By KATHY SCHMUGGE
COLUMBIA — An estimated 2,000 pro-lifers peacefully marched to the Statehouse on Jan. 13; some were praying the rosary, others singing songs of praise, while others simply enjoyed the beautiful day of sunshine God gave them. The diverse crowds were unified in their mission of love, a love for everyone especially those without a voice.
No one has been more persistent in conveying that message of love than South Carolina Citizens for Life (SCCL) and USC Students for Life, who sponsored the 27th Annual Stand Up for Life March and Rally.
Executive Director Holly Gatling, who is a parishioner at St. Anthony Church in Florence, describes the event as “a civil rights rally where people gather in solidarity, supporting efforts made to protect innocent human life from conception to natural death.”
Lisa VanRiper, president of SCCL, presented evidence that their prayers and efforts have had successes seen through promising statistics and the passing of a number of pro-life legislation in the state such as the Parental Consent Act, Human Life Protection Act, A Woman’s Right to Know Act and the Partial Birth Abortion Ban. “Abortion is down by 45 percent in South Carolina, 19 percent nationwide, but we can do better,” said VanRiper, who, while recognizing the progress, knows more must be done before the rally’s theme, “Roe no More” can be fully realized.
She mentioned how Planned Parenthood of South Carolina, a pro-abortion organization, has a budget 10 times that of SCCL, and where SCCL depends solely on private donation, Planned Parenthood receives federal money and corporate grants. For that reason, the love offering at the rally helps keep SCCL’s doors opened.
As always, the rally had inspiring speakers and guests such as Bishop Robert J. Baker, Attorney General Charlie Condon, Miss South Carolina Heather Hudson, and pro-life government officials. The widow and four sons of deceased State Rep. Terry Haskins received an award in honor of their late husband and father.
The guest speaker, Norma McCorvey, who was the defendant “Roe” in the Roe vs. Wade case, now a pro-life speaker, had an attentive audience as she began her talk by publicly apologizing for her role in the legalization of abortion. She spoke about her complete conversion and how she is “glad to be 100 percent pro-life in every situation.”
McCorvey attributes her conversion to Christianity to an 8-year-old girl, Emily, the daughter of someone from Operation Rescue.
“One day I looked up at Emily and I saw unconditional love. I saw that peace in this child’s heart. I saw the forgiveness of everything that you could possibly think of through her eyes,” she added, “I thank God for giving me a second chance because not everyone gets a second chance.”
The journey of faith she described was not without pain. As soon as she began to question aspects of abortion, she was brutally ridiculed and eventually ostracized by the pro-abortion community who once embraced her. In her quest for truth and belonging, she eventually found herself at the footsteps of the Catholic Church, where she has been a member since 1998.