Stepping out and standing up for life

Hundreds braved the cold to march and rally for life, and a newly ordained priest urged participants to be ‘Catholic superheroes’ and fight for those in need.

COLUMBIA—The annual tradition of spending an entire weekend advocating for life and an end to abortion drew large crowds to the capital city on Jan. 11-12.  

Participants of all ages engaged in a variety of events, but one of the highlights of the 46th Stand Up for Life event was the march through the streets of Columbia and a rally congregated at the Statehouse. The march is the best known pro-life event in the state and has been going on since Roe v. Wade became law in 1973. 

Cold temperatures challenged the marchers for the third year in a row, but they were not the Arctic-levels participants faced in 2018. Organizers estimated about 900 people showed up. Watch the video stream of the march here.

A group of Christian motorcyclists known as Heaven’s Thunder helped counter the chill with coffee and hot chocolate from a tent set up to one side of the Statehouse steps. 

Catholics were some of the most visible participants in the march, with the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus leading the procession and hundreds of youth standing on the Statehouse steps holding pro-life banners and signs. 

Miscellany/Doug Deas: Msgr. James LeBlanc, pastor of Transfiguration Church, delivers a rallying speech at the capital.

The keynote speaker was Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee. Based in New Mexico, she is a member of the National Right to Life Committee board of directors and was its political director from 1991 to 2005. 

Tobias congratulated the participants for being willing to take a public stand against abortion and other threats to human life. She cited statistics that show the number of abortions nationwide have fallen from an all-time high in 1990 to about 900,000 nationwide — still a tragic number but evidence of what can be done by those who persist in fighting for life. She also praised the 64 percent drop in the number of abortions in South Carolina, which peaked at 14,000 and had fallen to 5,000 in 2017. 

Tobias said the latest language being used against the pro-life movement falsely decries it as being part of a “war on women.”

“Wanting to protect unborn children and their moms is not anti-woman, it is pro human being,” she said. “There is a war on women, but it is being waged by anti-abortion advocates who think a woman can’t succeed without killing her unborn child.” 

“People like you all here today are the reason America and South Carolina are still uneasy about abortion. People are alive today because of what you have done and what you are doing,” she continued. 

After the march, about 600 Catholic youth and adults attended their annual rally at the Township Auditorium. The event is sponsored by the diocesan offices of Youth Ministry and Family Life. 

Father Rhett Williams, parochial vicar at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Simpsonville, celebrated Mass and offered a moving talk about the impact that each person can have in promoting human life and dignity. 

He described the immense popularity in recent years of movies based on Marvel and DC superheroes. He said heroes are special not only because they have superpowers, but because they use those powers to save others and promote what is right.

“Each of us is a Catholic super hero,” he said. “Everything you say and do has the ability to change someone’s life … all it takes is a little bit of faith to do the right thing. We are taught to love His truth and to fight for those who can’t defend themselves.” 

More than 500 people also attended the annual “Proudly Pro-Life Banquet” held Jan. 11 at Seawell’s in Columbia. 

During this dinner, state legislators and others active in the pro-life cause from around the state and nation honored Holly Gatling, who is marking her 25th anniversary as executive director of South Carolina Citizens for Life.

Miscellany/Doug Deas: Marchers from Lexington join hundreds of others during the 46th Stand Up for Life March and Rally on Jan. 12.

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