More than 200 people gathered June 24 in downtown St. Paul to mark the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that found abortion to be a constitutional right, legalizing it across the country.
Brian Gibson, executive director of rally organizer Pro-Life Action Ministries, based in St. Paul, noted that the pro-life rally was being held at a historic time, in the plaza of the Warren E. Burger Federal Building and Courthouse. A native of St. Paul, the late Burger was the Supreme Court’s chief justice when Roe v. Wade was decided, Gibson said. He and six other justices joined an opinion written by Justice Harry Blackmun, who grew up in St. Paul, to form the majority in the case.
“But we’re standing here today because that decision of 1973 is gone,” Gibson said, as the crowd clapped and cheered and held up signs showing a child’s face and proclaiming “I am human!”
Gibson, a lifelong Catholic, acknowledged the prayers and hard work of 49 years supporting women, men and babies in hopes of saving lives under Roe v. Wade. But he gave all the praise and glory to God.
“I hope all the cheering is for God,” he said. “It’s the Lord God Almighty who has brought this day to us.”
The rally began with Christian hymns, one of which asked the Lord to “shine, Jesus, shine, fill this land with the Father’s glory. Blaze, Spirit, blaze, set our hearts on fire.”
A protester carrying a sign that read “Keep Abortion Legal” sought to disturb the crowd with a bullhorn emitting a loud siren, and with a loudspeaker, at times chanting, “pray me away.” But he was largely ignored. A few other protesters joined him.
Archbishop Bernard Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis said he would not have missed the rally for anything because he wanted to see the faces of so many who supported the pro-life cause. The Church will work to build a just society where women in unplanned pregnancies can find support, where children and families will find the health care and education they need, the archbishop said.
“I pledge that our Catholic Churches will be a sanctuary to women in crisis pregnancies,” the archbishop said, where at the very least people will help them find resources to meet their needs.
Archbishop Hebda spoke on behalf of Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state’s Catholic bishops. The MCC’s Maggee Becker also pledged the organization’s commitment to backing legislation to bolster support for mothers and children.