WASHINGTON — Bundled up on a frigid day in blowing snow, Garrett Finnell, of Edmond, marched with tens of thousands of people here Friday from the National Mall to the U.S. Supreme Court to protest the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
“The right to life is a huge issue in our nation, and it's important to me as a young person that I stand up and do something, whatever I can, to push that issue and show everyone in this nation that it's important to young people,” Finnell said.
“As a Catholic from Oklahoma, specifically, I want to be here. I want to represent my state. It was a long trip — it was a 24-hour bus ride — but it's totally worth it to be here and to experience all this.”
For Finnell, who said he attends the University of Central Oklahoma, it was a first March for Life. The annual event is held around the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. Other Oklahomans on the march were veterans.
“I've come many times,” said the Most Rev. Paul Coakley, Oklahoma City archbishop.
“I'm always impressed by the youthfulness of the crowd. It seems like it gets younger each year, and it gets larger. The March for Life is not a sprint, it's a marathon because step by step I think we have to change hearts in order to transform the culture.
“Ultimately I think the end game would be that somehow Roe v. Wade would be overturned and our nation would begin to recognize that we don't need it, that our nation will recognize that life is sacred and life is to be defended from the moment of conception to its natural end.
“It's going to be a long haul. The youthful enthusiasm gives me hope for the future, but I'm not expecting any quick fixes given the political winds as they're blowing here in Washington today,” Coakley said.
Anti-abortion protesters from across the nation attended the march and the preceding rally, where march organizers and current and former politicians spoke to the crowd.
In a video message, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called abortion “a defining human rights issue of our time. Because human life is not an economic or political commodity, and no government on Earth has the right to treat it as such.”
U.S. Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, and Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, introduced legislation with other senators Friday to ensure elective abortion is not subsidized with taxpayer money under the newly created multistate health plans.
“This legislation protects the consciences of Americans who are morally opposed to paying for elective abortions,” Coburn said.
President Barack Obama released a statement on Tuesday, the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade, commending its “historic commitment to protect the health and reproductive freedom of women across this country and stand by its guiding principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters, and women should be able to make their own choices about their bodies and their health care.