Banners, t-shirts, balloons proclaim pro-life crowd’s convictions


Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Mark Hosbein stood on the corner of a busy Washington intersection under the steady rain Jan. 23 with a small duffle bag at his feet and a simple message for passers-by: “Please consider spiritually adopting an unborn baby who is in danger of abortion.”

Handing a reporter one of his brochures, Hosbein said as president of Hearts For Life, he is following the lead of the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, who promoted the idea of spiritual adoptions for the unborn years ago.

People who commit to such an adoption agree to pray once a day for a year for an unborn child, he explained. “Our belief is God will save the life of the baby. It’s a simple and powerful devotion.”

A man from Ocean City, Md., holds a sign during the annual March for Life rally in Washington Jan. 23. (CNS/Bob Roller)

Hosbein, a member of St. Lawrence Parish in Indianapolis, said in the past five or six years, his organization has passed out 100,000 of his brochures.

He was among several people giving signs and literature to pro-lifers as they walked toward the March for Life rally on the National Mall near the Smithsonian Castle. From the castle, the Washington Monument in one direction and the Capitol in the other were shrouded in fog and barely visible.

The weather in Washington was uncooperative, with intermittent rain and temperatures hovering in the high 30s.

But as in most years when the weather was bad, the tens of thousands of pro-lifers, a majority of them high school and college age, were undeterred. Donning rain gear and holding umbrellas, they descended on the nation’s capital to mark the 39th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. The Supreme Court handed down the decision Jan. 22, 1973.

As they streamed toward the rally site from various points, rallygoers carried signs that declared their pro-life views. Among the messages were: “Adoption is an option,” “Every time a baby is aborted, love is denied,” “Praying for a culture of life,” “If it’s not a baby, you’re not pregnant,” and “Abortion survivor: Daughter of rape.”

One woman wrote her message in bold black letters on the back of her yellow rain poncho: “God is pro-life: Thou shalt not kill.” One group carried yellow balloons that simply said, “Life.”

Earlier in the morning, gathered at a Washington hotel before the March for Life activities got under way, young members of a Catholic Daughters of the Americas junior court in Framingham, Mass., talked to Catholic News Service about why they were there.

“Abortion is something we shouldn’t do,” said Tiffany Andino, 14. “If you have the guts to do things that what takes to get pregnant, you should have the guts to keep the child. Bringing new life into the world is a very big thing. My mom always taught me if you break the rules you pay the consequences. … I don’t agree with abortion and I want it to stop.”

Added Laura Jaime, who turns 13 Jan. 30: “Girls (treat) it like a game and do things and get rid of the baby. That should change. If it doesn’t change, we’re going to make the world worse.”

Valerie Valdivia, 12, said she was participating to send “a message to people not to kill a creature of God.” Fourteen-year-old Natalia Mendez echoed Valerie’s remarks, adding that everyone needs “to cherish and love” God’s creation.

Joanne Tomassi, Catholic Daughters’ national regent, told CNS, “It’s important for the juniors, these young women, to get involved as early as possible in the pro-life fight … but we need people from all groups, all ethnic groups, economic groups, men, women and children (involved). Abortion affects everybody.”

Near the rally site stood Erin Connelly from the Syracuse, N.Y., area, who was wearing a handmade sandwich board that declared: “Save the baby humans!” A member of St. Patrick Parish in Chittenango, Connelly said it was her second rally and march.

She said she was inspired for the day ahead by the Mass celebrated that morning by Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan of New York at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

She said she doesn’t know about other communities but in her community back home, there is a lot of respect for life.

A group of young people from the Diocese of Victoria, Texas, stood near the speakers’ platform. They were all wearing yellow hooded sweatshirts with this message on the back: “Death Roe Survivor.” The slogan and lettering were created by 16-year-old Ted Wenske, a member of St. Joseph Parish in Moulton, Texas.

He was there, he said, “because life from the moment of conception to death is sacred. Life should always be treated with respect.”

Ashley Martinez, 13, of Potomac Oaks, Md., admitted that her parents had made her attend, but she said she does believe the nation “should stop abortion because it’s bad. It’s a human life.”

Boston University junior Brad Agostinelli of Rochester, N.Y., said he has grown in his Catholic faith over the past couple of years and his conviction that abortion is wrong has only grown stronger.

Heather Wilson, 28, a member of a nondenominational Christian church in Pennsylvania, held a sign that said, “Stop unborn pain.”

She told CNS, “I’m here to put my feet in the direction of what my heart believes.”