By Joe Pisani
HARTFORD—The 2023 Connecticut March for Life on March 22 is an opportunity for people of faith to rally at the State Capitol and send a powerful prolife message to legislators as they begin discussing a constitutional amendment that would legalize abortion anytime during pregnancy.
“It’s important people realize that since the Dobbs (v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization) decision, the battle now is here in Hartford to protect life and to stop what we anticipate will be an effort by abortionists to see a state constitutional amendment to guarantee the right to take innocent life,” said Christopher C. Healy, Executive Director of the Connecticut Catholic Conference.
“We anticipate that. We welcome that fight, and we are ready to deal with it. So we are urging people to re-engage on a basic level through their parishes and pro-life ministries to reach out to their elected officials and be heard.”
The U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade after almost 50 years left it up to the states to debate issues, such as when life begins and restrictions on abortion.
The Connecticut March for Life, which brought 3,000 people to rally at the State Capitol last year, is held at a time when legislative committees begin discussing issues, such as assisted suicide and parental notification for children under 16 who seek abortion services.
“Polling shows that even prochoice people overwhelmingly support parental notification for minor children, and we think it’s a good place for us to start to engage people in the faith community,” Healy said. “While there was a lot of celebration over the (Dobbs Supreme Court decision), this now is where it always belonged, which is closer to the people at the State Capitol.”
Deacon David W. Reynolds, the Catholic Conference’s associate director for public policy, said they have been fighting for years to get parental notification in Connecticut.
“There is great opposition to it, and I’m not sure why, since Massachusetts and Rhode Island have strict parental consent laws, so that you have to have the parents’ permission,” he said. “But in Connecticut, we have nothing.”
Deacon Reynolds encouraged Catholics to sign up for email alerts about bills before the General Assembly. They can do this through the legislative action network of the conference by going to action.ctcatholicpac.org.
Recent surveys on abortion include a Marist Poll commissioned by the Knights of Columbus that showed 71 percent of Americans support legal limits on abortion, 54 percent oppose taxpayer funding of abortion and 81 percent believe laws can protect both the mother and her unborn child. Deacon Reynolds also believes many pro-life people are hesitant to speak out because they fear being labeled “right wing” or “extremist.”
“It’s not easy being prolife in Connecticut, which is a pro-abortion state, but people find that the March is a galvanizing event for them because they see they’re not alone, they have partners, and they speak with one voice,” he said. “The March helps unify and energize the pro-life community, and it gives them courage and confidence.”
Healy says the March is an ecumenical event that unites Catholics, Hispanic evangelical communities, African-American churches, Black Baptist churches and other faith-based organizations, such as the Family Institute of Connecticut and the Knights of Columbus.
“Our event last year was one of the larger demonstrations at the Capitol, with 3,000 people,” Healy said. “We were respectful and vocal, and it actually stopped the proceedings in the House because they could hear us outside, applauding and cheering.”
This year, he said, there will be no restrictions, and participants will be able to go into the Capitol to talk with legislators and express their views on prolife issues. “We
believe that when you really have the hard discussion based on love and understanding, we win people over,” Healy said. “The March for Life will be one effort in that fight and galvanize us at a time when votes will start to be taken on some of these issues in mid-March.”
He also believes there are pro-life legislators in the General Assembly who will listen.
“We have always argued that we need to do a better job electing pro-life candidates, but they’re there, and we have to make our case and seek their support,” Healy said.
Deacon Reynolds, a founder of the Two Hearts Pregnancy Care Center in Torrington, praised the work the 21 pregnancy resource centers are doing throughout Connecticut.
“We are there to help women have a real choice,” he said. “They walk in, and our centers talk to them about three options: abortion, keeping the child or adoption. We don’t try to twist women’s arms. We are there to help. Most of the women who come in need someone to listen to them.”
He said Two Hearts will help women and give them supplies and support for the first couple of years of the child’s life and also direct them to other agencies for assistance.
“The pregnancy resource centers are well-respected in the communities they serve despite what pro-abortion people say, and the clients are very satisfied with the help and assistance they get,” Deacon Reynolds said.
Healy urged all Catholics to get involved in the debate through their parishes and their participation in the Connecticut March for Life on March 22, which will include a rally at the Capitol Building at noon, and a march around Bushnell Park at 1 pm.
“We’re looking for people to spend a little part of their time between now and June to make calls and contact their legislators,” he said. “Nothing will get their attention more than someone coming down and saying, ‘On this bill I need you to vote no and here’s why.’ Usually when they have to face a voter—a flesh-and-blood person who feels passionately about this—it creates a level of uncomfortableness for them.”
Healy urged fellow pro-life Catholics to get engaged in the legislative process.
“There are plenty of people in every parish in this state who are pro-life who can make a difference,” he said.