For the 17th year, pro-life advocates from around Florida and Georgia will assemble in St. Augustine on Jan. 13-14 for the annual March for Life. The theme will be “We Choose to Love Them Both!”. It will be the last opportunity to participate in the St. Augustine event. Next year, the March will be in Tallahassee, said May Oliver, director of the Office of Human Life and Dignity for the Diocese of St. Augustine.
The 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion was overturned by the court in June in the in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling. “Now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, states are being encouraged to move their marches to their capitols to be a presence for their legislatures,” Oliver said. “That doesn’t mean we won’t be doing rallies or other events in St. Augustine in years to come.”
And the March will no longer be timed to coincide with the anniversary of Roe v. Wade but will be linked to legislative events, she said. Although pro-life advocates have been celebrating the end of Roe v. Wade, it was just an important battle in an ongoing war. The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops is monitoring the Legislature for pro-life legislation that could abolish abortion and regulation of the so-called morning-after pill.
The March for Life begins Friday at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche at Mission Nombre de Dios, 101 San Marco Ave. A college leadership workshop will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Andy Secola, Florida regional coordinator for Students for Life of America, and Pam Stenzel, senior regional clinic director for community pregnancy clinics in Central and Southwest Florida, will speak at the workshop. Adoration and music will be at 5 p.m. Father Clay Ludwig will celebrate Mass at 6 p.m., followed by the illuminated living rosary at 6:45 p.m. The praise and worship concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Food trucks will be on site.
On Saturday, Bishop Erik Pohlmeier will celebrate Mass at 9 a.m. at the shrine outdoors (weather permitting). The March begins at 10:30 a.m. Speaker presentations at the Plaza de la Constitución in front of the Basilica Cathedral of St. Augustine on Cathedral Place begin at 11:30 a.m.
Jason Phillips, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist who will talk about the emotional and physical trauma that results from the abortion pill. Oliver said about 56 percent of all abortions in Florida are by the pill, and that number could go as high as 80 percent in a year.
Melissa Coles is the birth mother of the documentary “I Lived on Parker Ave.” and the recently released movie and book “Lifemark.” She became pregnant at 18 and was on the table awaiting an abortion when she changed her mind and walked out. A couple who were unable to have children adopted the boy. Nineteen years later, the families had an emotional reunion. Coles now works with women struggling with unplanned pregnancies.
“According to Melissa, culture says, ‘choice, choice, choice’ but thwarts information from getting to people about alternatives,” Oliver said. “Adoption is such a viable and loving option.”
Wayne Friday, who volunteers outside an abortion clinic, will share his testimony about changing the mind of a woman seeking an abortion.
Oliver said about 3,000 people are expected at the Saturday event. “We are grateful for the participation of our parishes. We have all denominations coming. It’s not just a Catholic event. We’re going to celebrate the end of Roe v. Wade in a spirit of gratitude and brainstorm about all the things that need to be done and how we’re going to do it.”Go to https://www.marchforlifestaugustine.com/ for more info and schedule of events or contact May Oliver at email@example.com.