Mary Clare Mulhern, Contributing Writer
On Saturday, Crusaders for Life chartered a bus to transport a group of 29 University of Dallas students to and from the Texas Rally for Life in Austin. Upon arrival, the students attended a conference called “Boots on the Ground: Pro-life College Student Conference,” hosted by Texas Right to Life.
One of the conference speakers, Bobby Schindler, brother of Terri Schiavo, spoke about the growing problem of euthanasia in America. Against the wishes of her family, Schiavo, who suffered from severe brain trauma in 1990, had her feeding tubes removed in 2005. They were removed by order of her husband, Michael Schiavo, who stood to inherit close to one million dollars upon the death of his wife. Although Terri Schiavo did not need more than food and water to survive and her family was willing to take care of her, she starved to death in 2005. Schindler spoke of the horrible physical effects this starvation had on his sister, saying that she looked even worse than those in the pictures of the concentration camps during World War II.
His talk was an important reminder that the Rally for Life was focused on protecting life at all stages.
Senior Ivanna Bond, president of Crusaders for Life, commented, “As we work to pass pro-life legislation, we need to make sure that we’re not ignoring euthanasia and end-of-life issues.”
After the conference, the UD students joined thousands of others to march around the Capitol. Police cars barricaded the roads intersecting the route so that they could march in safety. The march ended behind the Capitol, where a microphone and podium had been set up for the interdenominational event. The keynote speaker was Attorney General Greg Abbot, who is currently running for governor of Texas. After reminding the crowd that he had helped pass House Bill 2 in Austin this past summer, a pro-life victory, he pledged to continue to support pro-life legislation.
People in the crowd carried signs with statements such as “My generation will end abortion,” “We stand for life” and “Women need love, not abortion.” The UD students were near the middle of the crowd, and it was impossible to see the beginning or the end of it from where they walked. Chants such as “Hey hey! Ho ho! Roe v. Wade has got to go!” broke out in the crowd, and several of the marchers struck up conversations with the strangers around them.
Junior Jessie Johnson had attended the Dallas March for Life the weekend before and was in Austin for the first time. She said that the atmosphere of the crowd was “very peaceful and joyful — we were celebrating life.” Johnson said she experienced a feeling of solidarity with the rest of the pro-life movement because groups like this had gathered all over the United States in the past week, and they were fighting for the same thing: the basic human right to life.
The rally closed with a round of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Strains of “As he died to make men holy, let us die to make them free, while God is marching on” echoed across the Capitol’s square. This was senior Josh Elzner’s favorite moment.
“It was the most prayerful part of the day,” he said.