Standing up: Pro-life group heads to Austin, advocates anti-abortion laws

Tulsa, Okla. freshman Rachel Leland protests next to a pro-life display on Fountain Mall on Wednesday, January 22, 2014.  "We just thought it was appropriate to represent the other side of the debate," Leland said Travis Taylor | Lariat Photo Editor
Tulsa, Okla. freshman Rachel Leland protests next to a pro-life display on Fountain Mall on Wednesday, January 22, 2014. “We just thought it was appropriate to represent the other side of the debate,” Leland said
Travis Taylor | Lariat Photo Editor

By Rae Jefferson
Staff Writer

A group of Baylor students will join thousands of demonstrators in the state’s capital this weekend for the pro-life cause.

Bears for Life, an on-campus pro-life student organization, as well as students with St. Peter’s Catholic Student Center and St. Mary’s Catholic Church, will attend the 2014 Texas Rally for Life from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday in Austin.

Bears for Life co-adviser Molly Wilmington said the pro-life organization is expecting to transport about 20 students to the event.

“This is something the organization does every year,” she said. “I’ve been going for several years, and some of these students have been attending these rallies since birth.”

The event is being held in hopes of showing “the media and our elected officials that Texas is pro-life,” according to the event’s website.

Katy freshman Emily Gilcrease, a member of Bears for Life, said this march will be the climax to her first semester with the organization.

“This will be my first march,” she said. “But I feel like it’s important to defend the lives of those who can’t defend themselves.”

The rally will also commemorate the 41st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling, a Supreme Court decision that originally legalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, but has paved the way for current abortion laws.

Wilmington said this anniversary is the reason Bears for Life set up blue and pink flags across Fountain Mall Wednesday with signs displaying abortion-related facts and resources for post-abortion men and women.

“I don’t think a lot of people realize how huge the number of aborted children is,” she said, referencing a sign that provided an estimated number of American abortions. “It’s up to 55 million since 1973, which is when Roe v. Wade was passed.”

The first 30 minutes of the rally will serve as a time for participants to gather together, followed by a 30-minute march, and will end outside the city’s Capitol building.

Attorney General Greg Abbott is the event’s keynote speaker, although other Texas leaders will also address attendees.

“The speakers educate the crowd,” Wilmington said. “They don’t assume that everyone knows everything about abortion. It’s an educational rally.”

Pro-Life Waco, a local pro-life organization, is listed on the event’s website as one of the first 10 members of the 2014 Texas Rally for Life Host Committee.

Wilmington identified Pro-life Waco director John Pisciotta as a former advisor for the student organization.

Pisciotta said joining the rally as a member of the committee is really about showing support for the pro-life cause.

“You want to show that your side has vitality,” he said. “Even though I’m an old man, I still want to show that our side has youth and rally for life.”

These kinds of events almost always include demonstrations from pro-choice advocates.

“I’m sure there will be people from the other people side who come out and peacefully demonstrate while we march,” Pisciotta said. “But we’re just going to go out and march for this cause.”

Wilmington said post-abortion men and women, or men and women who have are likely to make up a large percentage of attendees.

“This is a good way for them to come together and educate people on what they wish they had known,” she said.

Gilcrease said she really hopes people are able to understand the organization’s basic mission.

“We’re advocating for life,” she said. “We’re choosing life, and it’s just what we’re supposed to do.”