Pro-life advocates gathered with renewed hope this year for the 49th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., their spirits buoyed by the significant challenge to Roe v. Wade now before the U.S. Supreme Court. Knights of Colum- bus from across the country, including Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly and other Supreme Officers, were among the tens of thousands of people participating in demonstration on Jan. 21.
Darren Tsang, a member of Georgetown University Council 6375 in Washington, led the Pledge of Allegiance to kick off the March for Life Rally on the National Mall.
“There is strength in community, and we have a bigger voice as we come together, especially in the nation’s capital, to advocate for unborn,” said Tsang, who marched with several dozen college Knights from different universities. “It’s so invigorating to see all these people, and to be a voice for those who can’t be a voice for themselves.”
Following the rally, the massive crowd peacefully marched down Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court building, where oral arguments were heard in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization less than two months earlier. The case is considered the most serious challenge to Roe — the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationally — in several decades.
“There’s an energy, a hopefulness in the crowd, because we know that this year is a crucial year for life,” Supreme Knight Kelly said. “We hope and pray for a good decision in the Dobbs case. We hope and pray for an end to Roe, and we hope and pray that our laws will protect children.”
A new Knights of Columbus/Marist Poll, the supreme knight added, shows that a majority of Americans reject the central holding of Roe.
Knights of Columbus volunteering at the march or attending with their families, councils and parishes, expressed a sense of optimism about the legal fight against abortion.
Joe Knight, grand knight of St. Louis the King Council 11898 in Clarksville, Md., has served as a marshal at the event for years, alongside dozens of other Knights from Virginia, Maryland and D.C. He hopes he won’t need to again. “Wouldn’t it be great,” he asked, “if we didn’t need to have a 50th march?”
Yet even if Roe v. Wade is overruled, in whole or in part, the need to work for laws that protect the unborn will remain. Advocacy at the state level would become crucial, which is one reason the March for Life Education and Defense Fund is expanding its state march program.
Also vital is the continued need to build a culture of life, Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore reminded attendees of the opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life on Jan. 20.
Archbishop Lori, who serves as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, celebrated the Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and paid tribute in his homily to the many ministries that help expectant mothers choose life and support them and their children after birth.
If Roe is overturned, the supreme chaplain said, “we must redouble our efforts to accompany women and couples who are facing unexpected or difficult pregnancies, offering them loving and compassionate care.”
The Knights of Columbus is prepared to answer that call, said Supreme Knight Kelly, noting the myriad ways that Knights provide material and volunteer support to pregnancy resource centers — especially through the Order’s Ultrasound Initiative (see sidebar).
“Blessed Michael McGivney founded the Knights to care for the family, to care for widows and orphans,” the supreme knight said. “Today, we come to expectant mothers and their unborn children with love and support to help them make a life-affirming choice.”