by Grace Sall
“Love them both.” “Love Saves Lives.” “Choose Adoption.” “I am the Pro-life Generation.” More than 100,000 youths and adults held signs adorned with these messages on Jan. 19. These activists traveled from across the country for the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. Eight Marian students traveled by bus for the rally, along with English teacher and Marian Students For Life (MSFL) moderator Mrs. Amy Bauman. They traveled along with Roncalli students and the St. Patrick’s youth group in a bus that was part of the Omaha Archdiocesan group.
With weather in the 50s on the day of the March, the Marian students sported neon yellow hats with a variety of signs promoting the dignity of all life, especially the unborn. The theme of this year’s march was “Love Saves Lives.” Signs included messages of hope and love such as “Love them both” and others bearing witness to personal experiences. Since Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in all 50 states, passed on Jan. 22, 1974, Americans have made the journey to Washington and Capitol Hill to protest.
Sophomore Meredith Mueller was inspired by the vast crowds of people in attendance. “Hundreds of thousands of people, especially the younger generation, were at the March standing up for the unborn babies and praying in unity for the mothers and babies. It was so eye-opening and hard to accept the fact that 60 million innocent babies have been killed in America in the past 44 years. It was awesome to see so many people in my generation there because that really means that abortion will be stopped soon,” Mueller said.
The intent of the March was not to condemn those who sought out abortions, but rather, to address support for the unborn as well as mothers in need. Sophomore Kaitlyn Tiojanco said the most meaningful part of the March for her was “standing outside a Planned Parenthood building and not protesting or yelling at the people, but praying for them and hoping that God will give them grace to do the right thing,” Tiojanco said.
Despite the large number of people in attendance at the annual March, the three major television news outlets of ABC, NBC and CBS covered the March for a combined 2 minutes and six seconds according to a study from the Media Research Center, three times less than the 2018 Women’s March. President Donald Trump also addressed the marchers via live-stream.
“The media isn’t really interested in religiously-motivated stories. Our world is increasingly so secular, but there are truly devout, faith-filled people who want to make change for good,” Bauman said.
Bauman described the entire experience as incredibly meaningful, carrying with her the sense that “life is very good,” Bauman said. The crowds on the day of the March were vast, and she said the group stood shoulder to shoulder trying to navigate around people. Bauman said the rally on the night before the March was inspiring. “I almost started crying, mostly for the Marian girls that came with me who were able to experience this,” Bauman said.
Senior Grace Nelson carried her experience at the March back home and would be interested in going again in college and beyond. “It was so moving and inspiring and it helped me grow closer in my faith and help me stand up for something I believe in,” Nelson said.
In addition to rallies and the March, the Marian group had the opportunity to see many other historical sites in D.C., such as the Capital Building, the Washington Monument, White House, Vietnam War Memorial, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and the Holocaust Memorial.
The night before the March, they also attended a youth rally at the Capital One Arena. This rally included adoration and confession, a variety of speakers from various pro-life groups and advocates such as the Feminists for Life, Sister Miriam James Heidland, high school and college students, as well as a concert from Christian artists.
One speaker was Jaime Herrera Beutler, a member of the House of Representatives from southwest Washington’s third district. Beutler spoke about her first child, whom she had while serving in Congress, born with potter syndrome. Potter syndrome develops when a baby in the uterus does not have kidneys, and many doctors advised Beutler to seek an abortion as the baby would not survive. But Beutler and her husband prayed for a miracle, and at the rally on the night before the March, her daughter Abigail stood hand in hand with her mother, waving.
The mother of Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow also spoke on the day of the March about her experience carrying her son. He developed in her uterus with a tumor and doctors urged abortion, saying there would be little hope for his survival.
In the coming years, MSFL hopes to send more Marian students to Washington, D.C. who would like the opportunity to participate in the March. In addition, they hope to promote coverage of the March on social media and at school. “You’re not going to win people over by reacting with hatred, but with love and compassion,” Bauman said about promoting the pro-life message of support.
All the students from the 2018 trip recommended that anyone considering the trip should go for it. “You get to meet so many cool people and get to stand up for something that is right. Be prepared to have the time of your life,” Nelson said.