Pro-life demonstrators march through Jefferson City to show support for anti-abortion policy makers

Event organizers estimated that there were at least 800 demonstrators.
Pro-life supporters march toward the Capitol in Jefferson City as part of the annual March for Life on Feb. 4. The marchers filled the Capitol's rotunda during the rally.

Pro-life demonstrators filled the Capitol building and sidewalks around downtown Jefferson City on Saturday for the annual Midwest March for Life.

Before the start of the march, senior Kristen Wood, president of Mizzou Students for Life, motivated the crowd to join with her and other members in chants such as “We are the pro-life generation.” The crowd also yelled more lighthearted chants like “Hey hey, ho ho, Roe v. Wade has got to go.”

The march started at St. Peter Catholic Church around 10 a.m. Organizers encouraged the crowd to be respectful during the 3/4 mile march.

“Keep it peaceful,” an organizer told the crowd as demonstrators lined up. “Keep it honorable.”

Knights of Columbus members and clergy led the march, followed by a bagpipe procession and the rest of the crowd. The march, despite its size, remained mostly quiet with only occasional groups of loud chanting. Many demonstrators used the march as an opportunity to get to know other members and organizations of the pro-life movement.

Most signs at the event were provided by the organizers at the beginning of the march. One demonstrator who had brought his family carried a sign that read: “Yo soy la generación pro-vida.”

“We’re not all white or speak English as our first language,” the demonstrator said.

According to the organizers, there were at least 800 demonstrators.

Once the march reached the Capitol building, they lined up to go inside for the rally. Wood, who had been at the March For Life in Washington, D.C. the week prior, said this march was “a very different, less emotional event.”

“I wouldn’t say that this has a grand impact, but it shows our support,” Wood said. “It shows our state and country what matters to us.”

Once all the demonstrators gathered in the Capitol’s rotunda, the rally opened with a prayer. The event consisted of fairly well-known speakers in the Midwest’s pro-life movement. The first speaker was Reagan Barklage, founder of Mizzou Students for Life.

"We are the pro-life generation, and we are going to abolish abortion in our lifetime,” Barklage said.

Later, speaker Karen Nolkemper, who is the executive director of Respect Life Apostolate of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, urged the crowd to lobby against the Board Bill 203. The bill would designate reproductive health decisions and pregnancy status as protected classes in St. Louis.

Nolkemper said this bill would make pro-life employers, landlords and health care providers susceptible to fines.

Bridget Van Means, president of St. Louis women’s healthcare organization ThriVe Express Women's Healthcare, presented awards to pro-life state legislators who had worked on legislation against Planned Parenthood. Van Means said she was happy that Missouri had elected leaders who “loved babies” but still promoted women’s health care with pregnancy help centers and family oriented rehabs.

Van Means said voters were unhappy with pro-choice policies so more people, including “Catholics, Protestants and Ku Klux Klan” members, came out to vote for pro-life politicians.

“We have a pro-life president,” Van Means said to standing ovation. “We have a pro-life governor.”

The rally closed with two speakers who focused on Planned Parenthood. Vansen Wong, a former Planned Parenthood physician, focused on the lack of training he said many Planned Parenthood physicians and nurses had.

“From a doctor’s perspective, the conventions Planned Parenthood works under is disgusting,” Wong said.

After Wong, Ryan Bomberger called Planned Parenthood “Planned Propaganda.” Bomberger is the founder of the pro-life, nonprofit organization Radiance Foundation. Bomberger said the clinics are predatory to African-American communities.

“Black lives matter in and out of the womb,” Bomberger said. “Planned Parenthood is the leading killer of unarmed black lives."

Bomberger finished his speech with a standing ovation from the crowd.

The rally closed with a prayer, and then the demonstrators were invited to a lunch and fundraiser event at a nearby church.

Edited by Kyle LaHucik |

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