About 90 anti-abortion demonstrators held a vigil outside the federal courthouse in Kansas City on Friday as a national March for Life event unfolded in Washington, D.C.
The Kansas City action, organized by the local Missouri Right to Life group, started with a prayer gathering at the Catholic Center downtown and continued a lineup of speakers from local anti-abortion organizations at Ilus Davis Park outside the courthouse. At the same time, four busloads of people from the Kansas City region had already arrived at the March for Life in Washington.
Missouri Right to Life participates in the event each year, marking the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. Last year, about 150 members of the group found themselves snowbound on buses for 22 hours on the Pennsylvania Turnpike while returning from Washington.
On Friday, local organizers noted that they were favored with better weather and felt buoyed by the support of the new Trump administration in Washington, where Vice President Mike Pence told a crowd at the March for Life rally that ending taxpayer-funded abortion and choosing a new Supreme Court justice would be top priorities.
In Kansas City, the message remained the same.
“We are gathering in defense of life,” said Teresa Hoeppner, a program coordinator with the Respect Life Office of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. “It’s a creation of God. It’s sacred. And it needs to be protected from conception to natural death.”
Outside the courthouse, demonstrators brought signs reading “Abortion hurts women” and “Abortion kills children.” Among the speakers addressing the gathering were Annie Fowler of KC Coalition for Life & 40 Days for Life; the Rev. Vernon West of Creighton First Baptist Church, and Mary Gliserman of the Wyandotte Pregnancy Center, a nonprofit that offers services to pregnant women.
“We don’t want to just say, ‘Don’t have abortions,’ ” Gliserman said. “We want to say there are other ways of going about it.”
Gliserman suggested help with parenting, adoption and education among the preferred options.
Some demonstrators came from as far as Kearney to participate in the event, including a group from the Church of Annunciation wearing bright red T-shirts with “Life Guard” printed on the front.
One church member, Debbie Faltys, said she had been to the Washington march twice. Asked why she came out for the Kansas City event, she said the answer was simple.
“Pro-life,” she said. “My goal? It’s to see Roe v. Wade overturned.”