The Catholic Spirit: United for Life rally at State Capitol draws hundreds; many pay visits to lawmakers

Chants of “United” followed by “for Life” echoed in the State Capitol Feb. 28 in St. Paul as nearly 700 pro-life advocates gathered in the rotunda and many fanned out to visit with lawmakers considering pro-abortion measures such as allowing infants to die after attempted abortions.

“My first words to you this morning are, ‘Peace be with you,’” said Archbishop Bernard Hebda of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, joined by three other Catholic bishops in the state, as he addressed those gathered and asked them to remind legislators to welcome life and protect it in law.

“It is impossible to live in a peaceful society without peace in the womb,” the archbishop said. “We want peace with justice. We are here advocating for prenatal justice.”

Bishops Daniel Felton of Duluth, Chad Zielinski of New Ulm and Bishop Emeritus John LeVoir, also of New Ulm, joined the archbishop. Religious sisters and brothers, lay women and men in the Catholic Church, people from other denominations and all walks of life filled both floors of the rotunda.

People held signs including, “I am human,” “Let her live,” and “Pregnancy centers support women and their families.” Many held State Capitol maps and lobbying materials as they prepared to meet with lawmakers in their offices.

Renee Carlson, general counsel of public-interest law firm True North Legal and Minnesota Family Council, emceed the rally and led the United for Life cheer. “Good morning, pro-life Minnesota,” Carlson greeted the crowd. “Welcome to the first ever United for Life day at the State Capitol.”

Only a month earlier, Jan. 27, pro-life and pro-abortion advocates gathered in great number in front of the Senate chambers as that body prepared to debate the Pro Act, which passed the House Jan. 19 and the Senate Jan. 28, and Gov. Tim Walz signed into law Jan. 31. The act places into state law a right to abortion in Minnesota for any reason and without limit on viability.

Archbishop Hebda warned in his “Only Jesus” column in the Feb. 9 edition of The Catholic Spirit that the Pro Act marked “just the tip of the legislative iceberg this term.” He urged people to come to the Feb. 28 rally as members of the House and Senate debate HF91 and SF70, companion bills that among other things would remove protections for babies born alive after an abortion.

The bills also would eliminate parental notification as women seek an abortion, including minors, and the Woman’s Right to Know pre-abortion informed consent law. The proposals would eliminate state abortion data collection, the 24-hour waiting period before an abortion and limits on state funding for abortion. Still another bill, HF289, would require pregnancy resource centers receiving funds under a state Positive Alternative Grant program to refer for abortions, undermining their mission of offering alternatives to abortion.

The Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of the state’s Catholic bishops, helped organize United for Life. The conference urged “no” votes but also wanted lawmakers to consider legislation that would help mothers choose life for their children, such as expanding the state sales tax exemption for certain baby products. MCC officials also are asking for increased funding for pregnancy resource centers under the current law, even as some argue to cut that funding. The conference is encouraging a permanent child tax credit and housing support to promote family economic stability.

Helping MCC organize the rally were Minnesota Family Council, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, Pro-Life Action Ministries, and the University of St. Thomas Prolife Center.

“This is an unprecedented effort — Minnesota’s largest pro-life advocacy organizations and hundreds of Minnesotans are coming together to show that, despite the current legislative climate, our voice will not be silenced,” said Maggee Hangge, public policy associate at MCC.

Read the full article from The Catholic Spirit.

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