Abortion opponents rally, march in Baton Rouge

While many of the signs protesting abortion at Saturday’s fourth annual Louisiana Life March were mass-produced, one handmade sign bearing the photograph of a young man stood high above the crowd.

“He is our only grandchild, and he wouldn’t be alive today if his birth mother, who was sitting in an abortion clinic 20 years ago, had not had a change of heart,” said Roy Daigle of Metairie.

“He is a gift,” Daigle said, his voice cracking with emotion, “to have a grandson who loves me and I can love him.”

Daigle and his wife, Gail, were among a large crowd, estimated by State Capitol police at between 2,500 and 3,500, that marched from the Old State Capitol to the new Capitol for a rally on the steps.

This year’s march theme was, “Adoption: The Power of Possibility.”

“The message of adoption is part and parcel of the pro-life cause,” said Ben Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life. “For every child placed for adoption, statistics show there are 36 couples waiting for a child.”

The annual march commemorates the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in all 50 states.

Archbishop Gregory Aymond, of New Orleans, said more than a thousand Louisiana young people are expected to attend a national march later this week in Washington, D.C. Another anti-abortion march will be held Saturday in Shreveport.

During the half-hour walk, some people sang hymns or said the rosary while others chatted or walked in silence under a warm and sunny sky.

Mary Massey, of Houma, marched with her daughter, Sarah Massey, 13, and her friend Elizabeth Boudreaux, 11.

“They have a strong belief that we need to respect life, and so they felt they needed to come,” Mary Massey said.

Many teens and younger children carried colorful signs declaring, “We are the pro-life generation.”

Theresa Grego and her daughter, Katherine, 14, and Kaitlynn Whitt, 15, were marching with Carol Babineaux, all from Prairieville. “I’m against abortion,” Whitt said.

U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., told the group, “You young people are going to make the difference and be the ones who are going to end abortion in America. It is up to you to change hearts and minds. We are counting on you all.”

Program emcee Clapper said it was important to keep protesting abortion because, “Every day in our state, 22 unborn babies are denied the joys of life.”

After the program, hundreds of folks mingled under a large tent housing dozens of information tables from anti-abortion organizations. Three large motor homes of anti-abortion groups also were present to explain their missions of providing ultrasounds and other medical services to expectant mothers.

The event was sponsored by Louisiana Right to Life, Louisiana Family Forum, Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Life and Justice Committee, the Louisiana Baptist Convention, the Knights of Columbus, Baton Rouge Right to Life, the Hippocratic Resource and Concerned Women for America.