By Brianna Piché | LSU Student
Louisiana recently claimed the No. 1 spot as the most pro-life state in the nation, according to Americans United for Life. And the head of the state's pro-life movement says there is more to come.
No where was that intensity better underscored than the thousands of anti-abortion protestors assembled on the steps of the capitol last month to protest the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade at the Louisiana Life March.
Protestors like Mary Lee Bourgeois of Lockport, La., said one's stand on abortion is a deal-maker or breaker when it comes to presidential candidates. Bourgeois, who marched in Washington DC to end abortion in 1992, wants her vote for president to go to a candidate who opposes abortion.
A member of Holy Savior Catholic Church, Bourgeois said she prays political candidates will "do the right thing" to end abortion.
Lockport resident Sue Braniff said she's proud Louisiana is a "Christian state led by pro-life governor Bobby Jindal."
Braniff marched alongside more than 3,500 of anti-abortion protestors assembled on the steps of the state Capitol last month to protest the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
The main religious affiliations represented in the January march in Baton Rouge were Roman Catholic and Baptist, the state's largest dominations.
Braniff said the long-term goal of the pro-life movement is to make Louisiana the first state in the nation to ban all abortions.
"Obama has been the worst pro-abortion president ever," said Braniff, who would like to see Ron Paul make it to the White House.
Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul is labeled as a "pro-life champion," according to his 2012 campaign committee Web site. Paul plans to repeal Roe v. Wade and pass his "Sanctity of Life Act," which defines life at conception.
Bourgeois said she prays political candidates will "do the right thing" to end abortion. "As long as we're going to kill babies, we're going to stay at the bottom."
First-time marcher Shane LeBlanc from Carencro's Knights of Columbus chapter believes the pro-life movement is fueled by a combination of upbringing and church. "It becomes a family tradition. We are teaching the young not to take a life."
Executive Director of Louisiana Right to Life Federation Ben Clapper said the march is meant to motivate people to be more involved in the pro-life movement as well as attract the attention of Louisiana's political leaders.
Clapper was among those calling for an end to Planned Parenthood funding. (Only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood funds went towards abortion services, according to Planned Parenthood's Annual Report 2009-2010.)
Clapper said one of his group's aims is to end government funding for abortion, while establishing legislation that provides "life-affirming," educated choices for pregnant mothers.
Clapper says this year, the Right to Life Federation hopes to reinforce Louisiana's "Ultrasound Before Abortion Act" signed into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal in 2010, providing a pregnant woman with a mandatory ultrasound image before abortion.
Jessica Hood from Ruston said choosing a pro-life presidential candidate like Mitt Romney is important, but is not the primary issue that will decide her vote.
Romney's pro-life platform calls for a reversal of Roe v. Wade. However, Romney does support abortion if limited rape, incest and to save the life of the mother. During his run for governor of Massachusetts, Romney took a pro-choice public position.
Hood hopes Christian politicians follow their values rather than a politically correct agenda.
"Nationwide, we are becoming a society of ‘do what you want,' with no one to hold you accountable," said Hood, who believes the guilt never goes away for women who choose abortion.
Wendy Hintze from Fort Worth, Texas, heard about the pro-life march while traveling through Baton Rouge. Hintze said that she believes life begins at conception.
Hintze and Hood said they oppose abortion as an option for women who become pregnant as a result of sexual violence. Both women said they strongly advocate adoption.
"Getting rid of a child because of a crime is not the answer," said Hintze. "We're here to stand up for babies who don't have a voice."
"No matter the circumstances, God has a plan for that child," said Hood, who said she is struggling to become pregnant and considering adoption. "Babies can be given to homes unable to have children."
One of three women who silently protested the march of thousands, Melissa Reilley, said she remembers life for women before Roe v. Wade. She supports a woman's right to choose abortion for unwanted pregnancy.
"Women are suffering violence and poverty, and these are their rights," said Reilley. "Every child should be wanted."