By Katelyn Swisher, Special to The Circuit.
Benedictine students who attended the March for Life 2017 say it was an incredible experience.
“It was very moving,” said Gabriella Sipe, sophomore. “I had high expectations, but it really just exceeded all my expectations.”
The March for Life was Friday, Jan. 27 in Washington, D.C. Approximately 270 BC students traveled on five buses to attend the march.
The event began with a rally featuring a number of speakers, including Vice President Mike Pence and Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Participants then marched up Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court and Capitol building to protest the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
Sipe, who attended the march for the first time this year, said it gave her hope for the future.
“You’re surrounded by all these people who are just filled with love,” she said. “It was a joyful experience, even though the cause we were fighting for was so sad. There was no violence, no hatred, everything was done with love, and that was super moving for me, especially after seeing all the violence and stuff going on lately in the country.”
Sipe was especially touched by the testimony of Rep. Mia Love, a Republican from Utah, who spoke about her own experience of nearly being a victim of abortion.
“It was just cool hearing it from someone who was at risk of being aborted, and how knowing that made her believe even stronger in the pro-life movement,” Sipe said.
Sophomore Jocelyne Kleinsmith said Love’s speech was very inspiring. She called it a beautiful testimony of someone whose life has been transformed by grace.
Kleinsmith was also inspired by the strong presence of young people at the March for Life.
“I would say one word to describe it would be thrilling,” Kleinsmith said.
“It was a thrilling experience and honestly, I believe that the standards of what children, teenagers and young adults can do in this world and in our society are so low. To witness so many youth, so many young adults out there defying standards, showing that they can make a difference—and we will make a difference—was so strong, and it was just breathtaking to be in the presence of so many people like that.”
This was Kleinsmith’s first time marching in Washington, D.C. Although she went with Benedictine last year, a blizzard forced the group to return to Atchison before the march.
Kleinsmith said her dream is to attend the March for Life in Lima, Peru, where she went on a mission trip last year.
“No matter where you are, you can make a difference, you can bring about change for the good,” she added.
Although Sean O’Donnell, junior, has attended pro-life marches in Portland and Salem, Oregon, Seattle and Olympia, Washington, and San Francisco, he said the national March for Life is a very fruitful experience.
O’Donnell said this year’s march was unprecedented due to the heavy involvement of the Trump administration in the pro-life cause.
“I see a lot of hope in the future actually, and [Trump] could do a lot in these four years.”
But he said an important issue within the abortion debate is racism. Bishop Vincent Mathews Jr., president of world missions at the Church of God in Christ, addressed the issue in his pre-march speech.
“One thing that he brought up that was super important was how abortion, in its nature, is completely racist,” O’Donnell said. “That’s what it was founded on, is racism against African Americans in particular, and all other minorities.”
In his speech, Matthews compared abortion to slavery by referencing the constitution’s three-fifths compromise.
O’Donnell, Sipe and Kleinsmith agree the trip was a moving experience and all three students hope to attend the march again.