For the first time since Roe v. Wade, participants in the annual Stand Up for Life march and rally in Columbia gathered Saturday believing they have a pro-life government on their side in Washington.
Near-freezing temperatures and the threat of snow and ice earlier in the morning did not deter the 200 to 300 people who gathered on the State House lawn to oppose to abortion.
The Stand Up for Life march and rally has been held annually ever since the 1973 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that granted women a limited right to decide whether to give birth.
“The abortion clinics are open today. Forty-two hundred children will die today,” said Lisa Van Riper, president of S.C. Citizens for Life, which has organized Stand Up for Life for 44 straight years.
“Our movement of standing for human life is not rooted in the opinions of man,” Van Riper said. “This principal position we take is rooted in the dignity and worth of every human being that is grounded in the reality of a creator.”
The efforts of advocates like those in the crowd are responsible for electing a president, vice president, U.S. Senate and House speaker who all oppose abortion, said U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-Springdale.
“This is the first time there’s been a unified pro-life government, and it’s because of your work,” Wilson said. “And it’s not just in Washington. It’s right here in Columbia.”
He promised the crowd they’d see Congress defund Planned Parenthood within the coming weeks.
Efforts to spread the anti-abortion message to the public and to legislators cannot slow down, speakers at the rally said.
“Don’t give up. Don’t burn out,” said Alveda King, the niece of Martin Luther King Jr. She referenced a passage from Romans 12 in the Bible urging the faithful to push forward despite challenges. “Don’t quit in hard times. Pray all the harder,” she said.
Sheila Goetowski, of Myrtle Beach, and her family have come to the rally every year since her children were young. The mother of six was joined by her youngest, 23-year-old son Noel, and third-youngest, 27-year-old daughter Bridget, on Saturday.
“When God creates you, he has a purpose for you, whether it’s being a teacher, being a reporter, being a mom, being the doctor who cures cancer,” said Bridget Goetowski, a special education teacher from Lexington. “Why would you want to risk not only killing a life but risk something so important that God has destined that baby to be?”
Even though standing against abortion is not necessarily a popular position among many people her age, Goetowski said, she believes “that no matter what everyone else is doing, you have to ask yourself what is right.”
Reach Ellis at (803) 771.8307.