‘We believe it’s life from conception’: Hundreds gather for March for Life rally
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Well over 200 people converged on the steps of the Virginia state capitol to advocate for the pro-life movement.
The third annual March for Life was held Friday, coincidentally on the first day of early voting. Men, women, and families of all ages gathered to help protect the rights of the unborn.
“It always moves my heart that issue is so important to people that they would want to come and make a public witness and stand for the most vulnerable, the unborn,” said March for Life President Jeanne Mancini.
Abortion has been a controversial issue in Virginia for years. Nationally, the spotlight is now on Texas after the governor signed what’s known as the “heartbeat bill.”
“We’re in agreement with the six week, or at the first detection of a heartbeat; being able to protect that child,” said Teresa Pregnall with Concerned Women for American Virginians. “That’s a life, and we believe it’s life from conception.”
“A heartbeat is a heartbeat,” added Steven Davis, who is pro-life. “I watched my own son’s heartbeat, and it was the greatest day of my life.”
However, during the first Gubernatorial debate Thursday, Republican Glenn Youngkin, who describes himself as pro-life but says he supports exceptions for rape, incest or to save a mother’s life, said he would not have signed the Texas law but would support a “pain threshold bill” - banning abortions at 20 weeks.
Meanwhile, Democrat Terry McAuliffe has promised to be a brick wall against legislation that would prevent access to abortions.
“The difference between the two candidates could not be further,” Mancini said. “They are really extreme and different on these issues.”
“Abortion is time-sensitive, essential health care,” said Jamie Lockhart, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia. “One in four people of reproductive age who can get pregnant will have an abortion in their lifetime. People who have abortions deserve our compassion, and to have access to the best health care available — not to be stigmatized or villainized.”
Compassion and help are things Leslie Davis Blackwell agrees with.
“The truth is that abortion has a profound impact on our lives,” she added.
For 30 years, Blackwell says she battled with dealing with her decision to abort two of her pregnancies. On Friday, she briefly shared her story of moving forward with her life and pushing others to seek help.
“My hope and my prayer is that millions and millions of people, perhaps some of you here today, that are suffering in silence, seek help,” she said.
However, it’s clear the abortion issue will not fade away anytime soon, and the candidates for governor continue to make campaign stops across the Commonwealth.
“I think the science is pretty clear that babies can feel, babies can hear their mother and all that in the womb,” he added. “If we’re talking about science with COVID, then we also have to talk about science with babies, and babies are babies.”
Pro-life groups have called the current Virginia laws extreme and are worried about what could potentially happen in the future.
“We are hoping for change in the Gubernatorial mansion this year,” Mancini said.
“You are the ones that are going to march, not just around this Capitol, but straight to your local registrar and vote for pro-life candidates,” said The Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb. “…Join in restoring common-sense pro-life laws in our public policy here in the Commonwealth.”
However, not all marching in the area were in agreement.
“Her body, her choice,” chanted Derek Torstenson.
Torstenson, of Alexandria, was the sole person who showed up in opposition to the march.
“It’s not up to other people to tell what women can do with their bodies,” he said.
“Anti-abortion groups and politicians have tried to restrict access to abortion using medically unnecessary restrictions meant to shame and coerce people,” Lockhart added. “We should be working to expand access to health care, not take health care away. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia will not stop fighting until patients get the care they need free of stigma, no matter what.”
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