Senior Rosemary Holt clutched rosary beads and bowed her head Tuesday afternoon.
Outside an F Street abortion clinic, the Washington Surgi-Clinic next to The Dakota residence hall, Holt stood with a weekly prayer group. For four years, the weekly demonstration – a gathering that Newman Catholic Student Center chaplain Father Greg Shaffer has dubbed “Rosary for Life” has run. Sixteen students turned out Tuesday.
Holt, co-president of Colonials for Life and a member of Army ROTC, said her connection to her anti-abortion stance is deeply personal.
“I exist because my mother chose life. Life for me. She made this choice knowing she faced opposition from family and friends and that it would not be an easy route,” Holt said of her mother’s unplanned teenage pregnancy.
Holt said she uses her personal story to give a face to unintended pregnancies, which she said are often construed as burdens. Her
mother’s sacrifices – turning down a chance to go to Harvard or Rice universities – put aside “the selfish desire to be young and carefree.”
“She taught me a valuable life lesson: that women deserve better than abortion, because no woman should be forced to choose between sacrificing her future and sacrificing her child,” Holt said.
The prayer session, as the group calls its meeting, is “not just a protest,” junior Chris Crawford, director of the Newman Center’s pro-life ministry added.
“We’re praying for change of hearts, for women considering abortion, for the doctors, for the workers in the clinic, and we’re praying that they’ll have that change of heart and take up a different line of work or make a different decision,” Crawford said. “It’s very important to us not to bother anybody or be aggressive.”
He added that the group is also meant to show support for women considering abortion.
The medical office offers both chemical and surgical abortions through the second trimester of pregnancy – up to 26 weeks after conception. Clinic employees declined to comment.
Sophomore Lisa Campbell, vice president of GW Catholics, also said her involvement was inspired by personal experience with unplanned pregnancy. Campbell’s sister found herself pregnant at 19 and chose to have her baby despite pressure to get an abortion.
“My niece is the biggest blessing that my family has ever had bestowed upon us,” Campbell said. “I just encourage everyone to give that blessing a chance.”