by Julie Anderson
Special to The Leaven
TOPEKA — If it was not the biggest March and Rally for Life in recent years, it certainly came close.
On Jan. 23, a crowd of approximately 2,500 to 3,000 persons attended the event held on the south steps of the state Capitol, organizers said.
“It was one of the largest crowds we’ve had at the annual pro-life march and rally in Topeka,” said Mary Kay Culp, state executive director of Kansans for Life.
The march and rally, sponsored by Kansas for Life, is conducted annually in commemoration of the two 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decisions: Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. These decisions swept away state abortion laws, and on a national level legalized abortion for nearly any reason up to and including the ninth month of pregnancy.
The crowd was swelled by students from Catholic schools across the state, including one from as far away as Augusta. Home-schooling groups sent buses and car pools of students as well. These large Catholic contingents were joined by other groups, including those from various Protestant churches.
Rally goers were addressed by state officials, including Gov. Sam Brownback and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Several legislators from the House and Senate also greeted the attendees.
The Catholic bishops of Kansas were represented by Bishop John. B. Brungardt of the Diocese of Dodge City.
During the rally, Sen. Garrett Love, from Montezuma, introduced his “little brother” Austin. Garrett told how, at birth, Austin could fit in the palm of one of his father’s hands. Today, six-foot-tall Austin is a guard for the Washburn University basketball team. Garrett said that Austin’s amazing story just proves anything is possible and that all life deserves protection.
Kobach told the crowd he recently became a father for the fourth time, but he was quick to emphasize that he became a father at the moment of his daughter’s conception, not at her birth.
Brownback, a member of Christ the King Parish in Topeka, shared a reflection about his oldest child’s recent wedding, a moment Brownback thought might not have happened. His daughter Abby didn’t cry immediately after birth and had low APGAR scores that concerned the medical staff.
“I started thinking, ‘What if this moment (her wedding) had never happened?” the governor said, adding he often wonders how many moments have never happened due to the millions of abortions performed annually.
Brownback said, however, that he has reasons for hope. The Kansas Legislature continues to work to advance legislation protecting all human life, he said. He is also hopeful about the future because of the large numbers of young people joining the pro-life movement.
Culp said the pro-life movement has achieved some significant victories, the tide of public opinion is slowly turning pro-life, and the incremental approach is working.
“The bottom line is that the public is behind us,” said Culp. “Gallup polls show that more people are calling themselves pro-life.”
Prior to the rally, nearly 1,700 persons attended a Mass celebrated by Father Brian Schieber, pastor of Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish in Topeka, and concelebrated by six other priests. After the rally, Kansans for Life sponsored several workshops at Mater Dei Parish’s Assumption Church hall.