COLUMBIA—Hundreds of people took to the streets of downtown Columbia on Jan. 9 for the annual Stand Up for Life march and rally.
The weather was cloudy and chilly, but a welcome relief from freezing temperatures and downpours the marchers had encountered in recent years.
The Knights of Columbus led the procession from the University of South Carolina campus to the Statehouse.
Behind them trailed a crowd that included families with babies and children, senior citizens, people pushing loved ones in wheel-chairs, students from USC and Clemson, and hundreds of Catholic youth.
Many Catholic churches were represented with bright colorful banners. Others carried signs representing Baptist, Lutheran and non-denominational churches, plus people from area Orthodox churches also marched.
Holly Gatling of the South Carolina Citizens for Life, which organizes the event, estimated the crowd at about 1,000, similar to the 2015 event.
When people arrived at the Statehouse, many of the marchers climbed the steps and stood there while others crowded around a podium set up at the base of the steps. Father Jeffrey Kirby offered the opening prayer, and gospel singers performed sacred music.
The keynote speakers were Al and Lisa Robertson from the popular A&E show “Duck Dynasty.” Al Robertson, a minister, is playfully known as the “beardless son” of Phil Robertson, patriarch of the Louisiana family made famous by their signature duck calls and trademark beards. Al and Lisa, like others in the family, are well known for their public commitment to their Christian faith.
The couple shared a painful story with the crowd that was also recently revealed in their book “A New Season.”
Lisa said she had an abortion when she was 16 and still grieves her decision.
“I am now almost 50 years old and not a day goes by that I don’t regret it,” she said. “It has taught me that we have to love that baby inside a mom’s womb because every life is worth saving. It doesn’t matter how it came into existence — God gave that life to us. And we also have to show love to women who have had abortions and now regret it. We need to teach real love, forgiveness, grace and mercy.”
Both Robertsons urged attendees to have the courage to stand up for the truth of God’s teachings about love and relationships between a man and woman, to promote abstinence and the sanctity of life at all costs.
Al also specifically encouraged people to promote the importance of adoption.
“In order to be pro-life you must also be pro-adoption,” he said. “The Bible says we were adopted in Christ and we need to be out there helping children find good homes.”
Speakers also urged the crowd to contact their legislators in support of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortions in South Carolina after 20 weeks. The state legislature is currently considering the bill.
Photos by Christina Lee Knauss/Miscellany