News & Features
Struggle against abortion marking 30th anniversary
archived from: 2003-01-17
by: Chuck Moody
Jan. 22 will mark the 30th anniversary of the U.S.
Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on
demand throughout all nine months of pregnancy in the
The 1973 rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court in the
cases of Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton
accomplished the nearly impossible, said Susan
Rauscher, diocesan secretary for pastoral and social
“They place a mother in opposition to her own child and
convince her that that is a good thing,” Rauscher said.
“For years, we labored under the illusion that abortion
was something women wanted. What we have learned
from women who have had abortions is that abortion is
not what women want — it is what they choose when
they feel they have run out of choices.”
Abortion has left millions in deep emotional anguish as
they try to come to terms with the loss of their child due
directly to their abortion decision, Rauscher said.
“With ever-advancing technology, such as 4-D imaging,
it is impossible to continue to labor under the illusion
that an unborn child is not a member of our human
family,” she said.
“The death of every child at the hands of an abortionist
takes a tremendous toll. We are a nation mourning for
millions of deaths and suffering for what could have
been but will never be.”
Since this country first began “contemplating the idea of
killing the most vulnerable,” there have been many
dedicated people working to restore protection for the
unborn, Rauscher said.
“With unabated focus these people from across the
country have struggled to re-establish the inherent
recognition of the worth and dignity of unborn children
as members of the human family,” she said.
“Some have come to the movement taking seriously
God’s call to us to be stewards of one another. Others
have joined the movement wanting to ensure all civil
rights for all people. Still others have toiled in the
movement bringing help and care to those in need.
“But all have been committed to putting an end to the
indiscriminate destruction of innocent life.”
One of the organizations that has been working to
restore protection for the unborn is People Concerned
for the Unborn Child, which says it is “Pennsylvania’s
oldest and largest grassroots pro-life organization.”
Women Concerned for the Unborn Child, the original
name of People Concerned for the Unborn Child, was
founded in 1969, so when the U.S. Supreme Court
handed down its decisions, the group was “organized,
angry, determined, but we had no clue as to what could
be done,” said Helen Cindrich, executive director of the
Pittsburgh chapter of PCUC.
Cindrich has participated in all 29 Marches for Life in
Washington, D.C. The march marks the anniversary of
the U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
“When Eileen Vogel called a meeting to plan the first
March for Life, I thought it was a fine idea, but my
attitude was, ‘Gee, I hope somebody goes,’” Cindrich
“The thought of a one-day bus trip over the mountains
all the way to Washington, D.C., in the dead of winter
was really far-fetched. Eileen was one of the pro-life
activists who were part of the civil rights movement of
the ‘60s, so her enthusiasm was contagious.
“Our bus was one of 20 or so from the Pittsburgh area.
We were so new at this project that some folks
chartered Greyhound for the trip.
Our bus had people of all ages from several parishes.
Someone brought a guitar, and we sang and prayed
our way over the mountains.”
Cindrich was pregnant “and delightedly so,” she
“The child beneath my heart was cherished, loved,
protected,” Cindrich said. “My heart wept for the babies
who were unwanted. Their mothers must be the
saddest women in the world.”
Gleaming in bright winter sunshine, the Capitol
towered as a monument to liberty, Cindrich said.
“Nellie Gray called a rally on the front steps of this
magnificent monument,” she said. “It was an hour of
inspiration, dedication and 20,000 people pledging
their lives to regaining the sanctity of human life.
“Surely, the world was watching as we walked four
abreast to form a circle of humanity around this symbol
of our great nation. As we rounded the final corner to
return to the marble steps, the other end of our throng
was just beginning their circuit.
“Only when we got home that night did we realize that
the American media and their most trusted fatherly
icon, Walter Cronkite, had totally ignored us. That bitter
lesson has been learned by all who marched for the
past 30 years.”
Subsequent pilgrimages to Washington, D.C., on Jan.
22 blend into one long journey on behalf of God’s little
ones, Cindrich said.
“Truly, this day is blessed in that we are joyful in our
task, and we have returned to it willingly, hopefully,
prayerfully every year for three decades,” she said. “At
the end of each Jan. 22, we are weary and glad to be
home, but we are never tempted to quit.
“There is no thought of stopping or even postponing the
work of changing hearts and minds until the day when
‘Choose Life’ is the song in the heart of every man,
woman and child in the world.”
The theme of this year’s March for Life is “Affirm the
Sanctity of Each Human Life by Word and Deed.”
“With the March for Life, we remember the over 40
million children who have fallen by choice in our country
since Jan. 22, 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court
decriminalized the protection of our unborn children,”
said Mary Lou Gartner, southwestern Pennsylvania
director of the March for Life and political action chair of
PCUC again is coordinating southwestern
Pennsylvania’s participation and transportation of more
than 120 chartered buses to Washington, D.C.
“We memorialize this day with renewed hope as we
peacefully and prayerfully bring our message to
Congress,” Gartner said.
Marchers plan to carry signs that read “Defend Life” and
“Stop Abortion Now.” The marchers will rally at noon
near the Washington Monument.
After hearing from march leaders, participants will
march up Constitution Avenue to the Capitol and past
the Supreme Court. Local participants will wear yellow
decals with black “Southwestern PA Pro-Life” printed on
The theme of this year’s march is a call “for all
Americans to free ourselves from abortion evils,”
“To do this we begin anew to affirm the sanctity of each
human life in existence at fertilization, and we shall
carry out our duty to assure that pro-life words are
fulfilled by pro-life deeds,” she said.
“Aside from the atrocious number of lives taken through
abortion over the years, a mentality has evolved which
blindly accepts cloning, stem cell and fetal tissue
research, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.”
The Supreme Court decisions were supposed to be a
panacea, Gartner said.
“But no amount of spin changes the reality that abortion
stops a beating heart,” she said. “No amount of
cover-up by the majority of the mainstream media can
change the truth that the child who lives in the womb is
a separate and distinct member of the human family.
“Through our persistence, that we have shown by
continuously marching for life regardless of the snow
and cold, we will prove that a defining day in history will
soon prove that we are a nation of the culture of life.”
Many wonder why anyone would commit themselves so
completely to making illegal an action that is endorsed
by society as necessary, Rauscher said.
“I believe the answer can be seen in this country’s
reaction to the Sept. 11 terrorism attack,” she said.
“This country mourned and grieved at the
indiscriminate destruction of human life.
“If you understand that reaction, is it so hard to
understand the grief and sadness that so many feel for
the more than 43 million lives that have been destroyed
at the hands of abortionists in our country?”