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Support for life

Pro-life activists rally at state Capitol

by Joe Bollig

TOPEKA — Hundreds of pro-life activists braved single digit temperatures on Jan. 22 to gather at the south steps of the Capitol here and protest the U. S. Supreme Court’s abortion rulings 35 years ago that day.

Despite the intense cold, said Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, “it was a great day.”

“So many people were there — and stayed for the whole rally,” she noted.

Just on the other side of the south steps doors, a warmer but more sparsely attended rally was being conducted by the Kansas Choice Alliance. Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, chairman of the Kansas Senate’s judiciary committee, spoke to the pro-choice gathering.

Usually, Kansans for Life reserves space inside the Capitol for its annual rally, but this year the Kansas Choice Alliance reserved the space first.

The Rev. Peggy Elliott, founder of The Balm of Gilead Ministries in Wichita, gave the keynote address at the pro-life rally.

“We should be as concerned about the unborn children in the womb and their lot as we are about children outside of the womb,” said Rev. Elliott. “And so I come today to sound the alarm. Abortion is wrong. Abortion is murder. God desires for every single one of his children . . . to be born into a world that receives them, and blesses them, and nurtures them, and loves them.”

Although there have been approximately 50 million legal abortions since the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions, Culp said there were several positive developments that should serve to encourage pro-life activists.

“The good news is that reports have just come out saying that abortions are at their lowest level [nationally] in 34 years,” she said.

Culp also noted that while Americans United For Life, a pro-life organization, ranked Kansas’ pro-life laws fifth best in the nation, NARAL Pro-Choice America, a pro-choice organization, gave the state a D-minus.

“The problem is that we don’t have any enforcement of those laws,” said Culp. “We’ve had to go to grand juries to try to get enforcement, so our issue this year is enforcement.”

Many of the pro-life activists first met at Assumption Church, which sits across the street from the Capitol’s north side. They were led to the south steps by a fourth-degree Knights of Columbus honor guard.

Father Brian Schieber, pastor of Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish in Topeka, gave the opening prayer. More than 35 state legislators came out at different times during the rally to be introduced to the crowd, which numbered between 300 and 400.

Winners of the Kansans for Life poster contest were announced, and those present were awarded their prizes, ranging from $25 to $100. Kay Lyn Carlson, director of the Abortion Recovery Center of Topeka, spoke briefly about the center, and Megan Kennedy of Hoyt, the 2007 winner of the National Right to Life Committee Oratory Contest, delivered her winning entry.

Following the rally, a Mass, lunch and workshops were offered at Assumption Church.

March for Life gathers all

Laube said the view of abortionists is that babies are inconvenient, but people should understand they are God’s creatures and they “have an immortal soul.”

He encouraged parents to attend marches, because if they don’t “walk the walk,” their children won’t listen, and abortion won’t end.

Not too far away from Laube’s sleeping babies stood a group of men with denim jackets, bandannas and leather boots.

The Sons of God, a motorcycle group that promotes the Gospel to other bikers, came on Harley-Davidsons to defend fatherhood and defend life.

Jul Brown, a woman who accompanied the bikers and whose husband is a member of the Sons of God, said when she had twins 23 years ago, they were born five months premature with severe medical complications, and they remained in the hospital for two months. It was ironic, she said, because although she wanted her children to live, just down the hall doctors aborted babies.

“That is my choice?” she asked. “We turn our heads from what is uncomfortable to us. I’m here to say, ‘Let’s protect the innocent.’”

But women are not the only people affected by abortion.

Stephen Kosciesza from St. John the Evangelist Parish in Silver Spring, Md., held a sign that read “Abortion — neat, quick, easy way out . . . for men.” This sign gathered attention from numerous men who approached him to say they have been “hurt by abortion, too.”

Kosciesza said he understands this hurt, and he wants fathers to have a more vocal and active role in an abortion decision. He also hopes men will ask their partners to choose life and assume responsibility for their own children.

About the author

Joe Bollig

Joe has been with The Leaven since 1993. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in journalism. Before entering print journalism he worked in commercial radio. He has worked for the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and Sun Publications in Overland Park. During his journalistic career he has covered beats including police, fire, business, features, general assignment and religion. While at The Leaven he has been a writer, photographer and videographer. He has won or shared several Catholic Press Association awards, as well as Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara awards for mission coverage. He graduated with a certification in catechesis from a two-year distance learning program offered by the Maryvale Institute for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at Old Oscott, Great Barr, in Birmingham, England.

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