Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"Hands Around the Capitol" - Mainers for Life

    Today was the 41st anniversary of the notorious Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions.  Here in Maine we mark the Supreme Court fiats (“an exercise of raw judicial power”, as Justice Byron White said) the weekend before with a rally organized by Maine Right to Life called “Hands Around the Capitol.”
     We started the day in prayer, appropriately, at St. Mary’s church in Augusta (as a sad reminder of the
Gov. Paul Lepage
divisions in the body of Christ, our separated brethren attended a different service in a nearby Protestant church).  We then met in the gym next door for a series of speakers and presentations (all 325 chairs were filled, with dozens standing; “almost 200 attended”, according to the local news outlets).  The crowd included old veterans of the pro-life movement, but many high school and college aged participants as well.  A highlight this year was an impassioned address by Governor Paul LePage (see my account here), Maine’s first and only pro-life governor in the post-Roe era.

     Next, the event from which the rally takes its name.  All the assembled marched down Sewall Street carrying red “Stop Abortion” signs, toward the State Capitol.  Two banners led the way, one carried by Knights of Columbus, another by a group of college students.  This year a couple came out of a sandwich shop along the way and applauded.  It was appreciated: not all members of the public we encounter en route are so encouraging.  At the State Capitol, as we formed a ring around the entire building and silently held hands, Fr. Joseph Daniels of the Diocese of Portland rang a replica of the Liberty Bell on the grounds 41 times, once for each year since Roe; pro-life state senator Stacey Guerin place a red rose under the bell each time it tolled.  It was a solemn and moving conclusion, a fitting commemoration to one of the darkest chapters in our nation’s history.
Marchers on their way to the Capitol

Pro-life students at the State House

State Senator Stacey Guerin and Fr. Joseph Daniels