Thousands of pro-life activists marched in two major U.S. cities, Denver and Chicago, on Saturday calling for an end to abortion. The marches are part of a nation-wide effort to build awareness around the more than 700,000 abortion procedures carried out each year that result in the deaths of unborn children, along with calls for state legislatures to enact policies that protect human life.
In the "Mile High City," approximately 8,000 people gathered for the Celebrate Life rally on the steps of the Colorado state capitol. This year, the speakers and attendees calls for the state legislature to pass Initiative 120, which would ban late-term abortions in Colorado, defined as abortions occurring after 22 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for the life of the mother.
The supporters of the initiative must turn in 124,632 valid signatures by March 4 to qualify for the November ballot.
'We respect life, and we respect it for all the pregnancy'
Among the speakers at the rally was Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of the Archdiocese of Denver, who told the crowd about his time working in a hospital as a college student where he saw fetuses after abortions had been performed. Aquila said the experience changed his life.
"It is tragic and I remember being stunned," he said, according to Colorado Public Radio. "Only persons whose consciousnesses are dead, who have no conscience, can participate in such things."
Archbishop Aquila told the attendees about a particular abortion procedure that still impacted him even decades later. "I can still remember the horror on the young woman's face when she saw the broken body come out of her."
Referring to Initiative 120, the Catholic archbishop assured attendees of the rally that it does not amount to an endorsement of abortion during earlier stages of a pregnancy.
"But we also desire to protect, even in increments, the gift of given life. We are not voting for abortion, nor are we saying we agree with abortion up to 22 weeks. What we are saying, is that we respect life, and we respect it for all the pregnancy," Aquila said.
"We hope in November 2020 you and the citizens of Colorado will have the chance to protect unborn children, mothers, and fathers," he added.
'Civil rights begin in the womb'
Denver's Celebrate Life Rally and March Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Colorado became the first state to allow abortion in limited instances in 1967. According to CPR, the state does not have any restrictions on when women can have abortions. According to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, a pro-life research group, in 2018 there were 323 abortions that occurred in Colorado at 21 weeks or later in a pregnancy.
The attendees carried signs that read, "Civil rights begin in the womb" and "I am the pro-life generation." Others held 6-foot-high images of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Aquila also noted that despite the persecution faced by opponents of abortion, the pro-life movement has to persevere.
"No matter what culture of death we live in, no matter what words of hate are spoken to us, no matter what persecution we experience...have the courage to proclaim the dignity of life from the moment of conception until natural death," he said to applause, Colorado Politics reported.
The rally was organized largely by Respect Life Denver.