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Virginians march for life in Richmond

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Audrey Lambert, 11, knew exactly why she was at the the Virginia March for Life in Richmond. She even had hoped to tell some of the television stations covering the pro-life rally about it. Lambert, a student at Angelus Academy in Springfield, was marching for her brother.

"If my mother hadn't have been pro-life, what would've happened to my brother? James always smiles, he's always happy, he's sort of our little sunshine," said Lambert, lighting up talking about her sibling. "He has Down syndrome and he's deaf, so some people would say he wouldn't have a chance at life and I don't think that's fair. I'm here because all babies deserve a chance at life, just like my brother."

Thousands of people joined Lambert at the second March for Life in the commonwealth's capital Feb. 13. Before the noontime rally in front of the Virginia State Capitol, many Catholics attended Mass with Richmond Bishop Barry C. Knestout and Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.  

"Years ago, it was not thought that there would be a need for such a march here in the commonwealth. How quickly things can change," said Bishop Knestout in his homily. "So on this day we join as a local church in fervent and urgent prayer."

After Mass, many met with their elected officials to advocate for the unborn, especially regarding two pieces of legislation — SB 733 and HB 980. According to the Virginia Catholic Conference, the lobbying arm of the Virginia bishops, these bills would "repeal health and safety protections at abortion facilities, allow non-physicians to perform first-trimester abortions, and severely roll back essential informed consent laws, including the opportunity to view an ultrasound." 

Bonita Boyer and Joseph Clement, seniors at Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Potomac Shores, along with their teacher Andrew Kubick, navigated the government building hallways searching for their representatives while reheasring their talking points. They were able to speak with Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) and a representative from Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-Prince William).

 

 

Boyer expressed her concern that non-physicians do not have the proper training to provide abortions, particularly if a medical emergency were to occur. Clement felt concerned that the proposed legislation would harm women. "We're very pro-women's rights and that's what concerns us so much about this bill," he said. "Every person going through a medical procedure has a right to be fully informed. And a lot of these (bills) would reduce a woman's informed consent."

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Following a morning of prayer and lobbying, the students climbed up the hill leading to the white steps of the capitol. People carrying pro-life signs and umbrellas crowded in to the hear the speakers. Bishop Burbidge gave the opening prayer.

"Oh God, be with us as we march today, remembering it is you who lead us," he said. "Help our elected officials to see your light and exhibit the political will to do what is right and just and holy."

Concern for what is happening at the General Assembly brought Mike Rupar to the march. He traveled with about 30 other people via bus from Holy Spirit Church in Annandale. "I felt like so many awful laws have been passed in such a rush that we need to react quickly," he said. 

He's particularly galled by legislation that would allow non-physicians to perform abortions. "That one to me, it's like the veil is lifted, the most important thing (for people pushing for that bill) is that the abortion goes through. They'll do everything they can to make sure no one is discouraged, no one is dissuaded and that the abortion happens as quickly as possible."

But Rupar felt glad he was able to attend the march and heartened to see the bishop there. Underneath cloudy and rainy skies, the cheerful crowds walked through the streets of Richmond, hoping for sunnier days for the unborn children of Virginia. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020

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