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BOSTON -- For the first time ever, Boston will host its own March for Life this summer. Previously termed the Walk to Aid Mothers and Children, the annual pro-life event, has undergone a name change and focus shift. The main focus now will be on witness and advocacy, much like the March for Life in Washington D.C. Organizers have also planned a new route and hope to attract more young marchers.
On June 28, the pre-march rally, held at the Parkman Bandstand on Boston Common, will start at 1 p.m. with the march following at 2:30 p.m. All participants have the opportunity to raise money for 16 local pro-life organizations, including march organizer Massachusetts Citizens for Life (MCFL).
Speakers include Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley, elected representatives, and young pro-lifers. To further appeal to youth, organizers have booked LIFT Ministries, a group that leads Catholic worship concerts for teens.
In the past, the walk left the bandstand, headed through Boston Common and the Public Garden and then made a loop up and down Commonwealth Avenue. This year, participants will march on Boston Common, pass the Statehouse, go around the Public Garden and circle back to the bandstand. Organizers say the change will increase the event's visibility.
The differences this year follow on the heels of varied approaches to retooling the walk, held every year since 1987. Historically, it took place in October, but two years ago MCFL decided to schedule it for the spring in order to have it at a different time of year than the October fund-raising banquet. That year, it was held at La Salette Shrine in Attleboro. Last year, MCFL decided to move the walk back to Boston and hold it on the last Sunday in June. Many previous participants expressed a desire to give witness near the Massachusetts Statehouse, which prompted both the move back to the city and the name change this year.
MCFL president Anne Fox said that the event will be more like the national March for Life and will give people who cannot go to D.C. the opportunity for pro-life witness. It also affords people who attended the Washington event the chance to participate in local pro-life advocacy.
Fox said that pro-life work is just as essential here as it is everywhere else. Well over one million surgical abortions have been performed just in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts since 1973. "We forget that until somebody brings it home," she said.
Fox admitted that in the face of such numbers, it can be easy for pro-lifers to become discouraged, particularly when elected representatives in our state tend to oppose pro-life legislation. Recently, 9 out of 11 of Massachusetts' Congressional delegates voted against the federal Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
But those who value the sanctity of all human life are not alone in Massachusetts. Even in the most pro-abortion areas in the state, at least 35 percent of Bay Staters are pro-life. In some areas, that percentage climbs to 80 percent, she said.
Locals who support life must remain vigilant in opposing laws that would further devalue life. Fox said that even if Massachusetts is one of the least pro-life states, standing our ground here benefits the cause nationwide.
"Look, if we're the bottom of the barrel, the higher you hold up the bottom, the better the whole barrel is," she said.
In recent years, Massachusetts pro-lifers have successfully opposed laws in favor of physician assisted suicide and lowering the age of consent for abortion. Another success story came last November; in 11 districts voters passed non-binding ballot questions that instruct local state representatives to vote for a bill that would require all abortion clinics to be licensed and inspected.
March chairman Ed Nazzaro said that Commonwealth residents who are passionate about life need to get involved with the local pro-life movement. "You can make a positive impact right now, right where you're living."