The sunny day today started with a chilly autumn breeze as I joined pro-life activists from across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, who arrived in Harrisburg to take part in the Pennsylvania March for Life.
Simultaneously, part of the crowd filled the Cathedral of St. Patrick for a morning Mass for Life, and the rest began filling the street right in front of the State Capitol building, just half a block away, and took part in interdenominational praise and worship.
The variety of home-made and professionally made signs, pro-life t-shirts, and buttons was matched by the variety of ethnicities and ages, as babies in carriages, grandmothers in wheelchairs, and everyone in between filled up the gathering space by the thousands.
The Pennsylvania Family Council took the lead in organizing the day’s events, which were carried out without a flaw. I didn’t see a single counter-demonstrator, and the mood was high in optimism and determination to fight for the unborn. Prayer, song, and lively conversation filled the air from start to finish.
A few key themes marked the day.
Pennsylvania has been suffering the pro-abortion policies of its recently-elected Governor, Josh Shapiro. One of his acts has been to unilaterally slash the funding of “Real Alternatives,” a statewide program that has been in place for decades and helps fund pregnancy centers.
The theme of the pregnancy centers, which have recently organized a statewide advocacy group, was front and center in the speeches. I spoke with some pregnancy center staff who said that as of the end of this year, they will no longer receive the over $100,000 that the statewide program was providing them each year.
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Their hope, however, is that publicity surrounding the slashing of these funds will inspire more people to step up to the plate and help fund their local centers.
One of those sharing that hope, of course, was the pro-life candidate for Governor last year, Doug Mastriano, who marched proudly with the crowd. Many of us thanked him for all he has done for the cause, and reminisced about the pro-life Democrat governor Pennsylvania once enjoyed, Gov. Bob Casey.
A second theme was the pro-abortion legislation that has been introduced in Pennsylvania, the “Bodily Autonomy Act” (HB 428), which seeks to undo the pro-life protections brought to Pennsylvania by the Abortion Control Act (which was litigated in the famous Planned Parenthood vs. Casey case at the US Supreme Court (1992)).
The presence of scores of pro-life legislators from the PA House and Senate was impressive. They not only filled the stage, but overflowed it. In speaking with many of them I was impressed with their enthusiasm and determination. They are undeterred in speaking up for the unborn.
Also on the minds of many of the marchers is the November 7, 2023 election for Supreme Court Judge in Pennsylvania. Hopes are that Carolyn Carluccio can win that race, which would reduce the Democrat majority on the Court from 4-2 to 4-3. These judges serve 10-year terms, so the opportunity to make such a shift in the Court doesn’t come around very often.
And finally, some of the members of our Silent No More Awareness Campaign, which is very active in Pennsylvania, were present with their signs and testimonies, which educate the public, embolden legislators, and reveal the fact that we who oppose abortion do not oppose those who have had abortions. Rather, we embrace them with compassion, mercy, and love.
God bless the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and all the pro-life people who came out to march today.
LifeNews.com Note: Frank Pavone is the national director for Priests for Life.