On Sunday, January 24, the Tennessee Right to Life held a Rally for Life Conference at the Sheraton Hotel in Downtown Nashville. Coming on the heels of the Washington DC’s annual March, several hundred attendees dressed in their Sunday best lamented the 50 million acts of abortion since the passing of Roe v. Wade and discussed strategies to curtail what they consider to be a murderous practice.
Attendees to the conference entered to the spiritual tunes of BB Angelo and the B Attitudes, who were followed by the band Undue Favor. President of Tennessee Right to Life Brian Harris and the Knights of Columbus Color Guard opened the conference with the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance. Among the more moving speakers was Judy Charest, who related a chilling story about her experience of being forced into an abortion against her will. Charest concluded with a call to put up signs in hospitals that remind doctors of the strict illegality of this practice.
Elected officials made their appearances as well. State Representative Susan Lynn proclaimed her opposition to state run healthcare in general and especially the idea of state-paid abortions. Senator Jack Johnson, a Republican from District 23, then spoke about the coming Tennessee Senate and House races in 2010. He emphasized the importance of the Republican Party in fighting for the pro-life cause.
The main speaker of the event was Reverend Walter Hoye, the Executive Elder of the Progressive Missionary Baptist Church of Berkeley and the founder and president of both the California Civil Rights Foundation and the Issues 4 Life group. Hoye recounted his story of being arrested for peacefully holding a sign that read “Jesus loves you and your baby. Please let us help” outside of an Oakland abortion facility. Hoye was arrested and later convicted and sentenced to 30 days in jail for violating local protesting laws, but he is currently appealing the decision. In the meantime, Hoye has pledged to return to the clinic where he met his trouble.
In closing, the audience and speakers collectively prayed for the babies and families who have suffered from abortion, emphasizing that abortion has lasting effects on everyone involved, child or adult, man or woman. When departing, guests could purchase bumper stickers and posters celebrating their views, and they could also meet the various politicians and group leaders who attended as well.
Several members of the Vanderbilt Right to Life chapter attended, including longtime chapter board member Maria Gagliano, current president Margaret Hernon, and several recent graduates who have remained strong supporters of the pro-life movement.
Gagliano, who also attended the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., said the Nashville Rally “focused more on the pro-life issues on the state level as opposed to the national level. However, both events were filled with the same fervor and commitment to fighting for the right to life of all people, born or unborn.”
Hernon was also pleased by the event. “Nashville has a growing movement and that’s exciting,” she said. “Now it’s up to us to do all we can to contribute.”
—Trevor Williams is a junior in the College of Arts & Science. He can be reached at email@example.com