposition to abortion.

Their first stop was Catholic University, where they visited the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for a brief prayer. Then the students traveled by subway to the Washington Monument, where several pro-life politicians spoke on behalf of the movement at a pre-march rally.

In addition to representatives from several states including Pennsylvania and New Jersey, George W. Bush lent his support via telephone.

“Abortion is an issue that deeply divides our country,” President Bush said. “And we need to treat those with whom we disagree with respect and civility, but we will continue to speak out on behalf of the most vulnerable members of our society.”

Following the rally, the pro-life supporters, estimated at over 100,000, made their way up Constitution Avenue to the steps of the Supreme Court building. While marching under Villanova banners, several students participated in anti-abortion chants while others prayed the rosary. After the March, the students met briefly with Pat Toomey, a pro-life Senate candidate for from Pennsylvania.

Although several pro-choice activists also attended the March, Villanovans for Life did not encounter them.

The University officially encouraged and supported all students, faculty and staff who wished to participate in the March. The Office of Mission Effectiveness sent e-mails to all faculty members excusing participants from classes.

“Our office asks faculty to make reasonable accommodation for students who desire to participate in the annual March for Life because we view participation as having not only educational value, but it is an important public expression of our faith tradition,” said Barbara Wall, special assistant to the president for the Office of Mission Effectiveness.

She added, “As a Catholic University, Villanova affirms the sacredness and dignity of all life, which reflects our awareness of the gift of life in creation from God.”

Christina Kochanowski, a junior and secretary of the group, she said appreciates the University’s support. “I feel proud to represent my school at the march, and I am glad to have the University supporting each of us there,” she said. “This proves that Villanova affirms its Catholic tradition and the Church’s teaching concerning the sanctity of each human life.”

Villanovans for Life is also active in opposing abortion at the local level. The group participates in weekly prayer vigils in Center City, Northeast Philadelphia and at Planned Parenthood in Wayne. The group distributes literature and invites speakers to talk on campus to help raise awareness about abortion.