Liveblogging the March for Life

(By Americans United for Life Action guest blogger Dawn Eden at www.virtualMarchforLife.com)

Welcome to AUL Action’s Virtual March for Life liveblog. We’ll be blogging here to give commentary and online sources for more information on the people and groups featured in the EWTN live feed of the 37th annual March for Life rally.

12:01 p.m.: March for Life President Nellie Gray takes the stage at the rally.

12:03 p.m.: Nellie Gray introduces Right Rev. Martyn Minns, missionary bishop, Convocation of Anglicans in North America, to give the opening prayer. The CANA Convocation Web site quotes Bishop Minns and his wife on the sanctity of life:

Leading by example, Bishop Martyn and Mrs. Angela Minns have ministered faithfully for the poor, disadvantaged and unborn for many years, both in the United States and overseas. Diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome, their daughter Rachel’s ministry is also a testimony honoring the sanctity of human life and the quality of life one can experience when devoted to serving God.

“I do not want the public to believe the lie that so-called ‘handicapped’ children and adults cannot add to the life of communities. In our travels all over the world these individuals have added so much joy and are very hard working. Most ordinary people do not let them have a chance, but in CANA churches they are encouraged to take their place in the Body of Christ at the local church,” said Angela Minns.

Echoing his wife’s sentiment for the pro-life cause, Bishop Minns professed in a Washington Post column last fall: “It is in the Bible where you will discover the truth that every human life is of inestimable worth.”

12:10 p.m.: Nellie Gray: “The theme for the March for Life this year is ‘Stand Up Now.’”

12:12 p.m.: Gray: “We must unite on the Life Principles so that we know why we are coming to Washington.” She is reciting some of the Life Principles, which include:

We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all human beings are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which is the right to life, and therefore the right to life of each human being shall be preserved and protected by every human being in the society and by the society as a whole. [See full list of Life Principles on the March for Life Web site.]

12:16 p.m.: Gray: “The March for Life has written a letter to the President.” She may be referring to the letter that is on the March for Life’s Web site, which says in part:

History tells us that this duty to protect the right to life of each human in existence at fertilization was not always carried out as it should have been. Our own country suffers the evils of slavery, the Nazi era, and more. Both church and state officials often apologize today for past errors when heinous things were done and when necessary proper things were not done. Abortion evil in America is error which officials and citizenry of both church and state have a duty to stop and can unite to stop. The dreadful killing goes on because abortionists and media keep the innocent blood of preborns out-of-sight, which keeps many Americans so passive to the evil of killing that they tolerate or even support a choice to murder preborns. Killing innocents is a crime against humanity as we learn from principles used by Americans in judging at the Nuremberg Trials. There is no common ground or “moderate” position between “to kill or not to kill.”

12:28 p.m.: Silent No More Awareness Campaign co-founder Georgette Forney takes the platform.

12:34 p.m.: A woman in the crowd is holding an Israeli flag. The chief rabbis in Israel have expressed alarm at the abortions in that country, as LifeNews reported last month:

The top two Jewish rabbis in Israel sent a letter on Monday to their colleagues denouncing abortion. They said that abortion kills thousands of Israeli babies a year and delays the coming of the Messiah and they promised to do more to promote pro-life and pregnancy help efforts.

Rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar sent a letter yesterday to all of the state-employed Jewish rabbis saying they would “strengthen” the efforts of the pro-life council in the rabbinate to help reduce abortions.

The letter says “the vast majority of abortions are unnecessary and Halacha [Jewish law] severely prohibits them” and says as many as 50,000 abortions are done annually in Israel.

12:35 p.m.: Denise Cocciolone of the National Life Center is speaking. Online at pregnancycenters.org, they operate a hotline, 800-848-LOVE, for women experiencing crisis pregnancies. She says that when pregnant women considering an abortion are able to see an ultrasound of their unborn child, 90 percent of them will choose life.

