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Posts Tagged ‘Roe vs. Wade’

Nellie Gray listened to the breaking news, not believing her ears.

How is this possible? she wondered. Surely everyone agrees that slavery was wrong, treating men, women, and children as less than human. And have we already forgotten the horrors of Nazi Germany, where revolting experiments were performed on babies?

Nellie’s thoughts transported her back to the days of World War II, when she served as a corporal in the Woman’s Army Corps. And though nearly thirty years had passed since Nazi war criminals faced a panel of judges at the Nuremberg Trials, the atrocities revealed at that time remained fresh in her mind.

Nellie bristled. How can our Supreme Court sanction another atrocity against innocent victims?

And she began to consider what might be done to reverse the decision of Roe vs. Wade, handed down on January 22, 1973.

Not long after a group from Long Island, already involved in the right-to-life movement, asked Nellie to host a meeting in her home. They desired to expand their local efforts to the national stage. “You live near the Capitol—it’s the perfect location,” the spokesperson explained.

Later Nellie would quip, “Be careful who you let into your dining room because you may wind up being the president of a corporation.”[1]

The group first met in October 1973, and someone presented the idea of a march, to be held in Washington D. C. on the first anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. They hoped to draw thousands of people, which would urge Congress to overturn the court’s decision.

Nellie was asked to arrange for speakers, because of her contacts in and around Washington as a federal lawyer. The one role she was unable to fill was emcee, so Nellie provided that function herself.

The event did raise awareness, as twenty thousand people gathered in Washington, and peacefully marched twenty-one blocks on Constitution Avenue to the steps of the Supreme Court Building.

It was supposed to be a one-time-event.

“We thought we were going to march one time and Congress would certainly pay attention to 20,000 people coming in the middle of winter to tell them to overturn Roe vs. Wade,” Nellie said.[2]

But their expectation proved erroneous. And because there were leftover funds after the ‘74 event, someone suggested holding another march the following year.

Nellie decided to retire from practicing law and established the March for Life and Education Defense Fund, dedicating the rest of her life to the pro-life cause. She and the vice-president, Terrence Scanlon, took no salaries; Nellie ran the organization from her home.

As the decades passed, support for their cause continued to grow. In recent years, well over 100,000 have participated in the March for Life, enduring the cold and even snow to draw attention to the plight of unborn babies. In 2011, fifty-three members of Congress spoke at the March for Life Rally.

Also important to the cause: neonatal research, proving fetuses develop much more rapidly than we knew in 1973. For example:

  • Within the first few weeks, the beginnings of a face become apparent.
  • The heartbeat can be heard at 6 weeks.
  • The neural tube (brain, spinal cord, and other neural tissue of the central nervous system) is well formed at 8 weeks.
  • Fingers and toes are easily distinguishable by 11 weeks.
  • Thumb-sucking has been photographed at 18 weeks.
Ultrasound of 12-week old fetus

Of course, Nellie Gray and the March for Life participants have been criticized for their stand against abortion. But she explained her position this way:

“God Almighty created man and woman in his own image, and we recognize that. The United States Constitution recognizes that human beings are endowed with a right to life. We must carry out our patriotism and our love of God through such events.”[3]

In 1998, Nellie asserted the eventual overturn of Roe vs. Wade. “I have complete, utter faith that we are going to get this,” she said.[4]

Nellie Gray led every March for Life through 2012, with undaunted enthusiasm and conviction. But in August of that year, at age 88, she died of natural causes in her home.

I’ve often wondered if good news from Earth becomes known in heaven. If so, might Nellie know what happened last week–that ten years after her arrival in heaven, a giant step has been taken here toward the right-to-life of unborn babies, that her faith is being rewarded and her conviction is becoming fact?

I’d like to think so. 

Notes    


[1]https://religionnews.com/1998/01/15/news-profile-nellie-gray-25-years-behind-the-march-for-life/

[2] https://religionnews.com/2012/08/14/march-for-life-leader-nellie-gray-dead-at-88/

[3] https://heavy.com/news/2017/01/nellie-gary-march-for-life-founder-biography-anti-abortion-pro-life-quotes-2017-date/

[4] https://religionnews.com/1998/01/15/news-profile-nellie-gray-25-years-behind-the-march-for-life/

Other Sources:

http://www.marchforlife.org

http://www.todayscatholic.org

Photo credits: http://www.flickr.com; http://www.wikipedia.org; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.rawpixel.com; http://www.wikimedia.com; http://www.canva.com.

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