January 31, 2024 // Diocese

Pro-Life Supporters March in Fort Wayne, South Bend

The annual March for Life in Fort Wayne celebrated its 50th anniversary on Saturday, January 27, as hundreds of people gathered at the downtown Saint Francis Performing Arts Center on Berry Street for a pre-march rally.

After an opening prayer and a roll call of elected officials and candidates who were participating in the march, attendees heard the testimony of Bettina Herrmann, who found herself in an abusive relationship and had two abortions. She told the audience that only through forming a relationship with Christ was she able to heal the wounds caused by her abortions. Now, Herrmann works at the pro-life Cleveland Pregnancy Center and helps other post-abortive women through the Deeper Still ministry.

Joe Romie
State Senator Liz Brown holds up a sign during her keynote address at the March for Life Rally at the Saint Francis Performing Arts Center on Saturday, January 27.

Indiana State Senator Liz Brown delivered the keynote address at the rally and noted the significance of the 50th anniversary of the local March for Life, which was sponsored by Right to Life of Northeast Indiana.

“The late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, ‘I think, generally, in our society, real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time,’” Brown said, adding, “You didn’t think I’d start with a quote from Justice Ginsburg, did you? But here’s the thing, true enduring change does take time. Changing laws, overcoming core challenges, and more importantly, changing hearts and minds takes time. It may take generations. It may even take 50 years. But when something is worth it, it’s worth staying in the fight. And that’s why you’re here today. You’re here because unborn children matter. You’re here because women matter. You’re here because life matters.”

Brown noted that the overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022 would have been impossible without those who so strongly advocated for life in the womb throughout the last 50 years.

Scott Warden
Members of Students for Life hold the March for Life banner outside of the Saint Francis Performing Arts Center in Fort Wayne at the beginning of the 50th annual march, which was held on Saturday, January 27.

“We in the Pro-Life Movement knew we were in for the long haul when the Supreme Court declared a so-called right to abortion, even through nine months, over 50 years ago in 1973,” she said. “The pro-life movement got its footing early on with these marches, literally one foot in front of the other, every year, and the marches grew, and our movement grew. Incredibly, here we are, for the 50th annual march in Fort Wayne. … Thank you to all of you here today for refusing to accept the status quo, for fighting to prove every life has worth – 50 years of declaring all life matters.”

Photos by Joe Romie
Pro-life supporters march past the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Fort Wayne during the 50th annual March for Life on Saturday, January 27.

Brown touted the pro-life laws the State Legislature has passed since the Supreme Court’s 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that allowed individual states to regulate abortion practices within their own borders.

“If it hadn’t been for our strong culture of life, all the hard work to pass all those pro-life bills, and tireless efforts of all of you in this room, we would never have been able to become the first state in the nation to pass a near total ban on abortion,” she said. “We are seeing lives being saved. In the month before the bill went into effect, there were 698 abortions in Indiana that month. In the month after, 14 – a 98-percent drop.”

Joe Romie
Children stand outside of the E. Ross Adair Federal Building in Fort Wayne, which is where the march concluded.

Brown reminded those in attendance that still more needs done to advocate for all human life.

“We need to continue to march … and others will follow, because we are a beacon for other conservative states, providing a model to follow as we work toward changing hearts and minds,” Brown said. “When you step outside these doors today and make your way to the Federal Building, know that each step you take is part of a long journey, one that has required the dedication of generations. Each step takes us one step closer to changing hearts and minds and saving every mother and child. Because real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time. Others will follow if you are willing to lead. Now let’s take this first step and another and another for the 50th year and counting and lead on this March for Life.”

400 Brave the Cold in South Bend

Despite below-freezing temperatures and threat of heavy snow in the area, around 400 pro-life supporters gave witness to the sanctity of all human life, especially the unborn, by participating in annual March for Life in downtown South Bend on Friday, January 19.

Many attended the preliminary rally at the hall of the Knights of Columbus, Council 553, where Reverend Sylvester Williams Jr., founder of the South Bend gospel radio station WUBS and pastor of ICU Ministries, gave the keynote speech. Williams encouraged people to “not back down in our efforts to stand for the dignity of life” and urged them to support moms and babies in need. The rally also included prayer for our country in its remaining challenges to support life in wake of the reversal of the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision.

Photos provided by Right to Life Michiana
Reverend Sylvester Williams Jr. speaks during his keynote address at the South Bend March for Life Rally on Friday, January 19.

“Although we are grateful for the strides made in Indiana since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, we continue to march in solemn remembrance of more than 65 million lives lost to abortion in our country and to advocate for love and support of moms and babies in our community,” said Antonio Marchi, Executive Director of Right to Life Michiana, which helped to organize the event.

Young people carry the Right to Life Michiana banner at the South Bend March for Life on Friday, January 19.

Williams and Marchi each encouraged pro-life supporters to continue to accompany mothers and their children who are facing difficult times. To that end, attendees of the rally and march collected “hundreds of thousands of diapers, wipes, and other products to help moms and babies in need at local pregnancy centers,” Marchi said.

Marchi added that groups from several schools from the South Bend area attended the march, including Mishawaka Catholic School, St. Jude School, Cathedral School of St. Matthew, St. Thomas More Academy, Trinity School at Greenlawn, the University of Notre Dame, and Holy Cross College.

Pro-life supporters trudge through snow-covered sidewalks during the march in South Bend.

Scott Warden and Phil Niswonger contributed to this story.

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