With government-controlled healthcare looming on the national horizon, this year’s observances have taken added significance as debate rages over the extent to which abortion will be funded under a federalized health system.
In the days leading up to marches planned to observe the Roe v. Wade decision, pro-life leaders and activists gathered in key cities around the nation to spotlight the issue and to focus on the massive expansion of abortion and other anti-life measures that would come with a full-blown federal healthcare plan.
“America’s March for Life is now the world’s March for Life,” said Joseph Meaney, a spokesman for Human Life International (HLI), at a rally in Virginia. “It has become the world’s pro-life protest because of the aggressive promotion of abortion and population control that is now official policy of the United States, thanks to the administration of President Barack Obama.”
In Houston, pro-life supporters gathered on January 18 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day) outside the construction site of a Planned Parenthood facility that is slated to become one of the largest abortion clinics in the world. Lou Engle, president of a pro-life effort known as The Call, noted that the six-story abortion “super center” is located in the center of a Houston neighborhood that is predominantly Hispanic and African-American — two racial minorities that have been heavily targeted by the abortion industry.
“As Martin Luther King Jr. would proclaim it,” said Engle, “it is time to ‘subpoena the conscience’ of the nation” concerning the tragedy of abortion. “Maybe Houston could become the Birmingham of our day to let the unborn go free and spare the pregnant mother the agony of guilt.”
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, noted that the Houston clinic will likely serve as a “prototype for so-called ‘preventative care’” called for in President Obama’s healthcare blueprint. “Already, Planned Parenthood is counting the millions, if not billions, of dollars the organization will receive under the current Obama plan.”
The official January 22 Walk for Life in Washington D.C., which has taken place annually since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, is expected to draw participants from around the nation and world. As an expected 250,000 pro-life supporters gather before the U.S. Supreme Court Building, similar rallies will be conducted in such locales as Chicago, New York City, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles.
March for Life President Nellie J. Gray told a reporter for Charisma magazine that this year’s participants are making a bold call for America’s public servants to “Stand Up” for life. She noted that Congress and the Supreme Court “must understand that by allowing abortion in America they are responsible for about 3,000 pre-born boys and girls being killed every day.”
She added that President Obama “should understand that in the first year of his Administration approximately one million pre-born boys and girls have been killed.”
In addition to nationwide pro-life rallies, a “Viritual March for Life” will be hosted January 22 by the group Americans United for Life (AUL). Participants can go to the organization’s website and register to join such national leaders as Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and James Dobson in a “virtual” rally for life on Capitol Hill.
AUL’s president Charmaine Yoest noted that the present healthcare bill before Congress makes participating in this year’s observance of Roe v. Wade important for all who value life. “We created the Virtual March for Life to encourage people to be here tomorrow and to give voice to countless Americans who can't be in Washington but wish they could,” she said. “We are encouraging everyone to click and be heard.”
Dr. Patti Giebink, a South Dakota physician who during the mid-1990s worked for Planned Parenthood as the state’s only abortion doctor, told The New American that pro-life individuals should keep in mind the important role compassion and mercy can play in reaching out to those working in the abortion industry. She said that those elements will do more than all the rhetoric they can muster to change minds and hearts.
“It’s not difficult for me to have compassion for people performing abortions,” she pointed out. “I understand the motivation they have to do what they do,” she said. “I was there once myself.”
Asked how pro-life individuals can be most effective in reaching out to abortion providers, Dr. Giebink said, “Love them and pray for them. Any language that communicates hate or judgment is just not going to work. Remember, most of those performing abortions think what they are doing is right. I know I did. My change came as God worked on my heart, and as others prayed for me.”
Reflecting back on the abortions she performed, Dr. Giebink said, “My heart grieves for the lives left unlived. I cannot bring back the lives I ended. But I know God has forgiven me. Now I know the truth, and I can speak it to others in love.”
Photo by John Stephen Dwyer