Residents journey to March for Life
BY DAVID O'CONNOR, Staff Writer
WASHINGTON -- "One day we will be here in triumph," former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum told the chilled faithful at the March for Life here Friday.
Anne Marie DiCarlo smiled.
"Just being here, I hope, makes a statement," the Pequea Township resident said while standing on the frozen National Mall with her teenage son, Ben.
She was among hundreds of Lancaster countians who braved the snow and cold to protest legalized abortion in the United States at the 40th annual pro-life event. The event attracted tens of thousands of people, according to the New York Times.
"I feel it's so important to go, because somebody truly has to stand up for the unborn," West Hempfield Township's Jane Abbott said. "Because, if their mothers want to abort them, then they have no one."
This was her third trip to a March for Life, the 65-year-old Abbott said, and the Boston-area native now wishes she had attended earlier. "The fact that it's legal, I feel, is the worst part of it. It's kind of considered a right by many people, so now I just wish I had started 20 years ago."
Fran Redman of Columbia was a student at Catholic University back in 1974 when she attended an initial protest rally against legalized abortion. The U.S. Supreme Court had decided the landmark Roe v. Wade case a year earlier.
Redman, now 60, went to Friday's rally to be what she called a "silent witness" on behalf of the unborn.
"We just have to keep faithful and have hope" that abortion in the U.S. will be overturned, she said.
She was aboard one of five buses that left St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Rohrerstown on Friday morning. A total of nine buses went from the county.
Janice Russoniello of Manheim Township came to "change hearts and minds, and stand up for the unborn, who have no voice.
"In our country it's very precious to protect the rights of people and the rights of classes of people, but yet the unborn, because they have no voice and are somewhat unseen, are always left defenseless."
At the rally, the new president of March for Life, Jeanne Monahan, declared that "abortion truly is the human-rights abuse of today, and abortion is not good for women."
She took the helm for 2013 from the event's longtime beloved leader, Nellie Gray, who died in August.
A video tribute to Gray was shown during the 90-minute rally and drew maybe the largest ovation of the event.
Later, many of those at the rally took part in a procession over to the adjoining Supreme Court building for a subsequent rally.
Some of the speakers, and a few signs, were critical of President Barack Obama.
"Stop the Obama abortion agenda!" one sign read.
A sign above the stage at Friday's rally stated "40 equals 55 million," or the number of babies aborted in the U.S. in the last 40 years.
Some of the local residents later lobbied Pennsylvania's two U.S. senators, Democrat Robert Casey Jr. and Republican Pat Toomey, asking for help for their cause.
Local march organizer Rosie Gross was encouraged by both the turnout on such a blustery day and by the number of young people who took part.
One was Frank Russoniello, 18, a senior at Manheim Township High School. "It was cold! But it was cool to see so many people gathering, and some of them my age, for such a good cause."
His favorite part of the event, he said, was the marching, unified, over to the Supreme Court.
Veteran organizer Gross, of Lancaster Township, always hopes for one thing when she leaves the nation's capital at rally's end: "At the end of the day, I always hope it's the last march we have to make," she said late Friday. "But if it's not, we'll be back here until this American holocaust has ended."
Some marchers spoke for the need, they said, for a human-rights amendment in Congress to ensure the right to life, as well as overturning Roe v. Wade. Several others told how they miss longtime march president Gray, a lawyer and Texas native who was a champion of the pro-life movement.
One Lancaster-area participant, noting how some polls indicate less support for the pro-life side, said she wasn't in Washington to change anyone's mind on abortion. She was going to make sure leaders know how she and others feel. But it's up to God to change hearts, and she prays for that, she said.