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March for Life: Dobbs launches new era in pro-life cause

The following story appeared in the January 27 Idaho Catholic Register.

Olivia Works leads the annual March for Life down Capitol Boulevard and to the State Capitol on Jan. 21. About 700 participated in the march. (ICR photos/Vero Gutiérrez)

By Emily Woodham

Staff Writer

BOISE – The recent Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade and handed abortion back to the states was a huge victory for the pro-life movement, but those who support safeguarding all life cannot give in to the temptation to rest on their laurels, participants in the annual March for Life in Boise on Jan. 21 were told.

“And as much as we have to celebrate, and it is a great deal, we have even more left to do because in truth, Dobbs is not the culmination of the pro-life movement, but it’s a second beginning,” said Megan Wold, the keynote speaker at the rally that drew about 700 marching down Capitol Boulevard to the steps of the State Capitol.

Wold, a former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito who wrote the majority opinion in the decision that overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, opened her remarks with a moment of silence for the approximate 63 million lives lost to abortion since 1973.

As marchers bowed their heads, about 25 protestors across the street from the State Capitol chanted for a reinstatement of federal rights for abortion. Although small in number, the shouting protestors punctuated the message from speakers that the work of the pro-life community is not done.

Pro-life advocates at both the Life Mass that preceded the march and at the rally celebrated last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court decision, Dobbs v. Jackson, that overturned the Roe decision. The Dobbs case returned the right to state legislatures to determine laws regarding abortion.

Due to that decision, this may be the final March for Life held in January in Boise, said Jason Herring, president of Right to Life of Idaho. Pro-life groups are considering moving the march to summer in commemoration of the Dobbs decision.

“Roe never got to see its 50th birthday because of the work of pro-life advocates like you,” Herring told those attending. “We give honor to the brave justices of the Supreme Court who returned the power back to the people to protect life in our states.”

Wold, a partner in Washington D.C. law firm Cooper & Kirk, said the Dobbs decision gives the power back to the people to protect life. “This is a time of great joy. But as we celebrate the decision, we also celebrate the effort of this movement, which for 50 years spoke the truth about unborn life and the grave evil of abortion.”

Hundreds of lives have been saved due to the robust pro-life laws in Idaho, Wold said, referring to recent anti-abortion legislation and the Idaho State Supreme Court decisions that upheld that legislation. However, those laws will “not be the end of the story in Idaho,” she said. The threats made to the lives of Supreme Court justices who sided with Alito to overturn Roe underscore the fact that pro-life advocates will need to be fearless in the face of opposition and continue to promote the protection of human life, she said.

“We must vote; we must share our views on life, by persuading our friends, families and neighbors. We must continue our prayers and our vigils, and we must march at events like this to show that the pro-life movement is also strong, also motivated, and will not stop acting to protect life,” she said.

WOLD, WHO MOVED to Idaho with her family last year, told marchers that her infant had to be hospitalized in intensive care in December. During that time, she witnessed the care of premature babies, who were born at 26 weeks’ gestation and earlier. The experience, she said, strengthened her resolve that all human life is precious and must be protected. The science that has helped these premature babies to survive is the science that “has only helped to show the truth of what we speak for.”

“Idahoans have shown to my fam-ily, during the crisis that we endured, that this is a people of prayer. We are a people of great love, of enormous generosity and with true passion for life. And together we will protect life in Idaho. And Idaho will remain a state that loves the unborn,” she said.

Herring said there were only two social movements in the United States that were fought over personhood – slavery and abortion. Between the end of slavery in 1865 until the Civil Rights movement of a century later, advocates for equality dropped the ball by not continuing to fight for the dignity of all people, Herring said. Given the recent Dobbs decision, Herring expressed concern that this same kind of apathy – falsely thinking that advocacy is no longer needed – could happen to the pro-life movement.

“Roe is dead. However, abortion is not dead,” Herring said. “The unnatural killing of a preborn child in the womb still continues to go on. We cannot tire; we cannot fatigue. We must continue to march for life every single year, if need be, to show that we will speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. We will defend the defenseless until all life in America is respected and protected under law.”

At least 400 attended the Life Mass celebrated by Bishop Peter Christensen on Saturday, Jan. 21. The Bishop’s homily focused on God’s love for each individual and how He sees each person as a pearl of great price. “You are so valuable in God’s mind. You are His work of art, and He will do anything to have you with Him forever,” he said. (ICR photo/Vero Gutiérrez)

EARLIER IN THE DAY, Bishop Peter Christensen celebrated the annual Life Mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist attended by at least 400.

Embracing the enormous and life-changing love that Jesus has for us should define this next chapter in the pro-life movement following the Dobbs decision, the Bishop said.

Bishop Peter began his homily by recognizing the life of Roger Graefe, a parishioner and former youth minister at Sacred Heart Parish in Boise, who recently passed away. The Bishop described Graefe as a man of “encouragement and joy,” When someone who had worked with Graefe in youth ministry described Graefe as “radically vulnerable,” Bishop Peter looked into the term more deeply. In doing so, he realized how important this was to Graefe’s childlike joy and faith.

To be “radically vulnerable” has Latin origins “rooted in being open to woundedness,” Bishop Peter said, noting that Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven as buried treasure in a field and the pearl of great price (Matt. 13:44-46). Using that passage and also referring to Matt. 22:15-22 in which Jesus said to “repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God,” Bishop Peter said that the people of Jesus time fell into three different camps: the Pharisees, the Herodians, and the true treasure seekers.

The Pharisees, he said, hijacked religion and worship of God, transforming it into a heavy burden that was all about the externals. The Herodians, on the other hand, were more worried about pleasing Caesar than pleasing God.

Jesus teaches His disciples a third way, the way of treasure, the Bishop said. “Let the treasure of great value transform your life. Get rid of all the other stuff. Get in relationship with your Heavenly Father who loves you deeply.”

It may seem simple, but the Bishop warned that those who root themselves in the treasure and leave the superficiality and status quo of this world will “enter a new dimension that’s going to make you very vulnerable to other people.” Some don’t want the spiritual side of life because they might lose control, he said. “Some don’t want another side to life, they only want control of life as they see it.”

“My brothers and sisters, disciples go deep. You will find the treasure, and when you find the treasure, you will realize it’s really the Treasure (God) who found you: you are the treasure.”

“Do you belong to God or not? Whose face is upon you? Who’s on your heart? Is it Caesar? Or is it God? Are you a child of God? Or a child of Caesar?” Bishop Peter asked.

Of the billions of people on the face of the earth throughout time, each person is unique, the Bishop said. Each person, to Jesus, is a treasure; a pearl of great price. “You are so valuable in God’s mind. You are His work of art, and He will do anything to have you with Him forever.”

This knowledge of the value of hu-man life is the reason Catholics are inherently pro-life, he said. “We under-stand the value of every single human life, no exception, each unique in the mind and heart of God.”

“Jesus is on a treasure hunt. He’s looking for the pearl of great price – that’s you, that’s all of our brothers and sisters throughout the world. He wants us. How much will He pay for us? Everything! He will give His entire life for love of His people,” he said.

“Chapter two” of the pro-life movement, Bishop Peter, is our calling to bring the love of God in the world. “We know what it is to love and to be loved – vulnerably, recklessly, radically – to encourage one another to a better life,” he said.

Those who continue to live out this treasure-focused life centered on Jesus Christ and His Kingdom “will continue to spread the Good News to others by our words and our actions, and abortion will be no more.”

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