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A sign outside Infant Jesus Church in Port Jefferson welcoming pro-life activists this week. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Catholic parishioners across Long Island who support the pro-life movement rallied this week to support of the March for Life held in Washington, D.C.

According to Infant Jesus R.C. Church parishioner Kevin Crowley, in the past Catholic parishes in both counties have usually sent busloads of protesters to the nation’s capital every year, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic they had to bring the rally closer to home.

On Friday, Jan. 21 — the day of the D.C. event — Crowley said that nearly 90 people gathered inside the Port Jefferson church to participate in a three-part event: an early Mass, the rally which featured three different speakers and, then to finish, the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Crowley said that because the pandemic has made it impossible to send buses to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., this Friday, Jan. 21, the Diocese of Rockville Centre is sponsoring parish activities. These activities are intended to show support for the March for Life which will take place simultaneously in Washington — its 49th year.

Along with St. Louis de Montfort R.C. Church in Sound Beach and the Joan of Arc Council of the Knights of Columbus in Port Jeff, those who would typically be with the thousands down in Washington stayed local. The plan originally was for gatherers to rally on the front lawn of the church, just below the Sacred Heart statue, but Friday’s freezing conditions moved the group indoors.

The March for Life is an annual march to the Supreme Court of the United States that began in 1974 — a year after the landmark abortion decision in Roe v. Wade. This year’s theme in Washington was called “equality begins in the womb.”

This comes as the Supreme Court looks to reconsider the Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) decisions that had written the right to abortion in the federal constitution.

According to Crowley, who is a retired Suffolk County First District Court judge, the State of New York has already codified a nine-month abortion right into state law and will be considering adding an assisted suicide law during the coming legislative session.

Pro-life activists are hopeful that Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which was argued before the Supreme Court in December, will overturn or weaken Roe v. Wade. The decision on the consequential abortion case is expected by this summer.

Crowley added in the past more than five dozen people would take a bus to participate in the big rally, often having to deny people for lack of seats. The last time the group was able to attend was January 2020 — right before the coronavirus hit us locally.

The 2021 rally was canceled as it was in the heart of the pandemic, and 2022 looked hopeful. But Crowley said that because of the omicron variant, it was better to play it safe, but to also express their support that all human life — especially that of an unborn, the aged, the poor, the differently abled and the terminally ill — starts from conception to natural death, and that services should be available to women in situations that were unplanned or not ideal.

“We’re looking to the future,” Crowley said. “The positive things to help women in crisis pregnancies — not just during, but after.”