Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Thorner: Chicago’s 10th Annual March for Life attracts over 4,000 participants

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Chicago Bears’ owner Pat McCaskey declared his support for life Sunday

By Nancy Thorner – 

For the 10th year, the Annual March for Life in Chicago was held Sunday, January 18 to commemorate what is now the 42nd year since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe vs Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Chicago Bears’ owner Pat McCaskey and Congressmen Dan Lipinski and Peter Roskam were featured speakers.

This year’s march was on a beautiful day in contrast to the brutally cold weather that greeted participants of last year’s rally. Because of the relatively mild weather, the attendance at Sunday’s rally set a record, 4,000 strong.

Chicago’s Federal Plaza at 50 W. Adam, where the rally began, overflowed with participants holding yellow balloons distributed for the occasion, and signs, if not homemade, were readily available. The signs were  proudly displayed and held high, as participants walked the few blocks from the Federal Plaza to the James R. Thompson Center to continue the second half of the rally. The ralliers marched to the beat of drums and joyful singing, with policemen on motorcycles shepherding the marchers through the streets of Chicago.

Orthodox church leaders, such as the Right Reverend Anthony, Bishop of Toledo, and the Right Reverend Paul, Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest, set the mood for the afternoon with their opening prayers. As alluded to “One can either believe they come from someone or come from no one.  Life does matter as a creation of God, and not if life is foreign to God.”

Initial greetings were extended to the assembled by a vibrant and attractive Mary Louise Kurey Hengesbaugh, who as Miss Wisconsin of 1999, is the author “Standing with Courage: Confronting Tough Decisions about Sex.”

Time after time Ms. Hengesbaugh, who served as Master of Ceremonies at both the Federal Plaza and Daily Plaza, asked this question, “Chicago, are you prolife?”  The response was always a resounding “YES!”

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First to speak at Daley Plaza was Chicago’s three generation pro-life team, the Scheidlers.  With Eric Scheidler, Executive Director of the Pro-Life Action, was his dad, Joe Scheidler, who is known fondly as the “grandfather of the pro-life movement,” and Eric’s son, Sam Scheidler. The traditional black fedora was on full display by Joe Scheidler and son Eric. (Surely Eric Scheidler’s son, Sam, will don a fedora by next year as he follows in the footsteps of his grandfather and father.)

Eric Scheidler asked each participant to commit one hour a week to praying outside an abortion clinic. With 551 abortion clinics in the U.S., most have never been visited by a pro-life activist, he said.

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Pro-life Pastor Mark Jobe of New Life Community Church spoke on behalf of the 65 million unborn children not able to raise voices of their own. He asked the crowd to remember that God is the one who opens and closes the womb. Pastor Jobe then spoke about the birth of his three children and how he and his wife were told that their 3rd child would be born with some from of abnormality. Aborting was not an option, for the Divine Law informs that every human being is born with dignity in the image of God. Despite the doctors’ warnings, Jobe’s third child was born healthy and at 15, stood at his dad’s side.

The New Archbishop of Chicago, Blaise Cupich, was firm in his support of Chicago’s March for Life.  He said being at the rally was a signal that we will all walk with a mother that might be afraid or poor.  “I’m proud to be able to walk with people who are concerned about the protection of human life from the first moment of conception to the last moment of natural death,” he said.

Always impressive, Dr. Erwin Lutzer, senior pastor of Chicago’s Moody Church, read a letter from a young girl who wished she had not had an abortion, but she had no place to go and no alternative. Dr. Lutzer questioned how many would be willing to help young girls and women who don’t have a place to live, further emphasizing that the pro-life community must be willing to help those in need.

As the final speaker at opening rally at Federal Plaza, Katie Melody, president of Loyola Students for Life, spoke passionately about how abortion hurts her generation the most. Her fellow students have all come of age when destroying the life of a pre-born is considered the normal thing to do.  Accordingly, her generation are all survivors of the culture of death, she said.

Without missing a beat, rally participants marched the several blocks to the James R. Thompson Center, mostly disregarding the pro-abortion protesters along the way. A joyful atmosphere prevailed, unlike the grim faces  and angry words that came from the protesters.

Sandra Hiltebrand was ready to address the reassembled pro-lifers at the Thompson Center.  Standing with Sandra Hiltebrand was her daughter Julie Cooper, and her granddaughter, Mary Cooper, representing three generations of pro-lifers. They shared the importance of having profound respect for the culture of life from conception until natural death. “Life is precious,” Hiltebrand said. “We are created in the likeness of God.”

Chenelle Moore presented a moving testimony about what having an abortion did to her.  As a young woman, Moore went to Planned Parenthood for help, and had an abortion on Feb. 19, 2011.  Along with her child dying, a part of Chenelle also died, she said. For Chenelle, it was important to let others know they are not alone, that help is out there.

As pro-life is a bi-partisan issue, two pro-life U.S. congressman were featured, one Democrat and one Republican.

Representative Dan Lipinski (D -IL 3) joined the crowd across party lines and generations, to uphold the dignity of all human beings.  Congressman Lipinski announced that this week Congress would be passing an abortion ban of 20 weeks after gestation.

Congressman Peter Roskam (R – IL 6) shared a post from his daughter’s social media blog after attending last year’s March for Life event.  The year-old post of Roskam’s daughter, encouraged his daughter’s college friend to seek help and choose life for her unplanned baby.

Chicago Bears’ co-owner Pat McCaskey was greeted enthusiastically as a fellow pro-lifer as he approached the podium.  McCaskey displayed creativity, with a sprinkling of humor, as he read his pro-life adaption of Tennyson’s poem, “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” naming his Tennyson version, “March of the Brigade.”

A fitting finale for this year’s March for Life Chicago event was Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood manager.

Abby Johnson spoke of her checkered childhood during which her parents never gave up on her. Abby believes that no one is beyond conversion through the power of God.  Abortion was noted as a human rights issue. When Abby came to a pregnancy crisis center, Aid for Women was there for her.  Upon seeing pictures of her baby, the future of Abby’s life was changed. Her child Max, is now an amazing gift to her life.

Looking around the rally sites were pro-life citizens of all ages and ethnic backgrounds who were drawn together to tell Chicago that life matters.  Participants came from throughout the state of Illinois and from the neighboring states of Wisconsin and Indiana. It was harkening to see so many like-minded individuals gathered together, in what will surely provide a source of inspiration to go out and spread the word that the sanctity of human life does matter from conception to death.

May next year’s Life for March Chicago rally top this year’s outstanding one. This can happen, for as expressed by several of the

speakers, more and more young people are becoming pro-life, as they contemplate who might be missing as fellow classmates had abortion not been the chosen option?

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Photos by Barrett Weadick of Wauconda

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