By PEGGY MOEN
ST. PAUL — The Wanderer asked Leo LaLonde, president of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, if he ever wished Roe v. Wade had been handed down in June instead of in January.
“It would have been convenient,” said LaLonde, “but more convenient if it had not been handed down at all.”
MCCL’s leaders had decided on January 21 to move the January 22 memorial rally into the capitol rotunda because of predicted dangerous wind chills.
The prediction proved accurate: Bundled-up pro-lifers struggled against a knifing wind to cross the icy capitol grounds and enter the rotunda.
Cong. John Kline (R., Minn.), when he addressed the crowd, said he applauded MCCL’s leadership for the decision to move inside: “We’re all better off, especially the little kids.”
This is only the second time in 40 years of annual rallies that MCCL has decided to move the event indoors.
LaLonde told The Wanderer that he hadn’t heard of any cancellations from expected rally participants. MCCL got the word out as fast as possible about the shift to the rotunda, he said, but some groups may have had to cancel their buses before that.
The number of participants was hard to estimate, said LaLonde, as the pro-lifers were gathering throughout the rotunda area.
But the would-be marchers filled all three levels of the rotunda, and no doubt numbered in the thousands.
In his comments to The Wanderer and in his remarks to the rally, LaLonde stressed that “during the last three years, more [pro-life] state legislation has been passed than at any other time in the history of the movement.”
This is because people are reacting to “the negativity of the present administration in regard to our issue.”
MCCL’s 2014 legislative agenda includes a bill requiring licensing and inspection of abortion facilities — “one we’d really like” to get passed, LaLonde told The Wanderer.
States inspect dog pounds, he said, and “especially given the Gosnell case” and similar travesties, a licensing and inspection measure is timely.
Ending taxpayer-funded abortions is another item in MCCL’s 2014 agenda.
Jan Ochsner, MCCL legislative associate, reminded the assembled pro-lifers that “in Minnesota, more than one-third of all abortions are paid for with our tax dollars. Rather than turning our backs on women and encouraging them to get a free abortion, we should be using that money — our tax dollars — to provide real help to women.”
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton vowed after being elected in 2010 to veto any and all pro-life measures, a promise he has so far kept faithfully.
But Ochsner, referring to Dayton, said: “We will be here long after you have gone. We will never give up.”
In his talk, Cong. Kline praised the success of pro-life measures in many states, but underlined the need for passage of federal legislation, such as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and the Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act.
Andrea Rau, MCCL legislative director, read greetings to the rally from Cong. Michele Bachmann (R., Minn.), Cong. Erik Paulsen (R., Minn.), and Cong. Collin Peterson (D., Minn.). She then introduced state pro-life officials present for the event.
Also honored at MCCL’s rally were members of Silent No More, who stood at the rotunda’s center. Silent No More is an organization of those who regret having an abortion.
Project Healing, a group devoted to helping women suffering because of a past abortion decision, had a booth set up to the side of the rotunda.
Dawn, who staffed the booth, told The Wanderer that “when you walk out of [the abortion facility], you believe the lie that it’s all going to go away.”
And “the choice you made puts you in this deep pit of shame.” Project Healing (projecthealingministries.org), she said, helps bring the “power of Christ” to heal that “deep, deep wound” that “affects every part of your life.”
Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat and Forgiven and Set Free Bible Study are parts of Project Healing.
To mourn the loss of over 56 million lives since Roe v. Wade, the rally concluded with its traditional playing of Taps by Bill Klein.
The pro-lifers left the capitol building for the glacial outdoors, heeding the invocation of Rev. Dave Langille, St. Martin’s by-the-Lake Episcopal Church, Minnetonka Beach, Minn.: “Send us out from here to do your will.”
LaLonde said at the outset of his talk: “The culture of death has spread over our land like this bitter winter season,” but “spring is coming, and with it new life.”