Faithful, including a large contingent from St. John Vianney High School, Holmdel, walk Jan. 22 from St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, to the annual Rally for Life at the State House Annex, Trenton. Joe Moore photo
Faithful, including a large contingent from St. John Vianney High School, Holmdel, walk Jan. 22 from St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, to the annual Rally for Life at the State House Annex, Trenton. Joe Moore photo

By EmmaLee Italia | Correspondent

Sporting royal blue scarves and ties in pro-life solidarity, people from across the state gathered the morning of Jan. 22 at the State House Annex, Trenton, to make their presence felt by state lawmakers at the annual Rally for Life, sponsored by New Jersey Right to Life.

Among those in attendance were the faithful who processed from St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, to the State House after a morning Mass for Life celebrated by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M.

Photo Gallery: Rally for Life in Trenton

“Do you think it’s a coincidence that they decided to schedule it today, while we’re having the rally?” said NJRTL executive director Marie Tasy, referring to a hearing concerning two bills before the state Legislature that would determine taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood. “We will continue to raise our voices to oppose and resist the use of our hard-earned tax dollars to fund [abortion].”

Speaking alongside Tasy were several state legislators and representatives of pro-life and faith organizations, including a representative from the office of Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., who read the congressman’s staunch pro-life message in his absence. Smith, a member of St. Gregory the Great Parish, Hamilton Square, has a long history with the pro-life caucus.

The Rev. Clenard Childress of New Calvary Baptist Church, Montclair, focused on the timeliness of the pro-life perspective and message. “You can resist an invading army,” he said, “but not an idea whose time has come ... Our time has come, and we gotta get busy about our Father’s business.”

Christine Flaherty, executive director of LifeNet, the creative force behind what’s known as the 20/20 Project, spoke of the importance of the project – a reference to the NJ Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, supporting the science that reveals an unborn child of 20 weeks can experience pain in the womb.

Just last week, while parking her car, a man approached Flaherty and pointed to the prolife magnet on her car, asking, “Are you involved in that?” she said. He proceeded to share his personal experience with abortion: his wife had, without telling him, recently aborted their 20-week-old child.

“I would have talked her out of it,” the man said.

Upon further conversation, Flaherty said she learned that this wasn’t the woman’s first abortion. She encouraged the man to contact her to learn more about grieving and healing from those experiences, and said she would pray for him.

“Late-term abortion is not rare in our state,” Flaherty said emphatically. “In Englewood, Montclair, Union, Cherry Hill, University Hospital in Newark, these places are all routinely destroying babies at this age.”

“Our legislators have said, it’s really hard to vote against a law that would protect children that could survive outside the womb if given the proper neonatal care,” she said.

Respect Life director Jennifer Ruggiero, Diocese of Metuchen, contrasted the media coverage of the recent natural disasters plaguing the country over the past several months and the focus on the human tragedy and preciousness of each life with the lack of media outcry over the millions of lives ended by abortion.

“Sadly, there is usually very little television coverage of these rallies or these lives lost – no faces and no names,” Ruggiero said. “Yet in deeply personal ways, abortion has touched the lives of millions ... Everyone is affected by the hardening of the heart, which comes when a culture tolerates killing.”