Arizona for Life anti-abortion march and rally draw crowds to Capitol

Athena Benjamin said she was at the Arizona for Life March and Rally at the Arizona Capitol on Saturday because she realized the power of her story.

The 39-year-old was told as a teenager that she couldn’t have children. She gave birth to a daughter when she was 24 and became pregnant again a few years later.

Benjamin said she was taking Accutane at the time and was told about the pregnancy complications that could result. At 27, she aborts her son.

Athena Benjamin pictured at the Arizona for Life March and Rally at the Arizona Capitol on Saturday, January 15, 2022.

It’s a decision that Benjamin regrets.

“I wish there were people out there to show me there were other options, to talk about life when I needed to, to encourage me not to and to have faith that God will fix everything,” she said.

Benjamin said she returned to the facility where she had the abortion several months ago for a dermatology appointment and used her experience to dissuade a couple there for a consultation. abortion to make the same choice as her.

Benjamin said she “felt driven” to be part of the anti-abortion movement and supports organizations such as Life More Abundantly and Dream City Church’s anti-abortion ministry.

Although she said it can be difficult to discuss her abortion, “especially among other believers”, she hopes in this way to help others in the same situation she found herself in more ten years old.

“I pray that I can help someone make a better choice where they don’t live with guilt and shame like me,” she said.

A Catholic leader compares abortion to the Holocaust

Debbie West Coon adds a rose to a chain-link fence outside the Arizona State Capitol during the Arizona for Life March and Rally in Phoenix on January 15, 2022.

A worship band from a local church performed several songs as those marching from Washington Street arrived and joined those gathered at the Arizona Capitol.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety estimated that there were about 650 people in the crowd at 12:30 p.m., although its size fluctuated throughout the afternoon, appearing at one point well into- over 1000.

The Most Reverend Thomas Olmsted, Bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix, said from the scene that “the matchless worth of every human person rests in the infinite love of God.”

Olmsted lamented that the gift of life offered by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ “faces grave threats in our society”, but added that the march and rally “speak loud and clear that we will not turn a blind eye. “.

“Some call abortion health care, when in fact it’s closer to Auschwitz,” said Olmsted, the top Catholic Church official in Phoenix.

In a prayer to conclude his remarks, Olmsted asked God for “the courage to fight for every person’s right to life, from conception to natural death.”

Following Olmsted’s remarks came a pre-recorded video message from former President Donald Trump, who was scheduled to speak at a rally in Florence on Saturday evening.

“Right to life – no one has made more progress than us in this four-year period and I’m so honored to have helped so much,” Trump said during the one-minute address that took place. was cheered and applauded by the crowd.

A crowd walks down Washington Street toward the Arizona State Capitol during the Arizona for Life March and Rally in Phoenix on January 15, 2022.

Podcast host Doug Franz, who until last year co-hosted the long-running “Doug and Wolf Show” on Arizona Sports 98.7, addressed attendees several times throughout the event. event. Franz said that when his wife was pregnant with their first daughter, many doctors told them it would not be a viable pregnancy. He described how she was so small at birth, weighing 1 pound and 4 ounces, that her wedding ring could slip down her entire arm.

“I feel called to say this, as I sat in the back watching everyone, I was amazed at how successful we are in spreading the pro-life message among all of us who we’re white,” Franz said at one point.

He called on the crowd to “recognize the incredible courage and strength of all of you who are black here, because we need to do more in your community to bring you here.”

“Your power, your strength and your courage to be here, to champion this cause when it is not popular in your community, I just want to salute you and say thank you to all of you who are here,” said Franz .

Evangelist Alveda King addresses the crowd at the Arizona for Life March and Rally at the Arizona Capitol on Saturday, January 15, 2022.

Evangelist Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., began her keynote address near the end of the event by leading attendees in a song ending with the chorus of the popular hymn “How Great Thou Art”.

King said she was looking forward to participating in “the march for life from the womb to the grave” and said her mother had considered aborting her before Martin Luther King Sr. helped her change of opinion.

She added that she herself had had two abortions, decisions she confessed to and repented of when she became a born-again Christian in the early 1980s.

King, acknowledging that Saturday marked his late uncle’s birthday, applied many of his famous quotes to the anti-abortion movement.

“The Negro cannot win if he is willing to sacrifice his children’s future for immediate personal comfort and security,” she recited. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

As King spoke at the state capitol, several members of his family, including Martin Luther King III, Arndrea Waters King and Yolanda Renee King, took part in a march from Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church to Eastlake Park at the support for federal suffrage legislation and an end to the filibuster of the US Senate.

King said there must be solutions that protect both mothers and their unborn children, adding that “we must defeat evil with good” and ending his speech by leading the crowd singing “This Little Light of Mine”.

Mother and daughter involved in the anti-abortion movement

Daniella and Denise Viner pictured at the Arizona for Life March and Rally at the Arizona Capitol on Saturday, January 15, 2022.

Daniella Viner, 17, attended the rally with her mother, Denise Viner, 54, who said she had done “a lot of investigation and research” into abortion and lamented its disproportionately high rates among communities of color .

“If you want to talk about racism, if you want to talk about prejudice against black people, you have to start with abortion,” said Denise Viner.

Daniella Viner, a high school student, said she had recently done a project on abortion in light of what she described as its normalization among her peers.

Although she’s said she’s been “a little scared to speak up about her beliefs” in the past, her attendance at Saturday’s rally and her openness to the subject on social media is “my stand against that fear.”

“God, he creates every baby with a purpose,” she said. “No baby is meant to exist. He has a purpose for everyone.”

Denise Viner said she knows several people who have had abortions and later regretted them. She added that she is the godmother of the “most beautiful” child whose mother had considered abortion.

She told The Republic she’s “absolutely proud” that her daughter is internalizing those experiences and taking a stand for what she believes in.

“If we can save at least one baby at a time, I think we’ve done our job,” she said.

Following:Does Arizona law act as an abortion ban? The judge weighs the request to block its implementation

Contact the reporter at [email protected] or 602-444-8529. Follow her on Twitter @brieannafrank.

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