Pro-life efforts took center stage nationally and locally Jan. 22 and Jan. 26 as annual March for Life rallies took place in Washington, D.C., and Knoxville following the fourth annual Rosary For Life.
Groups from the Diocese of Knoxville traveled to the nation’s capital for the Jan. 22 March for Life rally and a large Mass accompanying it and were joined by thousands of people marking the 41st anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.
Attention then turned to Knoxville on Jan. 26 and Tennessee Right to Life’s March for Life. TRL’s annual event turned into a rally in support of Amendment 1 to the state constitution, which would allow passage and enforcement of common sense policies designed to protect the health and safety of women and girls considering abortion.
Tennessee Right to Life and other pro-life organizations in the state are mounting a public-awareness campaign that urges people to vote “Yes” on Amendment 1 on Nov. 4.
More than 500 people, including Diocese of Knoxville priests, women religious, and parishioners, gathered at Calvary Baptist Church for the “Yes on 1” rally and then marched down Kingston Pike and Concord Street to Tyson Park, which is across the street from a former abortion clinic that closed in 2012.
Carol Zimmerman, president of the Knox County chapter of Tennessee Right to Life, told those gathered at the Jan. 26 rally that Tennessee has become an abortion destination because surrounding states have more protective measures in place.
She said in 2010, nearly 25 percent of Tennessee abortions were performed on women from out of state.
“The good news is that everyone in this auditorium can make a difference. Before, we could blame the pro-abortion legislators who kept us from reclaiming our constitution. Now, we only have ourselves to blame if Amendment 1 does not pass,” said Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, who is a Diocese of Knoxville parishioner.
“If Amendment 1 does not pass, it will only embolden those who have no respect for life. If Amendment 1 fails, it energizes the other side to push for expansion of abortion and your tax dollars paying for it,” Rep. Dunn added. “Without Amendment 1 passing, our hands are tied. We can do nothing to save babies and protect mothers. We have voted in our legislative chamber to put this initiative on the ballot. It is now up to you to vote and encourage others to vote to make it part of our constitution.”
The approximately 550 people in attendance at Calvary Baptist applauded the encouraging pro-life messages, which ended with closing prayer from Father John Dowling of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Fairfield Glade.
Father Dowling was joined at the rally by Monsignor Xavier Mankel, pastor of Holy Ghost Parish in Knoxville, Father Michael Woods, pastor of All Saints Parish in Knoxville, and Sisters Mary Marta Abbott, RSM, and Sister Stella Maris, RSM.
The Knoxville rally followed by only a few days the March for Life rally in Washington, where thousands of adults and youth braved freezing temperatures to show their support for the pro-life movement.
And those events followed the diocese’s fourth annual Rosary For Life, held Jan. 11 in front of the Planned Parenthood facility on Cherry Street, that was led by Cardinal Justin Rigali. Some 250 people from across the diocese gathered for the rosary.