By NANCY SCHWERIN
COLUMBIA — As the sun shined warm on their backs, 2,000 pro-life advocates marched down Main Street in Columbia on Saturday, Jan. 16, to peacefully protest the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton 1973 Supreme Court decisions.
As they rounded the corner onto Gervais Street, their virtually silent protest was met with the ringing voices of Together for Him, a local group of three mothers. From the steps of the Statehouse, the trio filled the street with a world of hope.
In its 25th year the Stand Up for Life March and Rally, organized by the South Carolina Citizens for Life (SCCL), has grown to be the largest pro-life event of the year.
From every corner of the state, people came and stood up for those who can’t defend themselves.
Bishop David B. Thompson offered the opening prayer. Later, Oliver Massey, an elder at Harbison Baptist Church of the Cross in Columbia, gave the closing prayer. Massey and his wife, Sheila, founded African-Americans for Life: Save the Seed.
Deborah Bian-Lingle, president of SCCL, presented some promising and some not-so-promising facts about the abortion rate. “The abortion industry’s promises to alleviate social ills, such as poverty and child abuse, through legal abortion have turned to ash,” she said. “Now, after 26 years of legalized social killing in America, what do we have — besides 37 million dead babies? We have the worst imaginable social problem in our country’s history.
“Our first civil right is the right to life,” Lingle said. She listed the accomplishments of South Carolina pro-life activists, which include passing the Parental Consent Act, the Woman’s Right to Know Act, the Abortion Clinic Regulation Act and the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.
In 1989, the number of abortions peaked at more than 14,000 a year. The number of abortions has dropped to 9,211 by 1997, the latest year for which statistics are available. “That’s more than 22,000 babies lives saved in a nine-year period,” she said.
The pro-life movement has always had the support of past state governors, many of whom made time to speak at the rally. Lingle expressed concern over electing Jim Hodges, a pro-choice advocate, as governor.
“I believe Dr. Wanda Franz, president of the National Right to Life Committee, puts our whole effort in perspective,” Lingle said. “Dr. Franz states, ‘Our charge as pro-lifers is nothing less than to confront, reject and subvert the culture of death and replace it with God’s culture of life.'”
Dana, a solo Christian musician, stirred passion for the movement with her words. The entertainer, pregnant herself, led the crowd, singing, “We’ll do whatever it takes … .”
Following the moving performance, Holly Gatling, executive director of SCCL, presented two special awards in honor of the march’s 25th anniversary. Bishop Thompson was awarded the Bishop for Life award in honor of his 10-year commitment supporting the movement.
Each year a Volunteer of the Year Award is given, but this year Kathleen Poole received the Volunteer for Life award. She has served the pro-life movement in South Carolina for 25 years.
The Rev. Peter Marshall, son of the late Peter Marshall, chaplain to the U.S. Senate, was the featured speaker. Marshall is a national speaker with his Peter Marshall Ministries. The focus of the ministry is the revival of morality in America and the role of the Christian in the political process.
Marshall began by saying, “The moral and spiritual crisis we are in is growing worse each day. Abortion is the greatest rejection of the moral and spiritual basis that America was founded on years ago.
“Ours is the only government in world history founded on a statement of faith — on the biblical principles of self government,” he said.
He went further in saying that abortion was a rejection of the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
“Dead human beings do not have rights, that’s why the right to life matters most of all,” he said
Holding the Bible over his head, he said, “This Bible tells me every human being bares the image of God, therefore every human life is sacred,” Marshall declared. “If every human life is sacred, valued by God, then it should be by us.”
He presented a sobering statistic that 43 percent of women will have had an abortion by the age of 45 if the current rate continues. That’s one of every 2.3 people you meet. But he also offered some encouraging figures. In 86 percent of counties in America it is not possible to attain an abortion, fewer and fewer doctors are performing abortions and fewer and fewer medical schools are teaching the procedure.
“We haven’t won the war, yet, but I think the tide is starting to turn,” said Marshall.
He asked, “Where do we get hope from? Primarily our hope comes from this book (Bible). And how do we know who will win?” he queried once again. “We have read the back of the book, and we know who wins.”
In closing his speech, Marshall paraphrased from Galatians: “Let us not grow weary in well-doing for he will bless your efforts.”