Chanting, praying and displaying signs that read “Choose Love Choose Life” and “Defund Planned Parenthood, ” several hundred people gathered on the Common on Sunday for Massachusetts Citizens for Life’s annual “Respect Life Walk.”
Attendees celebrated Thursday’s unanimous Supreme Court decision striking down a state law barring protesters from demonstrating within 35 feet of abortion clinics, marching around Boston Common as temperatures climbed above 85 degrees.
One of the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case addressed the crowd before the march.
“We gather today to honor and to celebrate and promote life,” said the Rev. Eric Cadin of St. Michael Parish in Andover. “We carry with us a special joy. This past Thursday, we experienced a victory. We experienced a victory as Americans: Our rights are protected. We experienced a victory as Christians: Our prayers were answered.”
Marchers called the ruling a small victory, and said Sunday their attention would now shift to larger causes, such as reducing government funding to clinics providing abortion.
In an interview after the event, the organizing group’s outreach director, Matt Hanafin, criticized Attorney General Martha Coakley’s vow to meet with the governor and the Legislature to create new legal protections for clinic-goers.
Coakley said Thursday that she was “deeply disappointed” in the court’s decision, saying that the law protected patients, health care workers, and the public from intimidation and harassment.
“It’s very unfortunate that a candidate for governor considers that to be a high priority, taking away first amendment rights from prolife individuals,” Hanafin said.
Demonstrators called the Supreme Court decision a free speech, rather than a safety, issue. They said allowing demonstrators closer to abortion clinic doors will provide for a dialogue between patients and protesters.
“You never want to see violence and that’s for sure,” said Erin Loparo, who attended the march.
Loparo said marches like Sunday’s provide a similar dialogue to the one that might occur outside clinics.
“Women who are desperate, or fearful or uncertain, they are able to come into contact with people who can offer them alternatives,” Loparo said.
Bridget Fay, 33, said events like Sunday’s let people see and meet with antiabortion activists in person.
“There’s some visibility for people hanging out at the Boston Common,” she said. “I think it provides a different perspective to the prolife movement.”
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