By TERRI JO RYAN
HILTON HEAD — Beaufort County Sheriff Carl “Mac” McCleod may have been out of uniform Jan. 24, but he was still “on duty.”
He was answering to a higher authority, he said.
“When you’re a Catholic, you gotta stand up for what you know is right,” he said, as he took one end of a banner of Beaufort Citizens for Life, which read, “Choose Life, Your Mom and Dad Did.”
“You just can’t go to Mass on Sunday if it doesn’t stand for nothing,” he said, marching with others in the third annual pro-life rally in Hilton Head.
McLeod and about 250 other islanders and visitors marshaled in the parking lot of Central Church for the short march to the grounds of Hilton Head’s town hall for the rally.
Lead by an honor guard of Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus from Holy Family Church and St. Francis by the Sea, the assembly moved down Business 278, where traffic was stopped for them by deputies.
The mood was jovial: some even brought pets to the gathering.
Mary and Bob Koob of Atlantic City, N.J., who own a villa in Shelter Cove, came to the island’s march, they said, because they missed the main rally in Washington, D.C., this year.
Mary Koob said she noticed an announcement about the rally in the church bulletin of St. Francis by the Sea and contacted Barbara Griswold, a local pro-life spokeswoman.
“It’s just great to see all this,” she said, gesturing toward the crowd, which was made up of many retirees and young families, many with babies in strollers.
She’s been active with Birthright, a New Jersey crisis pregnancy center, for more than 20 years as a volunteer.
Among the dignitaries on hand for the event was Rep. Bob Inglis, a Bluffton native who now serves Greenville in the U.S. House.
Last year, Inglis was the guest speaker at the island’s rally. Although he didn’t speak this year, he said he was glad to stand with the “wonderfully committed people on this issue.”
South Carolina Attorney General Charles Condon, noting that the 25th anniversary of the legalization of abortion occurred on a Thursday, said the 35 million lives snuffed out since then make up the “greatest moral outrage of the 20th Century.”
Noting that advances in neo-natal science have shown that at 20 days of gestation a heartbeat can be detected; and at 40 days, brain waves recorded, abortion is nothing short of murder, Condon said.
“In South Carolina, a fetus is not a blob of tissue. A fetus is a person in our great state,” he said, recounting his rulings on the rights of the unborn. Condon also repeated his promise to prosecute any doctor performing a partial birth abortion for committing “homocide by child abuse.”
Dr. Steven Suits, a pediatric surgeon who is now head of the public policy group Palmetto Family Council, spoke on the clash of two cultures — the battle waged between those who argue for quality of life versus those who make the sanctity of life their calling.
What is lacking in the national conscience today, he said, is the value of life, the sacredness in existence. Suits noted that the Holocaust began in 1930s Germany with the devaluation of the handicapped, the “less than perfect,” the un-productive. In today’s world, where hedonism rules, he said, the mind set that life is not worth living is one cannot maximize pleasure and minimize pain is the prevailing view of those “snookered into the separation of church and state.”
The Rev. Robert Hedtke, pastor of Island Lutheran Church, said that he couldn’t find the sense in federal legislation that makes it a crime to kill an unborn eagle, but decriminalized the death of an unborn human being.
In urging his listeners to speak for those whose voices would be extinguished, he not only quoted from Scripture, but also Dr. Seuss. From “Horton Hears a Who,” he recited, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”