COLUMBIA—Two thousand people representing many ages, ethnic backgrounds and religious denominations marched and rallied at the State House steps Jan. 12 to speak out for the sanctity for life at the annual Stand Up for Life March and Rally.
This year’s event held a special urgency and poignancy because it commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in 1973.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone offered the opening prayer for the rally, just as he did in 2012. The keynote speaker was Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee based in Washington, D.C.
Tobias said the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade was a mournful milestone for the nation.
“How different our country would be today if those 20- or 30-somethings who were the victims of abortion were around, working and having kids of their own,” she said.
She said supporters of the pro-life cause have reason to be hopeful because of an increasing number of laws restricting abortion, increased awareness about the issue, and statistics that show the number of abortions decreasing, including in South Carolina.
She noted that even though abortion has been legal for 40 years, the topic is still not readily discussed in most news media or in general conversation.
“This country still deep down knows that killing an unborn child is wrong,” she said. “…Most Americans don’t want tax dollars used for abortions and greater and greater numbers of young people, the post Roe generation, are against abortion on demand. That’s because young people know they have lost peers, part of their generation. The right to life movement offers help, while abortion offers only destruction of future generations.”
Tobias also praised people who work in crisis pregnancy centers and other programs that offer help to women dealing with unplanned pregnancies, and encouraged others concerned about life to share their message with love and compassion.
In one of the day’s most memorable lines, Tobias said she know that with the size of the crowd that turned out, there were more than likely women present who had abortions in the past, and she wanted them to know they were among people who cared about them and their experience.
“Carol was an enormously encouraging speaker, and I think people left feeling uplifted and positive about the pro-life movement in general,” said Holly Gatling, president of the S.C. Citizens for Life, Inc., primary organizer of the event. “Her speech was compassionate but full of factual information.”
In recent years, there has been a concerted effort to increase the presence of Catholic young people at the event, and this was no exception. An estimated 1,200 youth and chaperones from parishes around the state took part at the State House, and then walked over to the Township Auditorium for a special pro-life rally of their own which included live music, guest speakers and Mass celebrated by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone.