2022 saw the U.S. Supreme Court give authority over abortion back to the states, and Missouri became the first to ban elective abortions.
What comes next?
“We get to live in this time in history that most people thought they’d never get to see,” said best-selling author Shawn Carney.
The co-founding CEO and president of 40 Days for Life will be a keynote speaker at this year’s Mid West March for Life in Jefferson City.
“Shame on us if we don’t make the most of this time in history and get involved like we’ve never been involved before,” he said.
The 14th annual March and rally will take place on Wednesday, April 26, 2023, on the South Lawn of the Missouri State Capitol Grounds.
Activities are planned from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Parishes and schools throughout the diocese are encouraged to participate.
All are encouraged to wear red.
Lauren Muzyka, president and CEO of Sidewalk Advocates for Life, and Sister Deidre Byrne, superior of the Little Workers of the Sacred Heart, will also give keynote presentations.
Bishop W. Shawn McKnight will pray the Opening Prayer and give remarks at the pre-march rally.
“You gotta’ go!” said Mr. Carney. “History will look kindly on the people who engaged themselves in this movement in this time right after Roe.”
The day’s activities will start at 8 p.m. with a Prayer Walk in the Capitol and the praying of the Divine Mercy Chaplet on the Capitol steps.
Singer and songwriter Camille Harris will provide entertainment at 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
A pre-march rally at 9:30 a.m. will include Bishop McKnight; Brandy Meeks, president of the Vitae Foundation; Bridget Van Means, CEO Vision Leader of ThriVe Nation; Jon Nelson, lead pastor of Soma Community Church in Jefferson City; and Susan Klein, executive director of Missouri Right to Life.
The keynote speakers will then take the stage, followed by a peaceful march through downtown Jefferson City.
Seizing the momentum
Mr. Carney will share strategies and boundless optimism in his talk.
“I’m going to lay out how we can win, how we can have abortion-free states and abortion-free regions — which means we can have an abortion-free country,” he said.
A father of eight children, Mr. Carney was among the people praying outside the Planned Parenthood clinic in College Park, Texas, when its manager, Abby Johnson, joined the pro-life movement.
Her story became the subject of a book, Unplanned, and a motion picture of the same name.
He said proponents of legalized abortion did not expect the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision to be overturned, and were not prepared for this moment.
“They now have to defend abortion, and they’re ill equipped to do so,” he said.
Meanwhile, pro-lifers are becoming more committed than ever, Mr. Carney stated.
Mark Lee Dickson, founder of Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn, said that level of commitment is necessary, “because the fight is not over, it’s just beginning.”
“We need to be more present now than we’ve ever been in the history of the pro-life movement,” Mr. Dickson stated.
More than 30 life-affirming exhibitors will have displays at this year’s Mid West March for Life.
The Fulton Knights of Columbus council will hold a fundraising lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Capitol grounds.
Catherine Glenn Foster, senior fellow in legal policy at the Charlotte Lozier Institute; Reagan Barklage, national field director for Students for Life America; and Hope Miller, teen activist will lead a session for students at 1 p.m.
The topic will be, “What’s Next for the Post-Roe Generation?”
Mr. Dickson and Mike Seibel, Esq., senior counsel for Abortion on Trial, will give a 1:15 p.m. session titled, “Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn: Why They Matter.”
“Yes, Missouri has an abortion ban,” said Mr. Dickson. “But what would happen if something happens to that ban?”
The Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative has been influential in drafting 65 city ordinances and two county ordinances in communities across Texas, Nebraska, Ohio, Louisiana, Iowa and New Mexico.
The ordinances keep abortion out of those communities.
The organization is helping to draft additional ordinances in other states, including Nevada, Illinois and Virginia.
“There is great value to having an ordinance passed at the local level that reinforces the state’s abortion ban and protects the city at the most local level, just in case anything happens in the future,” said Mr. Dickson.
He noted that these Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn laws can offer added protection to unborn babies and their mothers.
For instance, Odessa, Texas, recently passed a law prohibiting the aiding and abetting of an abortion being performed on a resident of Odessa, even if that happens in another state.
“And there are more things we can do,” said Mr. Dickson. “It just depends on the state and the locality.”
He noted that there are two types of abortion bans in place across the United States: explicit bans and de facto bans.
While the explicit bans outlaw abortion in the text of the ordinance, the de facto bans accomplish the same end result another way — by requiring compliance to federal abortion statutes which trump all state laws and all state constitutions.
The federal abortion statutes mentioned in the ordinances are 18 U.S.C. §1461 and 18 U.S.C. §1462, which prohibit the mailing and receiving of abortion drugs or abortion paraphernalia — “anything that would be used in the procuring of an elective abortion,” said Mr. Dickson.
“By prohibiting the mailing or receiving of those items, no abortion organization would be able to function,” he stated.
Inspiration for the Sanctuary Cites for the Unborn movement comes from Amos 5:15: “Hate evil and love good, and let justice prevail at the gate; Then it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will have pity on the remnant of Joseph.”
“For so long, we said that if you want to take care of abortion, you do that at the Statehouse and the national’s Capitol,” said Mr. Dickson.
“But the battle is also local,” he noted. “The women who are contemplating abortion are coming from our communities.”
He said he hopes participants in this year’s march come away with a broader perspective of their pro-life responsibilities.
“We have to do our part to maintain what we currently have while working to end abortion in every state in America,” he stated.
He noted that one of the greatest commandments is to “love your neighbor.”
“That means we should care about this battle not just in our own state but in our neighboring states,” he said.
“Finish the job”
Mr. Carney, who lives in Texas, has visited Missouri several times and devoted a chapter in his book, The Beginning of the End of Abortion, to local pro-life advocate Kathy Forck for the success of the Columbia 40 Days for Life.
He asked for prayers for the Holy Spirit to speak boldly and clearly throughout the Mid West March for Life, “and that people realize that the battle is not over and that we need to finish the job.”
Mr. Dickson encouraged women and men alike to attend the march.
“This is a humanity issue, and we’re all in this together,” he stated. “We are all human beings, made in the image of God. We have that common origin.
“We are all former fetuses; we all were in our mother’s womb,” he said. “And our value, our worth, our existence should not be determined by another human being.”
He said people who regret having had one or more abortions or having encouraged someone else to do so are most welcome at the March.
“I have known many who have found hope and forgiveness in Jesus Christ and they are looking forward to the day that they are reunited with that child,” he said.