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The largest, youngest and most vibrant human rights demonstration in the world!
Benedictine College celebrates decades of students who contributed to the fight to overturn Roe v. Wade
“Freed from the bonds of Roe, we can now march toward our loftier goal of not only ending abortion but making it unthinkable,” said Ann Clare Levy, a representative of the National March for Life. “We have truth on our side, we have love on our side, and most importantly, we have God, the Giver of Life, on our side.”
Levy was the first speaker in a remarkable line-up for a rally put together by Benedictine College as a means of recognizing those who fought for life for more than four decades as representatives of the school’s pro-life student organizations. In addition to the speakers, the rally included recognitions and a march across campus, from St. Benedict’s Abbey to Wilcox Stadium.
“As THE pro-life college in America, we are proud of the work everyone here has done for the pro-life movement,” said Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis. “I would like to thank everyone here. Everyone who attended the National March for Life. Those who prayed outside abortion clinics. Those who participated in the Justice for All training. Those who dialogued with students on the KU campus and did other sidewalk counseling. Those who visited the aged in nursing homes. And those who support the culture of life in everything you do.”
Hundreds gathered for the event on September 10, which was set up to resemble the experience of the annual March for Life each January in Washington, D.C. Minnis recognized students who had interned for the Value Them Both organization in Kansas and together knocked on over 40,000 doors in 72 cities. He also recognized representatives from each decade of the original Promote Better Life club and the student organization that grew from it, Ravens Respect Life.
An impressive list of guest speakers then addressed the audience. Following comments from Levy of the National March for Life, Melissa Ohden took the podium. Ohden survived an attempted abortion at 7 months gestation and has gone on to be one of the premier pro-life speakers in America.
“We are all part of the tapestry of a culture of life…and we will continue to fight for the day when every single person is seen as more than a choice,” Ohden said. “I was more than someone’s choice to abort. It was not my biological mother’s right to try to end my life.”
Ohden tearfully referenced her own daughter when she spoke of not only the 64 million lives lost to abortion in the last 50 years, but also the loss of generations of children they would have had.
“On behalf of 64 million children who never had the opportunity to thank you, who I was meant to be, I just want to give you this word of thanks today for fighting for us. For seeing our humanity and for working alongside all of us to build a culture of life for generations to come,” she concluded.
Perhaps one of the more shocking people on the stage was Dr. John Bruchalski, an obstetrician and gynecologist who had performed many abortions and even developed a reputation for his adeptness at late-term abortions. Through a conversion at the Marian shrine at Medjugorje in Eastern Europe, his life was changed. He now runs the largest fully pro-life ob-gyn practice in the nation and spends his time away from the practice encouraging medical professionals to follow Christian principles that reflect the dignity of the human person and the unity of body and soul.
“Abortion is not healthcare,” Bruchalski said. “Medicine is dead because we bought the lie of elective abortion as good healthcare. The elective abortion, the direct and intentional killing of the unborn in the womb of their mother, is not good medicine. I know first-hand because I performed that brutal and bloody murder that we euphemistically call the termination of pregnancy.”
He said that abortion is so abhorrent to the general population that proponents use the term “pro-choice” and will rarely say the word “abortion” in a speech.
“Abortion still remains in the shadows,” he said. “Use the word ‘abortion,’ it resonates. Language matters. Tearing limbs. Poisoning. That’s not medicine. It’s violence.”
He ended his speech on a note of hope, looking at the young college students in the gathering.
“To see the people here at Benedictine, yes, there is hope,” he said. “We can cure the hardness of heart that I had.”
Benedictine’s President Minnis acknowledged Dr. Bruchalski’s challenge and reminded people that the college had just signed a collaborative affiliation agreement with Catholic Healthcare International on Sept. 8, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The agreement begins the process of establishing a new medical school on the college’s campus, the proposed St. Padre Pio Institute for the Relief of Suffering, School of Osteopathic Medicine at Benedictine College.
The final speaker at the rally was Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. The organization had investigated more than 700 Christian colleges in America and assessed their pro-life stance and activities. Benedictine College received an A+.
“We no longer live in a nation where abortion is an uncontested norm, endorsed by the highest court in the land,” said Hawkins. “The impact of such a cultural change has yet to be measured and we now have a generation, us, who have never known an America without legal abortion, that has been shown that transformation is possible.”
She said this moment had been anticipated by many and the founding of Students for Life of America 16 years ago was in preparation for this time when the Roe decision was overturned.
“We knew the day would come when Roe would fall and we knew, at that moment, our movement had to be ready,” she said. “We had to be ready on every campus, in every community, and at every state capital. We had to be ready to lead.”
She was honored to say Students for Life of America serves 1,300 chapters in all 50 states and included 150,000 young people.
“And now, our marching orders could not be more clear,” said Hawkins. “As a community, we must do more to ensure that no woman stands alone. To show that for 50 years we’ve been supporting and sustaining an entire social safety net. And we’re not going away. In fact, we’re redoubling our efforts and increasing support.”
Unfortunately, she said the vast majority of Americans (75%) and elected officials don’t know about the non-violent healthcare alternatives that exist. She said the movement must work harder to spread the word and elected officials must do the “hard things” and not just say they are pro-life in campaign speeches.
“Today, tomorrow and the next day, you are called to speak about the violence of abortion and the extremism of those who advocate for it,” she said. “You must not allow yourself to be silenced because of your pro-life stance.”
She said it will be important in the coming years to keep fighting and maintain hope, acknowledging that such a long fight will have setbacks and disappointments. She reminded everyone that slavery did not end immediately upon the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation, and it took 99 years from the end of the Civil War in 1865 to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 before there were formal prohibitions of discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
“You have to be willing to hope, to envision an America without abortion. You must choose every day to be undeterred,” she exclaimed, bringing her speech to a crescendo. “Each and every day we move forward, making the case for the humanity of the preborn, protecting life in law and in service as much as possible, as quickly as possible, wherever possible, with boldness, innovation and grit!”