After weeks of witness on the road, in church youth groups, and in front of abortion clinics, forty young people will end their three simultaneous cross-country pro-life walks across America in Washington, D.C on Saturday. The walk organizer said the endeavor helped women to reject abortion and revealed significant pro-life support. Three groups of young people with the group Crossroads began their respective walks in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles on May 23. They collectively logged 10,000 miles across 36 U.S. states in 12 weeks.
Each walker averaged over 1,000 miles and spoke to parishes and youth groups. They also engaged in “peaceful, prayerful” protests and sidewalk counseling at abortion clinics.
The effort has taken place annually since 1995. This year’s walk will end with a 1 p.m. rally at the U.S. Capitol.
Speaking in a press release, Crossroads president James Nolan said the trip showed that America is a pro-life country.
“[U]nlike polls that take a small, phone-based sample, we have had the advantage of directly interacting with thousands of Americans. And the support for the rights of the innocent, unborn has always been in the majority,” he remarked, charging that the Obama administration is “out of touch” with the mainstream.
Speaking with CNA in a Friday interview, Nolan said walkers spoke at thousands of religious services and met with people one-on-one. He claimed the effort revealed a “massive conversion” of youth towards religion and spirituality and pro-life views. It also showed a “massive rejection of the “culture of death,” especially among the youth, he said.
Many who interacted with the walkers were “very, very supportive” of the effort. Nolan told CNA that people are “hungry for truth” and for “something new,” and are not “buying the old lies involved with the culture of death in general.”
He explained that participants walked 24 hours a day around the clock during weekdays, while on weekends they would pray at abortion clinics, youth groups, and various religious services.
The Crossroads walk has witnessed “amazing stories of conversion” and of women “choosing life,” according to Nolan.
“There was one parish out in the Midwest where after the walkers spoke at one of the evening Masses a gentlemen came up and asked if they had been praying at the clinic earlier that Saturday.”
The walkers responded that they had.
“This gentleman said that he had actually been driving his daughter to the clinic for the abortion and when they saw young people in T-shirts and praying the rosary, they decided they just couldn’t do it,” Nolan recounted.
After turning away from the clinic, the pregnant woman and her father then went to get an ultrasound. They discovered she was carrying twins.
“The father was just in shock. Before, he was just that close to choosing abortion. Now, he’s a grandfather of two.”
He described the incident as a moment of “real conversion” through the youth.
“When people see young people really taking a stand, hearts and minds get changed. It’s pretty amazing.”
CNA also asked about an incident at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado where a park ranger initially stopped three female walkers from entering the park. According to Nolan, the ranger said the shirts “might offend other people with opposing views” and needed to be changed.
While the situation was resolved after half an hour, Nolan commented, “just the fact that young people wearing pro-life T-shirts were stopped from entering, just in itself, is an outrage.”
“There is no doubt in our minds that this was a case of thinly veiled harassment based on nothing more than political ideology,” Nolan said of the incident.
Though Nolan told CNA that the park ranger did not mention President Barack Obama specifically, he said the incident is indeed evidence of mounting pressure on pro-life groups under the Obama administration.
Nolan reported that Crossroads walkers had faced “harassment” under the Clinton administration but had a “break” under President George W. Bush.
“With the Obama administration, we’re just seeing a ramping up of pressure on pro-life groups. It’s clear that there has been a change in administration.
“That harassment has started up again,” he charged, citing the Rocky Mountain National Park incident as his group’s first “real clear example.”
However, Nolan was optimistic about the future.
“The pro-abortion position is definitely in the minority now,” he said. “The youth of the country especially are returning back to the religious and the life-respecting roots of earlier generations.”
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