Students Participate in 2022 March for Life


Villanovans for Life

Villanovans for Life members pose outside Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C.

A.J. Fezza, Co-Culture Editor

On Friday, Jan. 21, numerous Villanova students participated in the 49th annual March for Life at the National Mall in Washington DC.

The first March for Life was held in 1974, one year after the passage of the landmark Supreme Court case that legalized abortion across the United States: Roe v. Wade. The March usually begins in front of the Washington Monument and ends at the steps of the Supreme Court, the site of the decision. In 2021, COVID-19 restrictions and increased security following the storming of the Capitol meant that the event had to be held online. However, participants were able to return in-person this year with the same fervor they have had for the past five decades.

Forty-three Villanova students were present at the event. Most of them came with Villanovans For Life (VFL), the University’s pro-life student organization, which sponsors a trip to the March each year. Since the March occurred on a Friday, participants had to miss class in order to attend. 

Villanova’s participants came equipped with posters of various pro-life quotes and slogans. Some of these included: “You don’t have to be planned to be human,” “A person is a person no matter how small,” and “Life offers no guarantees but abortion offers no chances.”

The 2022 March for Life comes on the heels on major developments regarding abortion access. On Sept. 1, 2021, the Texas Heartbeat Act went into effect in the state, marking the first time a state has successfully imposed a six-week abortion ban since Roe v. Wade. The U.S. Supreme Court has defended the constitutionality of the ban. These events have encouraged pro-life activists in the quest to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The Villanovan spoke with VFL President Andrew Patton about the organization’s experience at the March for Life.

“The only single word I can think of to describe the atmosphere is hopeful,” Patton said. “Thousands of middle school, high school and university students who were all there in the hopeful anticipation that Roe v. Wade will be overturned this June. Hopeful and thankful that abortion is finally starting to become a human rights issue, not only with respect to the mother, but also the human being growing inside her womb.”

Patton made it clear that the issue of abortion need not be aligned with America’s current partisan factions. 

“I was personally pleased with how little politics was discussed,” Patton said. “I was worried some people would try and turn the March into a MAGA rally. But no, the focus was on what us young people can do to support the changes that are coming — we need not only to ban abortion, but to make it unthinkable in our country and around the world.”

While VFL is not religiously affiliated, many of its members who attended the March for Life are active in Catholic life on campus.

The Villanovan spoke with sophomore Peter Keepman, Chancellor for Villanova’s Knights of Columbus Council, about his role in the March.

“It was a privilege to represent Villanova University and bear witness to our Catholic and Augustinian Values at the March for Life,” Keepman said. “There, we prayed and advocated alongside 150,000 people from across the nation for the end to abortion, and for the upholding of the dignity of all human life, from conception until natural death.”

There were numerous speakers at the March for Life, including U.S. Congressmen Chris Smith and Julia Letlow, priests, nurses, students and more. According to Patton, one common thread among the speakers was promoting not just an end to legal abortion, but creating an environment that is not conducive to abortion.

“Many speakers emphasized that before and after Roe is overturned, we have so much more work to do,” Patton said. “We have to encourage men to stand up authentically for the women in their life who feel scared and trapped, and that means supporting her and her wonderful child as much as we are able. Love supports and encourages, but it never enables. It simply isn’t noble or loving to hold a woman’s hand as she ends her child’s life. We have to provide for the mothers and make them feel safe—not make them feel like the carpet is being swept out from under them, but like they matter to us just as much as their child matters to us. Until every mother and father of a preborn child feels supported rather than restricted, we haven’t done enough yet.”

Overall, the atmosphere of the event was one of optimism for pro-life activists.