by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — You might think that pro-lifers would be at a low point as the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade nearly coincides with the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
But if you thought that, you would be wrong.
“We’re at a high point,” said Ron Kelsey, archdiocesan consultant for pro-life ministry. “A nationwide survey by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops found 82 percent of the American public favors restrictions on abortion, and the number [of people who want abortion restrictions] continues to grow.”
“The more and more people become informed, the more they want abortion restrictions,” he continued. “That stands in stark contrast [to efforts to promote] the Freedom of Choice Act.”
No question about it, the election of a president with a strong pro-abortion record is a downer, he said, but pro-lifers have always operated on the long term. Most people who voted for President Obama did not do so for his positions on the life issues.
“The victory will be won in the hearts and minds,” said Kelsey, “and we’re winning there.”
That pro-life determination will be on display during the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., and during pro-life observances here in the archdiocese.
One of the most important events is the annual lobby day and rally at the state Capitol in Topeka on Jan. 22, which is sponsored by Kansans for Life.
“I think we’ll have a wonderful turnout,” said Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life.
“People are afraid of FOCA [the Freedom of Choice Act] and presidential executive orders,” she continued, “but they’re also very energized. Would [the Obama administration and Congress] dare to go that far and remove our abilities to have any [pro-life] laws at the state or federal level? That would be bold, and awful — and against public opinion.”
Usually, the big rally takes place on the south steps of the state Capitol. However, because of ongoing renovations, the event has been planned for across the street in front of the Kansas Judicial Center, home of the Kansas Supreme Court.
Events sponsored by Kansans for Life begin with a 9 a.m. registration, with coffee and doughnuts, in the basement of Mater Dei (Assumption) Church at Eighth and Jackson streets, just north of the Capitol.
At 9:30 a.m., participants will be given instructions on how to find legislators’ offices. Because of renovations, some have been moved to the Docking Building and different parts of the Capitol. Participants will have an opportunity to visit legislators and tour the Capitol.
Two workshops will be offered in the basement of Mater Dei Church from 10 to 10:45 a.m. At 10:45 a.m., participants will march, with a Knights of Columbus honor guard, from the church to the Kansas Judicial Center for the rally.
Some participants will hold a vigil from 11 to 11:45 a.m. in front of the Judicial Center. They will place tape over their mouths to protest the continuing gag order on Judge Richard Anderson in the ongoing case regarding Planned Parenthood.
Church services will be held at noon, with a Mass and an interdenominational Protestant service.
Lunch will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. in the basement of Mater Dei Church. The cost is free, but a freewill offering is suggested.
Following lunch, a workshop will be held in the basement until 2:45 p.m. An open meeting and panel discussion will be held with the Kansans for Life board of directors at 3 p.m.
Culp said that it was absolutely vital that faithful Catholics participate and bring the pro-life message to state legislators. Kansas has good laws regulating abortion, but they’re not being enforced, she said.
Despite the disappointing presidential election, pro-lifers can be cheered by positive developments in the Kansas House. The Kansas Senate, however, continues to be a problem, thanks to the current leadership.
“The Senate majority leadership has arranged the committees so there aren’t enough pro-life senators on any committee to pass a bill easily except on the agriculture committee,” said Culp.
If there is one thing that is more encouraging than state-level political gains, it is the awakening that has resulted from people being shaken out of their pre-election apathy.
“I’m getting phone calls and e-mails, and even ‘confessions’ from people,” said Culp. “They’re saying, ‘Oh my gosh, what can I do?’ I tell them to come to the [Jan. 22] rally and our KFL breakfast and banquet.”
“I’ve never seen people so energized as they are now,” concluded Culp. “They want to do more. They don’t feel defeated.”