Pro-life witness in Falls Church

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If you drove into Falls Church on Annandale Road Aug. 22 between 9 and 11 a.m., you could not have missed the huge crowd gathered holding signs promoting the gift of human life and calling for the government to defund Planned Parenthood.

An estimated 1,000 people lined the sidewalks around the block of the Planned Parenthood clinic on Maple Ave. where, according to the Virginia Department of Health, 771 abortions were performed in 2014.

Signs and banners with statements like "Life Counts," "Defund Planned Parenthood," "Pray for the doctor's conversion!" and "Choose life, we can help you! Call 1-800- 848-LOVE" lined the block. In addition, signs promoted the Project Rachel ministry that offers help for those suffering from having chosen abortion, with reminders of God's love and mercy.

Motivated by the recent videos on the buying and selling of fetal tissue obtained from aborted fetuses, a national day of peaceful protest was organized by the Pro-Life Action League. Media outlets reported that thousands gathered across the country to show their support of the call to defund Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest provider of abortions. The organization's annual report shows 327,653 abortions were performed in 2013-14.

Theresa King of Vienna volunteered to organize the Falls Church demonstration. It was the first time she had organized such a demonstration. She said the horror of the videos inspired her to act.

"It was a visceral reaction to try and do something to stop Planned Parenthood from doing this terrible thing," she said. "I didn't really know what I was doing and kept telling my roommates that I was uncomfortable getting involved, but I am so happy I did.

"Standing up to Planned Parenthood is uncomfortable because I am not anti-woman and I want women to have good health care, but I think that we deserve better," she said. "Abortion is terrible and women need options to make choosing life possible. We want women to have good health care but Planned Parenthood is not the answer."

Hundreds of parishioners from the Arlington Diocese gathered with their families and parish communities to pray, sing and publically witness their support for women and human life. The crowd included all ages and religions, even some coming from as far away as Richmond and Charlottesville to show their support.

Richard Hunter, a pro-life advocate and parishioner of St. James Church in Falls Church, said he was amazed at the size of the crowd. "I totally didn't expect those numbers of people," he said. "Someone counted 1,000 people. They were thick, going all around the block, both sides of the Planned Parenthood (clinic). It was definitely the Holy Spirit at work."

Sr. Clare is director of Pro-Life Activities for the Arlington Diocese.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015