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Nebraskans march for life for 32 years


Vera Faith Lord, keynote speaker at this year's Walk for Life in Lincoln on Jan. 29, addresses the pro-life marchers in front of the State Capitol building. Lord spoke about the devastation of her own abortion.
Photo by Greg Schleppenbach

By Greg Schleppenbach
Special to Catholic Voice

"We will stand up … every time human life is threatened," Pope John Paul II said in one of his early visits to America.

For 32 years, people have stood up and marched in the streets of state capitols and our nation's capitol to witness against the abomination of abortion and its legality imposed upon our nation by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 1973 abortion rulings (Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton).

On Saturday, Jan. 29, thousands of Nebraskans came to the State Capitol building in Lincoln to be counted in support of overturning abortion. Participants included mothers, fathers, children, single persons, post-abortive women and men, clergy, laity, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, liberals, moderates and conservatives. Few movements coalesce a greater diversity of people than this cause of restoring legal protection for our unborn brothers and sisters and providing loving support to pregnant mothers and other vulnerable persons in need.

The walk was a culmination of activities beginning on Friday night with a Mass of Reparation for the sin of abortion concelebrated by Lincoln Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz and Grand Island Bishop William Dendinger and priests from around Nebraska.

In his homily, Bishop Dendinger challenged young people to choose fields of study that examine the appropriate interaction of "church and state" and of "faith and science." This is sage advice because both questions have and will continue to impact our efforts to rebuild a civilization of life and love.

The Mass was followed by a presentation on "Unmasking Sexual Con Games" by Laura Buddenberg and Kathy McGee of Girls and Boys Town, a lock-in for high school and college students and all-night Eucharistic Adoration. This is the third year that my office (Bishops' Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities) and the Lincoln Diocese's Youth Ministry Office have sponsored these activities in conjunction with the Walk for Life. While our public witness in support of unborn children and their mothers is important, it is more important that all of our activities be grounded in prayer.

Having gone to this walk for more than 15 years, I sensed a greater feeling of optimism about the direction and future of the pro-life movement. Perhaps it is the growing legions of young people who see the injustice of abortion and who desire truly loving solutions that respect and protect both mother and child.

Perhaps it is the prospect of a political environment more favorable to the pro-life position (something even staunchly pro-abortion Hillary Clinton has acknowledged in a recent speech), and the growing hope that changes to the U.S. Supreme Court could bring about an end to Roe v. Wade. To be clear, overturning this decision would not make abortion illegal throughout the U.S., it would merely return such decision-making ability to each state.

Perhaps our optimism is due to the shifting of public opinion toward the pro-life position. Even the Center for Gender Equality, which supports unlimited abortion, recently released a survey of women showing that, of all the "top priority" issues for the women's movement, "keeping abortion legal" ranked dead last.

As Cathy Cleaver Ruse from the U.S. Bishops' Pro-Life Office said, "Roe v. Wade has been a social experiment on the lives of women and children, but the culture is turning away from abortion. More and more people believe that all children deserve a chance to be born, and that women deserve better than abortion."

Or perhaps it was the growing presence of post-abortive women who, under the banner of Silent No More, are speaking out about how abortion hurt them psychologically, physically, socially and spiritually. This year's keynote speaker, Vera Faith Lord, spoke passionately about the devastation of her own abortion.

At the Vigil Mass before the March for Life in Washington, D.C., Cardinal William Keeler, chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Pro-Life Committee said, "Thirty-two years ago, seven members of the Supreme Court took the issue of abortion out of the hands of the American people and their duly elected lawmakers. They invented a constitutional concept that had never been envisioned; in doing so, they contravened two of our nation's most precious values: the recognition of a God-given, inalienable right to life, and the promise of equal protection under the law."

The cardinal went on to say: "The evil must end. It must end soon! And we are here to affirm that, with God's grace, we must be instruments of its ending!"

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