On January 19, fourteen students from the Boston College Students for Life Club joined hundreds of thousands of other pro-life activists from across the country for the 45th Annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. Hundreds of thousands of participants joined to protest the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal in all 50 states. In recent years, the pro-life movement has expanded to include advocacy against euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, and the death penalty. However, with an estimated 60 million children’s lives lost through abortion since the 1973 decision, legal protection of the unborn remains the most pressing pro-life issue.
The movement is remarkably full of young people—predominantly female. 10 of the 14 students from Boston College were women, and 10 were freshmen. Students marched with signs proclaiming “We are the Pro-Life Generation” and “Pro-Life is Pro-Woman.”
Several other Catholic universities and colleges were represented in the March. From the University of Notre Dame, more than 1,000 students marched alongside their president, Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C and 64 other faculty and staff. The Franciscan University of Steubenville sent over 750 students. Creighton University, a Jesuit institution, sent 79 students, and Georgetown University sent about 50. Many pro-life groups from secular and state universities participated as well.
Students from Boston College left campus Thursday evening and took the night train to D.C. Arriving Friday morning, they traveled to St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church for the Jesuit Mass for Life. Around 1,000 students from 15 Jesuit universities and high schools were present at the Mass. The was given by the Rev. Sam Sawyer, S.J., who challenged the faithful to overcome politically driven mistrust on both sides of the issue, and continue “speaking truth to power on behalf of the defenseless unborn and…loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us.”
The Boston College group walked to the National Mall for the rally before the march. Along the way, they met other pro-lifers, some of who expressed hope for the future of Catholic education upon seeing a pro-life group from Boston College.
The rally began with an invocation from His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon—the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, who is himself a Boston native. His Eminence, Séan Cardinal O’Malley, Cardinal Archbishop of Boston, was among the group of clergy—Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant—on stage for the invocation.
Notable speakers at the rally included House of Representative members, including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Dan Lipinski (D-IL), and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA).
Rep. Beutler shared the story of her daughter Abigail, who had been diagnosed in utero with a fatal deformity and was not expected to survive. Abigail, now healthy four-year-old, interrupted her tearful mother on stage by asking, “Why do you cry?”
Rep. Beutler did not demonize the doctors who recommended the abortion, saying, “They weren’t bad people. They just had never seen a baby with this condition survive. But that’s the point.…What if every baby was given at least a shot to reach their true potential?”
In addition to politicians, former NFL player Matt Birk addressed the crowds with his wife and their seven children, pointing out that “It’s important to remember that those who are pro-abortion, the war is not against them, it’s against the evil of abortion.” Birk encouraged the audience to “come from a place of love and compassion” when talking to those who are pro-abortion.
Sister Bethany Madonna from the Sisters of Life also spoke at the rally. She offered a prayer and discussed the work that the sisters do for the unborn and their mothers. The Sisters will be coming to Boston College later this spring.
President Donald Trump video-conferenced into the Rally from the White House to convey support for the movement. His presence at the rally was divided opinions among the BC Students in attendance. Bianca Passero (LSOE ’19), President of the BC Pro-Life Club said, “Not all pro-lifers are pro-Trump. But I do think that his video-presence at the March gave the movement attention, which it needed.”
Following the rally, students joined the March—which went from the Washington Monument to the steps of the Supreme Court. With the many participants, it took the students about three hours to complete the two-mile walk.
The students then returned on Sunday, January 21st with the energy and knowledge to work to promote the Culture of Life at Boston College and stand for the protection of life from conception to natural death.