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BOSTON -- The dozens of people who marched at Boston Common on Jan. 29 to voice their opposition to abortion came prepared to face two different kinds of extreme climates: bitter temperatures and the increasingly pro-abortion political landscape.
"We had no idea what the turnout would be," Mary Moser, a member of Boston Pro-Life Future who helped lead the event, said after the march was held on a day with below-zero wind chills.
"We're so happy to see people (of) all ages here and standing up for life for Boston. We're just doing our best to fight abortion extremism, especially in a climate like ours, and with the new administration that we have. It's encouraging to see everyone come out, especially on a frigid day like this," she said.
The event took place exactly one month after the passage of the ROE Act, which significantly deregulated abortion laws in Massachusetts, and only a week after the inauguration of President Joe Biden, who is expected to reverse many of the pro-life policies of the Trump administration.
Since the annual National March for Life in Washington, D.C., was taking place in a virtual format, the Boston march gave people an opportunity to show their support for life on the local level.
The march was sponsored by Students for Life and Pure in Heart America. They had originally planned to circle Boston Common twice, but they limited the march to one circuit in light of the cold weather.
It began at the Parkman Bandstand, where Moser and other speakers shared remarks about why they were marching and gave instructions regarding the route.
Father Andrew Beauregard, FPO, read aloud a quote from former President Barack Obama opposing the argument that people should "leave their religion at the door before they enter into the public square." Father Beauregard quoted Obama as saying that "the majority of great reformers in American history were not only motivated by faith but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause. To say that men and women should not interject their personal morality into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law, by definition, is a codification of morality."
Fernando Limbo, executive director of Pure in Heart America, spoke about "what the great writers have said (is) a culture of death."
"What we're here as a community today, in this freezing cold weather, is to bring about a reversal of that, to be able to show that death is not the only option, that there is profound life," he said.
Rather than turn a blind eye to injustice or lash out in anger at opponents, Limbo proposed what he called "the Samaritan option," which means to help every person see their own inherent dignity. He encouraged marchers to meet people's eyes as they walked and let God's love pour out of them to everyone they met.
"Give that gift of love to every single person that we encounter today on the street so that they can understand that not only are we here fighting for the unborn, we're also here to fight for their life too, that they are worth it, that they are loved by God in the same way that every single child in the womb is loved by God," Limbo said.
The last speaker before the march began was Teresa Larkin, executive director of Your Options Medical, which provides free pregnancy services to help women choose life. She announced that her organization is opening a fourth center, which will be located on Beacon Street in Brookline, "in the heart of the abortion district."
"We hope this lovely, pro-life Students for Life generation will be part of us getting this center open and being able to offer life-affirming ultrasound support and help to young people in the Boston area," Larkin said.
The assembly kept to the sidewalks, skirting around sections of the park that were blocked off with fencing to undergo renovations. Some participants carried banners or signs with pro-life slogans.
The march ended with participants gathering outside the Statehouse, where they prayed the rosary together and heard closing remarks.
Rita Russo spoke about the history and mission of 40 Days for Life, the biannual campaign to fast and pray for an end to abortion and hold prayer vigils outside abortion facilities. Since beginning in Bryan, Texas, in 2004, it has grown to encompass over 1,000 cities in 63 countries. Through these campaigns, over 18,000 mothers and babies have been saved from abortion, over 200 workers have left the abortion industry, and over 100 abortion centers have closed.
Russo, who directs the Boston chapter of 40 Days for Life, passed out flyers with information about the next campaign, which will take place from Ash Wednesday, Feb. 17, until Palm Sunday, March 28. The goal in Boston, she said, will be to hold vigils outside Planned Parenthood every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
"Let's show the world that God cares about the preborn," she said.
Among those who attended the march were a group of students from Arlington Catholic High School who have participated in the National March for Life in Washington, D.C., for the past two years. In fact, that experience inspired them to form a pro-life group at their school.
"We came back from the March for Life last year inspired and looking for an opportunity to spread the pro-life message back to our school," said junior Thomas Cahill.
Another junior, Liana Winans, said it was "really inspiring, especially in this climate," to see that many people came to the march, including young people and women.
"I'm really hopeful for the pro-life movement," she said.
Natalia Kay, also a junior, added that they are "the generation to look to now."
"It starts right here," she said, adding that the number of people who came out to march in below-freezing temperatures "shows how many people are willing to go the distance to save our unborn children."