Pro-life supporters gather for annual March for Life Chicago

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Cardinal Cupich addresses pro-life Catholics from parishes, schools and groups across the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Midwest who joined the March for Life Chicago at the opening rally Jan. 8, 2022, in Federal Plaza. After listening to speakers, participants marched through downtown Chicago. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

Pro-life supporters from Illinois and across the Midwest gathered on Federal Plaza Jan. 8 to rally, listen to speakers and participate in March for Life Chicago, a procession down Michigan Avenue to the Chicago Hilton, and 720 S. Michigan Ave.

The event, which last year was turned into a series of car processions because of COVID-19, was presented by weDignify, an organization of pro-life college students from across Illinois, with the sponsorship of more than 20 other groups.

The Archdiocese of Chicago hosted the pre-march youth rally at the Hilton and a post-march Mass.

March for Life Chicago, which organizers say is the largest pro-life event in the Midwest, began in 2013 with about 150 people processing along the sidewalk in downtown Chicago, said Kevin Grillot, executive director.

Lynn Vance, who came with other parishioners from Mary, Mother of God Parish on the North Side, said she’s been attending pro-life events for several years.

In a college embryology class, she learned that once an egg is fertilized, the embryo has everything it needs in terms of genetic material to develop and is a human individual, she said.

“I didn’t jump into pro-life stuff right at that moment,” Vance said, adding that she got involved a few years later when someone invited her to an event. “I didn’t want to go alone.”

Beth Ruegg, also a parishioner at Mary, Mother of God, said she comes to the local March for Life to witness to the loss of life caused by abortion.

“I’m just horrified at the silent holocaust that is going on in our midst,” she said.

When he took the stage, Grillot said there are more abortions performed each year in Illinois — more than 46,500 in 2019, the last year for which the Centers for Disease Control provides data — than in all of its surrounding states combined.

Rev. Matthew Harrison, president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, told participants that they should remember being at the 2022 March for Life Chicago.

“Remember this day well,” he said. “You were here the year Roe v. Wade died.”

Some of the holdings of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling that there is a constitutional right to abortion until the fetus is viable, could be in jeopardy when the Supreme Court rules on a case having to do with abortion restrictions in Mississippi later this year.

But, Harrison said, merely rolling back Roe v. Wade will not restrict access to abortion in Illinois, which in 2019 passed legislation to keep abortion legal, and this year rescinded a legal requirement that parents or guardians of girls under 18 be informed before they have abortions.

“When Roe falls this year, people are going to be flocking to this state for abortions,” he said.

Cardinal Cupich also looked forward to more legal protection for unborn babies in his remarks, noting that the church has long advocated for them.

But, the cardinal said, respect for life goes beyond advocating against abortion.

“We march today for respect for all human life,” Cardinal Cupich said, adding that includes working to protect everyone.

“By taking human life, denying the child in the womb to be born, treating the lives of immigrants, the elderly the sick, those on death row, the weakest in society, the victims of poverty, war and famine, as though human life is disposable, sends a message that the life of human being is meaningless,” the cardinal said.

He urged the young people who attended the rally and march to persist in their efforts.

“When you speak to your peers, when you look for ways you would want to save the child in the womb, I would ask you to … tell your friends that the advocacy for the human right to life at all stages, that we’re here fighting to defend the truth, that we’re born in order not to die, but in order to begin,” Cardinal Cupich said, citing the work of philosopher Hannah Arendt. “My hope is that you will continue to fight for the life of the unborn. That’s what should unite us all.”


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