Don Doro wanted a son, but instead he was given three daughters.
“My prayers were answered many, many years later because I got four grandsons,” he said.
The youngest almost didn’t make it into this world.
“One of them was going to be an abortion,” Doro said. “My daughter went to Planned Parenthood in Appleton.”
Doro said his daughter went there twice. The first time was for information about an abortion, the second was to sign the paperwork and have the abortion. But before she entered the building for the second time, a woman living next door to the Planned Parenthood building gave his daughter some information about the unborn and abortions.
“She went in there to get the abortion, and (was) crying and bawling. Then the nurse came up to her and told her it was her turn and she ran out,” Doro said. “Then my grandson was born.”
Doro and thousands of other people from throughout the country brought their stories regarding abortion to Washington, D.C., on Friday, Jan. 25, for the 40th annual March for Life, commemorating the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which made abortion legal.
Doro, a native of Berlin and member of All Saints Catholic Church, participated was a first-time participant in the march, using vacation time to attend.
On Jan. 23, members of Pro-Life Wisconsin met at St. Mary Parish, Elm Grove, packed two buses with warm bodies and embarked on a 19-hour ride to the capital.
Riding along with Pro-Life Wisconsin were dozens of college and high school students. The sight of young people protesting and rallying against abortion was a common sight throughout the trip.
Doro’s daughter, Molly, took some time away from her final semester in high school to march for the first time.
“It’s kind of hypocritical not to be pro-life if you’re alive,” she said. “You’re one of the lucky people who wasn’t aborted. How can you say you’re for abortion when you could’ve been killed yourself?”
The Hyatt Regency in downtown Washington served as the headquarters for many of the pro-life events. After arriving at the hotel at 10 a.m. on Jan. 24, the activists had a choice of catching up on sleep, sightseeing or sidewalk counseling at a nearby Planned Parenthood.
Throughout the time in Washington, Planned Parenthood was referred to as “abortion mill” by several protesters and speakers scattered around the scene. Attitudes toward the opposition generally took on a conversational approach rather than yelling and pointing.
Last year, according to organizers, pro-choice activists crashed the youth rally by interrupting speakers and chanting as they held homemade signs. This year, the organizers opened the event by allowing any pro-choice individuals present at the rally time to chant or protest however they chose. The crowd waited. No one stood up and the rally continued without interruption.
Peggy Hamill, director of Pro-Life Wisconsin and a member of St. Mary Parish, Elm Grove, has gone to the March for Life for the past 18 years. She’s noticed a change in the age demographic during that time.
“The young people will not stand for anything less than the truth … and they have recognized what the pro-life movement has been telling the world, all these years, is the truth,” Hamill said.
Before the March for Life there were two youth Masses and rallies, one at the Verizon Center, in downtown D.C., and the other at the Comcast Center, on the University of Maryland campus.
At the Verizon Center, more than 17,000 young adults packed the arena to listen to live music and inspirational words from Cardinal Donald Wuerl.
“I think we’re seeing with each passing year more and more young people saying ‘this is the right thing to do,’ that abortion is not the answer to our problems,” Cardinal Wuerl said in a press conference before the rally. “Sometimes it’s a matter of patience. It’s been 40 years since that (Roe v. Wade) decision. They wandered in the desert for 40 years before they came to the Promised Land. You never put time limits on God’s plans, but you just keep doing the best you can do.”
From the conclusion of Mass at noon, until roughly 4 p.m., the streets were filled with pro-life activists. Some went with the crowd on the main route, some went on their own route, but all of them ended up on the National Mall between the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capital.
Police blocked off all side streets on the mall, allowing for a smooth path to the Supreme Court.
It was a cold, cold march up the hill with temperatures lower than in Wisconsin. Regardless of the weather, between 500,000 and 650,000 people – based on various media reports – made the pilgrimage to the Supreme Court. In front of the steps a small stage was set up about three feet above the sidewalk and with a simple PA system. Individuals stepped up to the microphone to tell their personal stories about abortion.
There was talk of some pro-choice protesters present at the Supreme Court building but any chants sung by that group were easily muted by the crowd.
Fr. Luke Strand, vocations director at Saint Francis de Sales Seminary, said this year’s march showed how much the younger generation really cares about this issue.
“We talk about it over and over but the youthfulness of the march struck me this year more than ever,” Fr. Strand said. “Something inside young people has told them abortion is wrong and that there are people within their generation that are not with them.”
Hamill said the march always energizes her when she returns to Wisconsin.
“It gives you such a sense of hope, such a shot in the arm to see so many wonderful, dedicated people from all generations,” Hamill said. “We can move forward with confidence and means translated with faith.”