12:39 p.m.: Brother Paul O’Donnell O.F.M.: “President Obama, we need to dialogue. When he was a U.S. Senator, he said his worst regret was to save the life of Terri Schiavo. We will not forget the life of Terri Schiavo.”

12:42 p.m.: Bobby Schindler, brother of Terri, takes the stage. “Your ongoing support is vital to us so that we can continue to protect the profoundly brain-injured.” He announces that country stars Randy Travis and Colin Ray are to perform the first annual Terri Schiavo Life & Hope concert on April 11 in Indianapolis. Learn more at LifeAndHopeConcert.org.

12:46 p.m.: EWTN’s Teresa Tomeo is interviewing Abby Johnson, who until just a few months ago was directing a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Texas. She is buoyant to be at her first March for Life. Read the amazing story of her conversion to the pro-life cause on the 40 Days for Life blog.

12:50 p.m.: Abby Johnson: “Planned Parenthood are abortion-minded all of the time,” regardless of what percentage of its so-called services are abortions. She says Planned Parenthood is all about money, and abortions are what bring the money in. (For more on this topic, see AUL Action’s press release “AUL Action Challenges Planned Parenthood to Reveal Financial Interest in Health Care Legislation.”)

12:55 p.m.: Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) is speaking. It is his tenth March for Life. Speaking on how deliverance often comes from strange quarters, he says, “The socialized medicine bill was a big threat to life, and deliverance came from a very strange quarter indeed–Massachusetts.”

12:57 p.m.: Rep. Joseph Cao (R-La.) says: “Abortion is the moral issue of our time.”

12:59 p.m.: Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kansas) says his wife couldn’t make it to the march, but her avatar is present at the Virtual March for Life. “Let’s move forward and change the laws of this land.”

1:00 p.m.: Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.): “President Obama … we pray for you, and we will fast for you, even as we tenaciously fight your anti-life policies.”

1:02 p.m.: Smith: “President Obama, is it really so hard to understand that abortion is violence against children? … Abortion isn’t health care.” (For more on why abortion isn’t health care, see AUL Action’s RealHealthCareRespectsLife.com.)

1:05 p.m.: The women from Silent No More Awareness, standing behind the March for Life speakers, holding signs stating “I Regret My Abortion,” are a powerful witness to the pain caused by the termination of unborn human life. Read their testimonies on the Silent No More Awareness Web site.

1:08 p.m.: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) is giving a moving speech. He has spoken before at the March, including a 2008 speech in which he said:

We’re here not too far from where one great American, Martin Luther King, Jr., said he had a dream. He dreamed that “little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.” But they will have to be born to do that.

Thank you for keeping the Dream alive that one day all God’s children, red, yellow, brown, black, and white, born and unborn, will have at least the chance to one day take in this air and say the words on the capstone there on top of the Washington Monument that says, “Praise be to God.” God bless all of you for coming.

1:12 p.m.: Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio): “We’ve got the truth on our side, and we live in the greatest nation in history.”

1:15 p.m.: Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa): “Say, is there anybody here from Massachusetts? Thank you, Massachusetts! Thank you for helping us kill that anti-life bill! … This is our teachable moment to the White House. Mr. President, at what instant did your life begin? We believe it began at the moment of conception for you, Mr. President, and for all of God’s children, and we believe that human life is sacred in all of its forms.”

1:18 p.m.: Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.): “Through your efforts … a majority of the American nation is pro-life. And yet, in the shadows of the Capitol, we can see that, there, a majority of the politicians are pro-abortion.” Reminds the nation of what Lincoln quoted (paraphrasing Matthew 12:25): “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

1:22 p.m.: Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) is recalling how Cincinnati, which in her home district, helped to birth the right-to-life movement. “I tell you that, because every one of us has the power to make a difference. … Thank you for your courage, your dedication, and, most of all, for loving America and loving Our Lord. God bless you, God bless the United States of America, and God protect the unborn.” (For anyone who feels left out by Rep. Schmidt’s statement, take comfort–there exists an Atheist and Agnostic Pro-Life League.)

