March and Rally for Life: Fight with compassion

COLUMBIA—People took to the streets and crowded the front of the Statehouse Jan. 14 in an annual ritual aimed at ending abortion and euthanasia and promoting the pro-life cause in South Carolina.

Organizers estimated the annual Stand Up for Life March and Rally drew about 2,000. Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone offered the opening prayer for the rally. The guest speaker was Texas resident Abby Johnson, author of the book “Unplanned.” Johnson spent eight years working for Planned Parenthood before she left the organization in 2009 to join the pro-life movement.

Johnson said she first started volunteering with Planned Parenthood as a college student, and then took a job as a clinic director. After witnessing an abortion in 2009, she became so upset that she fled work and walked into the offices of a pro-life organization nearby.

“I was crying, I was a mess, a broken person, but from that moment on I felt nothing but forgiveness,” she said. “Those women said the past is the past. That is truly the love of Christ, and that is how we need to reach out to every clinic worker. We need to offer the message that God is bigger than your sin. He is waiting for those who have strayed away from Him to come back.”

Johnson said more churches need to spread the message to people in the pews and reach out to women facing crisis pregnancies, Planned Parenthood workers and others in the abortion industry.

She also reminded people to show Christ’s love to all as they work to end abortion.

“As Christians and as prolifers we are called to love, to reach out in Christ-like compassion, not condemnation,” she said. “We can’t wait for others to do what Christ wants us to do. We need to do it ourselves. Abortion is not a political issue … we are fighting a spiritual battle.”

She said the value of life is “at the core of every issue” facing the country, including the economy.

“As long as there is one baby being destroyed by abortion we will continue to fight,” she said. “If you ever feel discouraged, don’t, because we have the number one guy on our side … Jesus Christ!”

Catholics young and old regularly turn out in large numbers, and this year was no different. The Knights of Columbus led a march from the University of South Carolina campus to the Statehouse. Many people held up banners representing parishes and schools.

The event also drew Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar of Arkansas and four of their 19 children. The family is the subject of “19 Children and Counting,” a reality show on the TLC channel.

On Jan. 13, the Duggars and Johnson also attended the first “Proudly Pro-life Dinner” held at Our Lady of the Hills Church in Columbia, sponsored by Knights of Columbus Council 6892.