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Rally for Life gathers pro-lifers in Des Moines

By KATIE LEFEBVRE, Globe staff reporter
(Email Katie)

DES MOINES -The Rally for Life generated support from pro-lifers across the state on Feb. 17 in Des Moines.

Among the attendees was Kolby DeWitt, a parishioner at Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City, who attended with Sam Clovis, Iowa candidate for U.S. Senate. DeWitt is the political director for Clovis’ campaign.

Nearly 100 gathered at St. Anthony Parish in Des Moines for the pro-life education seminar. The day started with an opening prayer by Father Chris Reising, pastor at Our Lady of the Americas Parish in Des Moines, followed by the keynote address, given by Wesley Smith, speaker and author of many books, including “Forced Exit: Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide and the New Duty to Die.”

Smith said he all too often hears stories about the aging or elderly in failing health. But what surprises him is that the dying are most concerned about being a burden or inconvenience to their families, so they would prefer to have assisted suicide or euthanasia.

“How did we make it so that our fathers and mothers, our aunts and our uncles think they can possibly be a burden on us?” he said. “We need to look very hard in the mirror and look to find out what it is that we are doing to make people feel unwelcome if they are ill, if they are disabled, if they are elderly or if they are dying.”

Some European countries, especially Belgium, are embracing and promoting assisted suicide and euthanasia, he said, warning that if Americans do not take a stand, the same things could happen here in the United States and in Iowa.

Following Smith’s talk, a pro-life panel was featured consisting of Smith, Tom Moreland, executive director of Saint Jude Hospice; and Mercy Medical Center staff persons Laura Wenman, director of vice-president of mission integration, and Deacon Dave O’Brien, director of pastoral care.

Moreland said the elderly and dying are those “most in need of love and assistance.”

“Show them love, compassion and mercy,” he said. “We take care of Jesus and the dying every day.”

Attendees were provided lunch and given training on how to lobby legislators at the Iowa State Capitol building later that afternoon. They had the opportunity to share their views on life and pray with legislators.

“I have been an avid and active supporter of the pro-life movement for years,” said DeWitt. “It is easy to feel outnumbered working with a particular cause. Rallies like this make you realize you are fighting for something bigger than any individual, and part of a movement far greater than you realize.”

If citizens fail to revere the most fundamental right to life, said DeWitt, “and neglect to protect the unborn and the elderly, we betray and deny God's most intrinsic plan for the human race. If we do not get life right, all other matters are in vain.”

“Abortion and euthanasia are very real threats as the ‘culture of death’ grows in America,” he said. “We must do everything in our power to extinguish the atrocity before it’s too late, as is the case for Belgium. We must embrace, not reject, our human exceptionalism.”

After lunch and training on lobbying legislators, the group went to the Iowa State Capitol building, where a rally at the Capitol was held. Bishop Richard Pates, Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds addressed the crowd.

“I have always been a supporter of pro-life policies and I always will be,” Gov. Branstad said.

Lt. Gov. Reynolds said, “I truly believe the pro-life movement is a pro-women movement.”

Keynote speaker Wesley Smith closed the Pro-Life Rally with a second talk at the state Capitol. Many pro-life organizations partnered to put on the Rally for Life including Iowa Right-to-Life, Iowans for L.I.F.E, Mercy Medical Center, Iowa Catholic Conference, Teen Pact, Council of Catholic Women, Catholic Charities, Knights of Columbus, Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, Saint Jude Hospice and The Family Leader.

Kelly Mescher Collins of The Catholic Mirror in Des Moines contributed to this story.


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