1:24 p.m.: Rabbi Yehuda Levin of Jews for Morality is speaking. “To Congress and the Administration, we declare today: Don’t you dare even think about forcing us, God’s people, to be co-executioners of his holy innocents!”

1:27 p.m.: Rabbi Levin says that if politicians try to put abortion in health care, “Massachusetts will look like a picnic.” Urges pro-lifers to write millions of letters to the Supreme Court. “They read their mail.” (AUL Senior Counsel Clarke Forsythe’s book Politics for the Greatest Good is an excellent resource for those interested in learning how the Supreme Court took abortion law outside the power of American voters.)

1:33 p.m.: Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, chairman of the USCCB Pro-Life Committee, takes the stage. He is introducing his fellow Catholic bishops who are at the rally. Among them is Bishop Gregory Mansour of the Eparchy of St. Maron in Brooklyn, N.Y., one of the country’s Maronite dioceses. Bishop Mansour has said of his eparchy’s pro-life work: “We are a Church with the all the rights and responsibilities of preaching the Gospel, the fullness of the gospel — not the comfortable gospel but the whole Gospel of Life.”

1:39 p.m.: Father John Kowalczyk is introducing the Orthodox Church prelates who are present at the march, including Metropolitan Jonah, who takes the stage. A pro-life Web page on the Orthodox Church of America’s Web site states:

Members are also encouraged to pray daily to intercede:

• That our hierarchs, priests and faithful may have wisdom to speak out effectively against these evils,

• That our parish communities may reach out to share our resources on behalf of those under siege from the Culture of Death,

• For pregnant women in crisis that they may find grace and support to bring their babies to term,

• For strength and insight for pro-life workers to protect the helpless,

• For the babies that they may come to safe delivery and to Christian nurture in a loving home,

• For abortion providers to cease their practice and come to repentance,

• For the ill and the elderly that they may live out their days surrounded by care and attention.

1:44 p.m.: Metropolitan Jonah says: “As Christians, as people of faith, we have to stand not only for the right to life, but for that infinite potential for repentance, for healing … and to put forth that message for those who have gone through the hell of abortion, that they can be healed.” He notes that it is only out of despair that a woman would be moved to take the life of her child, and urges pro-lifers to reach out to women who have suffered abortions.

1:48 p.m.: Pastor Luke Robinson of Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church is speaking: “President Obama and the members of his political party could have put together a reasonable reform that would have benefited the whole nation. … Let America not be deceived. It was their resistance to dropping the funding of the killing of children is why there is no health care [reform] for us today.” (Keep up with the ongoing health care debate on Capitol Hill via AUL Action’s RealHealthCareRespectsLife.com.)

1:58 p.m.: Retired Bishop John M. D’Arcy of Fort Wayne, Ind., is closing the program at the rally. Bishop D’Arcy boycotted the Notre Dame commencement last year because of the pro-abortion policies of the event’s speaker and honoree, President Obama. He said in a statement at the time: “This will be the 25th Notre Dame graduation during my time as bishop. After much prayer, I have decided not to attend the graduation. I wish no disrespect to our president, I pray for him and wish him well. I have always revered the Office of the Presidency. But a bishop must teach the Catholic faith ‘in season and out of season,’ and he teaches not only by his words — but by his actions. My decision is not an attack on anyone, but is in defense of the truth about human life.” [Read the full statement.]

2:13 p.m.: As the marchers take their places, EWTN is interviewing pro-life doctors. Rights of conscience for health care providers is one of the key issues for Americans United for Life, as you can read in our legislative guide Defend Life 2009.

2:55 p.m.: Here are some of the faces in the march carrying Virtual March for Life placards. The young woman in the top photo came all the way from Canada to stand up for life.