DePaul pro-lifers speak out at March for Life rally

March for Life rally attracts protesters of all ages and values

Carolyn McCabe | The DePaulia

The pro-life minority felt like the majority on Sunday.

On a cold afternoon, thousands gathered at The Federal Plaza to give a voice to those, that they say, can’t speak for themselves. Though many see the annual March For Life rally as an anti-abortion rally, those in attendance consider it a celebration of life.

The age of attendance spanned from the smallest newborn, to the oldest volunteers in their 80s. Daft Punk’s “One More Time” and other arena rock jams played over loudspeakers as families gathered and children danced while holding signs that read, “one-third of my generation is missing” or “abortion is not healthcare.”

A child piggybacked on her dad’s shoulders while holding a “defund planned parenthood” sign.

The theme of the rally was love saves lives. 

Public opinion on abortion has remained fairly consistent, apart from a drop in favorability in 2009.
Victoria Williamson | The DePaulia

Not everyone considered the event to be a celebration. Across a wall of police officers on Dearborn St., hundreds of counter protesters gathered to voice their dissent. Signs read “Abortion on demand and without an apology” or “My body. My choice.” Other signs weren’t so family friendly.

Ramona Treviño, a former employee at Planned Parenthood, was one of the keynote speakers.

“Planned Parenthood’s days are numbered,” she said to an emotionally charged crowd.

Treviño told her story of her days at Planned Parenthood and how she has completely changed her tune. She criticized her former agency and said that she has made it her mission to change people’s minds who were once like her.

“Women do not need abortion,” she said before exiting the stage.

Across the street, the counter protesters grew louder chanting, “Our bodies! Our choice!”

Kaila Peterson was one of the final speakers at the rally. Peterson is one of DePaul’s newest students. She has only been attending DePaul for a couple of weeks.

“It has been an interesting but exciting experience so far,” she said.

Peterson told her story of finding out she was pregnant with her second child. They bounced around without a place to live.

“I was scared, but I didn’t want to give up my baby,” she said.

Peterson credited the agency Aid For Women both for helping her through her pregnancy and getting her a scholarship to attend DePaul.

DePaul is the largest Catholic school in the United States, but tell that to the student body. Most students tend to have liberal viewpoints on most issues.  When it comes to abortion laws, it is safe to say that many consider themselves to be pro-choice.

It’s not just the students either. The faculty are known for being left-leaning. In 2015, DePaul came under fire for promoting volunteer opportunities with Planned Parenthood.

Justine Carlson is a senior at DePaul and former president of DePaul Students For Life.  She said that being pro-life at DePaul isn’t always easy.

“It’s definitely difficult,” she said.

Carlson said that sometimes it can feel isolating if your beliefs don’t align strongly enough with one side. She said that she has been called out by both liberals and conservatives on campus.

“I’ve been told, you aren’t pro-life enough,” she said.

Current president of Students For Life, Nick Sansone agreed with Carlson.

“DePaul is not a very friendly place to be pro-life,” he said.

He thinks that DePaul students could stand to be a little more open-minded. He said that when it comes to views on abortion, there are probably many pro-life students that don’t feel comfortable voicing their beliefs.

“It’s almost a group-think mentality,” he said. 

Sansone said that while people often assume he must be conservative on every issue, that is not the case. He said that he is very supportive of LGBTQ+ rights, immigrants rights, and many other civil rights issues.

Sansone is not wrong either. While it might often feel like DePaul is overwhelmingly pro-choice, statistics show that society really hasn’t moved the needle on abortion in over a decade. For the most part, those that favor a pro-choice stance have hovered at around 55 percent, while those opposed to abortion around 40 percent.

Sansone voiced his displeasure with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office.

“He betrayed everybody,” he said.

When asked if he would be voting for a different candidate in the upcoming election, he said, “absolutely.”

At the Sunday rally, other politicians weren’t afraid to take shots at the governor’s office either.

Jeanne Ives, state representative of the 42nd district, addressed the crowd.

“Your political leaders have betrayed you,” she said amidst an echo of applause. Ives referenced Rauner’s signing of HB 40 as one of his biggest failures.

Next week is the annual Women’s March, and a crowd of a quarter million is expected. It will be another day of chanting and colorful signs, and America’s war over abortion laws will continue to march on.