A group of 16 Marquette students marched amidst thousands of pro-life demonstrators in Washington, D.C., Jan. 24. The students were participating in the March for Life, a rally and protest held annually since 1974 condemning the practice and legality of abortion in the United States.
This year, Donald Trump attended the March for Life, becoming the first sitting president in history to do so, according to the New York Times. In his speech at the National Mall, President Trump endorsed the pro-life demonstrators’ mission.
“Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House,” Trump said.
Jan. 22, two days prior to the March for Life, marked the 47th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling, a 7-2 Supreme Court decision that legalized the practice of abortion in many instances. Since then, Jan. 22 in the Catholic liturgical calendar has been known as the Day of Prayer for the Unborn.
Hannah Barth, a first-year student in the College of Education, has been going to the march since high school.
“Being pro-life isn’t just being anti-abortion,” Barth said. “It’s being anti-death penalty, anti-euthanasia — against anything that threatens human life from conception to natural death.”
The students’ three-day stay in Washington was sponsored in part by Campus Ministry and Marquette for Life, a pro-life student organization located on campus. According to the ministry’s website, interested students must have registered and paid a fee of $200 before Nov. 1 to attend. The remaining expenses of the trip were covered by private donations made to the Campus Ministry and Marquette for Life. The website called the trip a “pilgrimage designed to help students grow in relationship with God.”
The website also linked a statement the United States Jesuits released in 2018 that condemned abortion, stating that it is “part of the massive injustices in our society.”
“We try to be very holistic in our approach to questions of justice on campus and beyond,” assistant director of Campus Ministry Stephen Blaha said. “Many of those questions right now surround women and men experiencing crisis pregnancies, unborn children and that natural gift of human life.”
Blaha is responsible for organizing the Campus Ministry’s annual Washington DC trip to take part in the March for Life.
In commemoration of the Day of Prayer for the Unborn, Campus Ministry in partnership with Marquette for Life hosted Masses at St. Joan of Arc Chapel on campus. These Masses were open to the public and were scheduled for noon and 10 p.m.. A third mass was held Jan. 24 at noon in support of the March for Life.
“The march itself looks not just at legal protection for unborn children – which it certainly does — but also the fundamental needs of women experiencing crisis pregnancies before, during and after pregnancy,” Blaha said.
This includes healthcare, education, employment and housing needs for women and their partners. Fixating on one aspect of a complex matter is “unbelievably short-sighted,” Blaha said.
Despite events held on and off campus by the ministry and Marquette for Life, not all members of the campus community agreed with this advocacy of a pro-life message. A protest was organized by members of the student organization Marquette Empowerment Jan. 24 from noon to 1 p.m.
Margaret Cullinan, a senior in the College of Health Sciences and march attendee, said: “It’s important to remember (Marquette University) is a private institution.”
She emphasized that every private institution holds certain beliefs which its members respectfully acknowledge before joining that establishment, Cullinan said.
This story was written by Nicole Laudolff. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.