||A crowd gathers outside State Capitol building in Madison holding signs in support of pro-life legislation at a Rally for Life held January 12. Several state lawmakers and pro-life leaders spoke at the rally. (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)
MADISON -- The outside temperatures were in the single digits but dozens of hearts were on fire to protect the lives of the unborn.
During the noon hour on January 12, pro-life supporters and state lawmakers gathered on the steps of the State Capitol for a Rally for Life.
The event was co-sponsored by Pro-Life Wisconsin, Wisconsin Family Action, and Wisconsin Right to Life.
The home of the state’s lawmaking chambers served as a backdrop to call attention to three pro-life bills with hopes both the State Assembly and State Senate will pass them before the session closes in March. They include:• Assembly Bill 305/Senate Bill 260, which bans the sale and use of the body parts of aborted babies in Wisconsin.
• Assembly Bill 310/Senate Bill 237, which redirects money from the Title X grant program away from Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin.
• Assembly Bill 311/Senate Bill 238, which prohibits family planning organizations, including Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, from overbilling the state for drugs it purchases and dispenses through a Medicaid program.
The rally begins
More than 40 Wisconsin pro-life supporters, arriving in Madison from Shell Lake to Racine and everywhere in between, gathered on the Capitol steps with signs and hand-warmers in hand.
Dan Miller, state director of Pro-Life Wisconsin, thanked everyone for coming.
“We are here today to speak out on behalf of the unborn,” Miller said.
He called the proposed legislation “by far the most powerful pro-life bills we’ve seen in this state for some time.”
He thanked bill sponsors Representative André Jacque (R-De Pere), Representative Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc), Representative Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville), Representative Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield), and all the co-sponsors for their “courage”.
“But it’s not over,” said Miller. “We are at a precipice, at a turning point in history . . . more people in these United States are pro-life than ever before.”
Miller also emphasized, “The great thing about being pro-life is that we know science is on our side . . . we know that life begins at conception.”
Evoking the controversy over using fetal body parts for medical research, Miller said “we are not opposed to ethical research . . . In fact, Christians throughout history have shown us the beauty of science,” citing examples of the work of Pythagoras, Copernicus, Descartes, and Da Vinci.
Chelsea Shields, legislative director for Wisconsin Right to Life, also thanked everyone for coming and introduced Representative Stroebel.
Stroebel said, “It’s great to be here and on such a cold day . . . I know how you all feel in your hearts on this issue so it wasn’t that hard to come out.”
“We do stand for research,” he added, “but we do have an ethical boundary in protecting life.”
Speaking about the bill to ban the sale and use of aborted baby body parts, he said, “With all of our energies, with all of your friends and neighbors pushing on this issue, believing in this issue, I do believe we can make something happen here,” and added now it’s “on the shoulders of our leaders” to bring it to the floor for a vote.
Matt Sande, legislative director/deputy state director for Pro-Life Wisconsin, next introduced his “pro-life hero,” Representative Jacque.
Sande said after the Center for Medical Progress videos were released last summer showing evidence of Planned Parenthood selling aborted baby body parts for medical research, Jacque went immediately to work to launch legislation.
“He’s been working so hard ever since to get them through the State Assembly,” Sande said.
Jacque said, “As a state, as a society, we must stand for the sanctity of human life, particularly for the most vulnerable among us . . . we must stop Planned Parenthood.”
Jacque said Planned Parenthood is “literally killing our next generation and is providing no accountability for use of those dollars,” given to them by the state of Wisconsin.
Representative Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls) echoed the statements of Jacque and said, “Bless you for coming. Bless you for having the ability to have a voice. We all know that the unborn do not have a voice, they don’t have dollars, they don’t have votes, so you being here is representative of them.”
Representative Kleefisch motivated action by the concerned citizens at the Capitol, saying, “People like you are the reason we’re able to do what we do in this building . . . if we don’t say life is important from its very beginning, nothing else we do matters because every one of the bills and every one of the laws that’s signed in this building affects what? The lives of the people of the state of Wisconsin.”
As the rally came to a close, Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action, encouraged everyone to go inside the Capitol and speak with their representatives to pass the important legislation.
She emphasized the “multiplied power of one”: either one voice talking to a lawmaker, or going back home and talking to friends and relatives of the importance of protecting the lives of the unborn.
“Don’t let the momentum end,” she said, urging everyone to go to the lawmakers with a “respectful message.”
For more information on the pro-life legislation, go to docs.legis.wis consin.gov and search for the bills mentioned earlier in this article.
For information on how to contact your state lawmakers, go to maps.legis.wisconsin.gov