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Pro-life activists remember Baby Agnes

Hundreds turn out in Tyrone for 30th Respect Life March

Mirror photo by Russ O’Reilly Hundreds turned out for the 30th annual Respect Life March on Sunday, which featured a prayer service at St. Matthew’s Church in Tyrone and about a mile walk to the grave of Baby Agnes Doe at the Oak Grove Cemetery.

TYRONE — Remembering the shocking discovery of decomposed human baby remains outside of Bellwood by a dog in 1987,  about a few hundred people gathered Sunday for a march to the cemetery where the unidentified body is properly buried.

The 30th annual Respect Life March was held at noon  Sunday with a prayer service at St. Matthew’s Church in Tyrone and about a mile walk to the grave of Baby Agnes Doe at the Oak Grove Cemetery.

The march is sponsored by the The St. Gregory Council 1218 Knights of Columbus, where Peter Kreckel is the pro-life director.

“Outside of Bellwood, the remains of a child were found back in 1987, and her decomposed body was drug into a yard by a dog. What happened was, this family member found it and called the police. They’ve done coroner inquests, they’ve done all types of investigations, and they’ve never been able to elucidate who this child belongs to,” Kreckel said.

“In June of 1987, the Knights of Columbus of St. Gregory’s Council in Tyrone gave a really nice funeralMass, as well as a dedication in Oak Grove Cemetery to this baby.”

Anti-abortion and pro-abortion rights activists both claim to be on mercy’s side in cases of unexpected pregnancies.

The marchers on Sunday prayed for widespread adoption of a worldview that is generous to life at conception through old age as well as scientific and social change to eliminate reasons that lead to abortions.

“We’re not making it our job to change laws, but we can change how people feel about it and change hearts,” said Bill Stadtmiller of Altoona.

Stadtmiller said the march in the small borough was a quiet statement about the importance of protecting life. He and his three children, ages 4, 8 and 10 years old, walked the route to the cemetery while his mother-in-law, Mary Engelman, 79, rode to the cemetery in one of the several cars participating in the march.

A handful of lawmakers attended the march.

Wearing jeans and casual winter coats, Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr., R-Blair, Rep. Judy Ward and Rep. John McGinnis mixed in with the marchers. Eichelberger is the chairman of the pro-life caucus in the state senate.

He is the prime sponsor of a bill that was introduced last week, the “Conscientious Objection Act,” which  aims to protect health care providers and institutions who decline to counsel or perform health care services that violate their consciences.

The decision to have an abortion is typically motivated by multiple reasons, according to a study for the Guttmacher Institute. The themes of responsibility to others and resource limitations, such as financial constraints and lack of partner support were recurrent reasons given in the study.

Complications with the health of a fetus is widely accepted as a valid reason for an abortion.

“Turn around and look at the boy right behind you,” Mike Isola of Bellwood said to a reporter framing the question. “He wouldn’t be here if his parents thought that.”

Walking a few feet behind Isola was Aaron Bucher, a polite and happy teenager with Down syndrome who Isola said will be confirmed in the Catholic church this year.

His mother, Angela Bucher, of Bellwood said she didn’t have the prenatal tests done to know for sure whether Aaron would be born with Down syndrome, but her blood work suggested it could be likely.

“I never thought his life was a mistake or a problem or a hindrance. I always felt I was given this life to respect,” she said.

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