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The Steely Marches . . .



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. . . I think that’s how poet Hayden Carruth once described the winter landscape of Vermont, way back when, before global warming brought palm trees to the Canadian border.

But “steely marches” also describes the pro-life movement’s protest calendar, which fills January. The U.S. pro-life movement, for example, will once again line up 200,000 or so protesters in Washington, D.C., this coming Friday for the annual March for Life to commemorate Roe v. Wade, the mother of all judicial fiats. The press — and certainly the conservative clerisy — will again ignore it.

The French March for Life was held yesterday in Paris, forming at the place de la République. You won’t read about this in Le Monde or Le Figaro — although La Croix, the sort-of Catholic daily, has a brief story, an AFP dispatch. The march is held to mark the anniversary of the implementation 35 years ago of France’s law permitting abortions.

While this is only the sixth of these Parisian pro-life marches, the turnout for this somewhat surprising demonstration has grown every year, attendence rising as the number of French abortions grows. Alarmed French fear that pretty soon France will be as abortion-crazy as, say, China, or Texas. Even Simone Veil, the controversial author of the French abortion law, is appalled at the growing number of abortions, according to French pro-lifers.

This year, Dolores Meehan, co-founder of Walk for Life West Coast, was on hand to encourage the mostly young marchers, according to this preview in California Catholic Daily (h/t: Le Salon Beige), and the focus now includes condemnation of experiments on embryonic stem cells. It’s interesting how the American pro-life movement is providing global leadership on this effort. 

One would think the Roman Catholic church in France would be interested in bearing this responsibility. But the hierarchy here has been somewhat limp on this kind of thing; French bishops never want to cause distress to the government (which “cooperates” in their selection) because, you know, it might keep people from attending Sunday Mass. (That’s ironic, by the way; Dick Cheney is more popular in France than Sunday Mass.)

There’ll be more of an episcopal turn-out in California Friday for the regional march than there was in Paris for this national one, I suppose. André Vingt-Trois, the Catholic archbishop of Paris, couldn’t quite make it down to the street to show support, but Philippe Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyon, showed up, along with a few other Catholic clerics. That’s progress of a sort.



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