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BOSTON — Once the site of Revolutionary meetings, Faneuil Hall was alive Jan. 12 with speeches, prayers and songs rallying supporters to continue the “fight” to protect the unborn during the 31st annual Interfaith Assembly for Life.
"It is you who have led this fight and carried this fight on for so many years," master of ceremonies Ray Flynn told those gathered in the Great Hall.
Despite the “antagonistic opposition” the pro-life movement faces from the media and special interest groups, pro-life supporters have “persevered” and have continued to make strides in the fight against abortion, said the former ambassador to the Vatican and Boston mayor. The November signing of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban by President George W. Bush “is no small achievement,” Flynn continued, in light of “the powerful influences working against us.”
Massachusetts Citizens for Life (MCFL), the organization that sponsors the annual rally marking the January anniversary of the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision, has led many of the efforts aimed at protecting life in the Commonwealth.
MCFL president Peg Whitbread said that the loss of over 40 million babies to abortion in the United States makes it impossible for her and other pro-life supporters to abandon their work for the unborn.
"How long will this last, how long will we be in this battle, how many more years must we fight to restore life?" Whitbread wondered.
"We will be here for as long as it is necessary for us to be here," she declared. "We have no choice -- our choice is life."
Whitbread commended Massachusetts House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran, keynote speaker at the rally, for his successful effort to remove embryonic stem cell research legislation from a recent economic stimulus package. She called its removal from the package a “major step” in the protection of life.
As a politician, “it is extraordinarily difficult to stand up and vote a certain way,” Finneran said in his address. Supporting life is “one of the easiest positions to take because it is the right position to take,” he continued.
"We live in an age of confusion and contradiction," where human life is undermined and undervalued, Finneran told the audience.
He said, in today’s society, “Orwellian” language is used to make the clear unclear. “Life is not really life, and a baby is not really a baby.”
Greater emphasis is placed on the lives of animals than on the lives of humans through hundreds of animal rights campaigns such as the “Save the Whales” and “Adopt a Greyhound” programs, Finneran continued.
"Might we also raise our voices to consider the adoption of children rather than the extinction?" he added. "Think of all the noise that has been raised by editorials and writers yet the extraordinary silence when it comes to human life and what has been going on in our midst for the past 31 years."
When society opened the door to abortion, issues of absent fathers and single mothers, divorce and euthanasia became “mere trifles,” Finneran stated. Today we are experiencing an “assault on the most important institutions of human life,” he said, citing marriage as one such institution.
He referred to instances in which the courts have created law rather than interpreted law as “the judicial tyranny of an unelected branch of government.”
"Substantial decisions involving the leavening institutions or human lives must come from the people's representatives and from nowhere else," Finneran said to a loud round of applause.
A number of other speakers also participated in the rally, including Rep. Elizabeth Poirier, R-North Attleboro, who recently testified in favor of “An Act Relative to a Woman’s Right to Know” that has been proposed to lawmakers. The bill would require that abortion facilities provide information on the procedure, the risks involved and the status of the unborn child 24 hours before performing the abortion.
Rep. Poirier called the proposed legislation “a crucial piece in the progress of the pro-life movement” and said that support for the bill among legislators is increasing.
Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley made an unexpected appearance at the rally, delighting those in attendance. He thanked the pro-life supporters who continue to work for the unborn in the face of adversity.
"At times the task seems to be so daunting, yet each year when we go to Washington D.C. [for the annual March for Life] the numbers keep growing," said Archbishop O'Malley. "The cause is not going to go away because it is a cause of life."