Nov. 8 rally comes on the anniversary of the passage of state's Proposal 3, will include Mass for Life at Lansing's St. Mary Cathedral
LANSING — The national March for Life in Washington, D.C., has become an annual pilgrimage for hundreds of thousands of pro-lifers every January.
But since the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court last year, and the subsequent passage of Michigan's widely permissive Proposal 3 in November's election, the issue of abortion has taken on a new urgency at the state level.
In response, pro-lifers in Michigan are turning their attention to Lansing next month as the epicenter of a new legal and spiritual battleground.
The first Michigan March for Life is set for Nov. 8, 2023, at the state capitol in Lansing, coinciding with the one-year anniversary of the passage of Proposal 3, which placed abortion rights on a pedestal in the Michigan state constitution.
The Michigan March for Life will mirror the national March for Life in many respects, with a Mass for Life scheduled to take place at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Lansing at 9:30 a.m. celebrated by Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit, with Bishop Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing delivering the homily.
Archbishop Vigneron will be at the rally following Mass on the Capitol lawn, along with other pro-life dignitaries. The march will be at noon from the capitol lawn to the Michigan Hall of Justice, the headquarters for the state's judicial branch of government.
“It’s going to be very similar to the Washington March for Life that coincided with when Roe v. Wade was decided in the 1970s,” Jacob Kanclerz, communication associate for the Michigan Catholic Conference, told Detroit Catholic. "The date coincides with when Michigan voters voted for Proposal 3, choosing to put the right to abortion in the state constitution. The event serves in one way to remind us of what we’re working against in our current political landscape.”
Kanclerz said march organizers are hoping as many as 5,000 people descend on Lansing on Nov. 8 to show the pro-life movement is still strong in Michigan, despite the setback of Proposal 3 and the advancement of the "Reproductive Health Act" in the Michigan Legislature, which critics warn would dramatically strip back protections against abuses in the abortion industry.
Chuck Gaidica, the longtime Channel 4 (WDIV-TV) personality who in 2022 told parishioners about his reversion back to the Catholic faith, will be the emcee for the march, and Bishop Boyea will give the opening prayer.
Amber Roseboom, vice president of operations for Right to Life Michigan, said the event will be an opportunity for pro-lifers of all political stripes and religious backgrounds to gather on a day when the Legislature is scheduled to be in session to show there is a vocal portion of the electorate that wants to see its leaders craft policies that promote a culture of life.
“The March for Life is an opportunity for people of all political persuasions and backgrounds and walks of life to come together and proclaim the defense of the rights of women and the rights of the unborn,” Roseboom said.
The rally begins at 11 a.m., but organizers are encouraging people to arrive at the Capitol around 10 a.m., or when Mass at St. Mary Cathedral is over.
Encounter, a Christian music group from Michigan, will perform before the rally, which will include testimony from Genecia Davis, a woman who suffered from abortion and now runs the Shame Free Gigi Ministry, reaching out to other post-abortive women, along with comments from Jeanne Mancini, president of the National March for Life, and Barbara Listing, president of Right to Life Michigan.
Roseboom expressed particular excitement for the appearance of Mildred “Missy” Parker-Miller, a pro-life advocate who spent 34 years working in the foster care and adoption system in Detroit and has fostered more than 35 children, having three biological children of her own and four adopted foster children.
Parker-Miller and Dr. Michelle Monticello, OB-GYN, co-medical director and OB-GYN advisor for Life Choices of Central Michigan in Mount Pleasant, will highlight resources to help expecting mothers put children up for adoption or foster care or seek out resources from Michigan’s expansive network of pregnancy resource centers.
“Part of what we’re focusing on is highlighting how standing for the unborn is connected to a broader life ethic that exists in society and culture,” Roseboom said. “Michigan has 100 pregnancy resource centers across the state, many offering free or deeply discounted health care, medical services, materials, maternity clothing, supplies for babies, clothing, bottles, everything you need.
“A lot of women may not know how expansive and comprehensive the support services are in the state, and it’s not a one-time deal; they really seek to successfully accompany a woman through this time and even early childhood,” Roseboom added.
Before the rally kicks off, the faithful are encouraged to attend Mass at St. Mary Cathedral in Lansing at 9:30 a.m. with Bishop Boyea, before walking a block south to the state capitol.
“We're telling people to make this a pro-life pilgrimage; to come and pray, go to the march, go to the rally, and be part of the worship music that will be there,” Kanclerz said.
Kanclerz said there is still reason to keep track of abortion-related issues at the federal level, meaning there will still be a need for pro-lifers to make their way to Washington for the March for Life in January, but recent developments mean the abortion issue has taken on a new importance at the state level.
“I think it’s fair to say there is a critical need and urgent attention on the abortion landscape in Michigan,” Kanclerz said. “Catholic schools and parishes have to make a decision on which march to go to or both, but there is a fair argument to be made that an emphasis should be placed on the Michigan March for Life, especially given the abortion situation in Michigan is quite a dire situation for the dignity of human life being protected at the state legislature."
In a legislative environment in which Michigan lawmakers are considering repealing restrictions on abortion, including medical informed consent laws and health and safe standards for abortion facilities, Roseboom said it’s important for pro-lifers to come out in numbers to show the state’s leaders that pro-life laws are still needed.
“Having the march on the one-year anniversary of Proposal 3, we’re taking the opportunity to look forward, not backward,” Roseboom said. “We know the pro-abortion (politicians), and the pro-abortion lobby, are out of step with Michiganders and Americans. That’s a fact.”
Roseboom cited a March 2023 poll that revealed 63% of Michiganians support informed consent for abortion, 90% support clinic safety regulations, and 67% support parental consent for minors to receive an abortion.
“Michiganders did not think Proposal 3 meant we’d be going back, yet the pro-abortion lobby is seeking to use the passage of Proposal 3 to do that,” Roseboom said. “Under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, pro-abortion (politicians) are pushing the Reproductive Health Act, a sweeping, hastily crafted legislation that revokes a woman’s right to know about basic medical facts and common risks associated with an abortion.”