Students attending March for Life

For Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School sophomore Sophia Griffin, it’s simple.

Human life begins at conception, she believes, and therefore abortion is wrong.

Griffin is one of 95 BG students riding on two buses to Washington, D.C., today to participate in the 41st March for Life, held annually on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the U.S.

“Once you believe it’s a person [in the womb], there’s no justifiable reason to kill,” said Griffin, reached by phone through Robert Sutton, BG religion teacher and director of campus ministry.

Local lawyer Tom Forr, chairman of Citizens Concerned for Human Life Blair County, which is sponsoring the BG buses and another bus that will pick up passengers at two parochial elementary schools, has been to 33 of them, starting in 1979.

Asked why he does it, he quoted Nellie Gray, the Texas-born lawyer and Catholic convert who founded the march: “We cannot let this anniversary go unnoticed and unprotested.”

Gray brooked no exceptions for abortion in the case of rape or incest, said Forr, who predicted she’d one day become a saint.

“Every life has value,” he stated.

“You always have to be sensitive where people are coming from,” Sutton said, talking about the need for dialog with abortion rights advocates. “You can’t know until you walk in someone’s shoes.”

But taking human life can never be a solution, “despite hard decisions that have to be made or difficult situations that people find themselves in,” Sutton said.

There’s really no room for compromise, said State Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr., R-Blair, who is riding on one of the buses today for his seventh march.

Katherine Muller, an abortion rights advocate and member of the Blair County Democratic Committee, doesn’t see

the issues in the same terms.

Quoting Hillary Clinton, Muller wrote in an email – reflecting her caution in commenting on the incendiary topic – “I have met thousands and thousands of pro-choice men and women. I have never met anyone who is pro-abortion.”

Instead, “being pro-choice is about supporting and protecting a woman’s right to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices,” Muller wrote. “This is done through accurate education about health, contraception and access to those choices.”

Forr said the aim of the march – to reverse Roe vs. Wade – is closer now to reality than in 1974, the first anniversary of the decision – despite scanty annual coverage by the mainstream media.

Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion for fetuses that weren’t “viable” outside the womb, according to a Princeton University website.

At that time, viability began at about 28 weeks, although it could be as early as 24, according to the website.

But states have “been moving the ball backwards closer towards birth,” with some trying to prohibit abortions as early as 20 weeks, Forr said.

Technology has helped, providing a window into the womb, where we can see human features early in pregnancy, Eichelberger said.

“You can see the babies now,” he stated.

Today, some marchers will pray or sing, some will talk to others, some will be quiet, some will go in groups, some by themselves, some will bring banners or signs and some will just walk, according to Eichelberger.

“It changes every year,” Forr said. “Depending on what’s going on, the weather, the crowd, the political climate.”

Last year, there were about 600,000 marchers, the most ever, Forr said.

The crowd is getting younger, according to Sutton.

“It’s turning into a youth movement,” he said.

“This is the civil rights issue of … the millennium,” Forr said.

People are offended by the comparison, but “it’s the same as the Holocaust,” he said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.