PITTSBURG — “One In five babies is aborted in America.”
That was the sign St. Mary’s Colgan eighth grader Jeff Schremmer carried on Monday as he and roughly 50 of his peers marched toward the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka.
Seventh and eighth graders at the Catholic school were part of the roughly one thousand people to march to the statehouse during the annual Pro Life Mass March and Rally for Life in Topeka. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback spoke during the rally and touted the state as the most pro-life in the country.
Colgan Teachers Debbie Butler and Beverly Presley began attending the event with students about five years ago — the high school also does a bi-annual trip to Washington D.C. for a march.
“It’s a very important topic and we both feel strongly about it,” Presley said.
So do the students.
“I’m pro-life and I want people to hopefully be pro-life too,” eighth grader Paide Potusek said.
This is the second year she signed up for the trip, along with Schremmer.
“Hopefully Roe v. Wade can be overturned,” Schremmer said. “And if (President Donald) Trump could do that, that would be great.”
On the day of the march, Trump reinstituted a ban on providing federal money to international groups that perform abortions or provide information about abortions.
The regulation, known as the “Mexico City Policy,” or by critics as the “global gag rule,” was instituted by the late Ronald Reagan, a former Republican president. Since the 1984 rule was put in place, it has been instituted by Republican administrations and rescinded by Democratic ones.
Planned Parenthood, an organization which offers abortions and other women's services, vehemently opposed Trump’s reinstatement of the rule.
“By reinstating the global gag rule as one of his first actions in office, Donald Trump has put politics over women’s lives,” Planned Parenthood Executive Director Latanya Mapp said in a statement. “The global gag rule will cause clinic closures around the world, resulting in more unintended pregnancy and unsafe abortion, not less. The world’s most vulnerable women will suffer as a direct result of this policy, which threatens to undermine years of efforts to improve women’s health worldwide. The policy also sends a false message around the world that the U.S. is against abortion rights above all else — a stance with which many Americans disagree.
Trump’s reinstatement came one day after the 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a decision which legalized abortion.
“He's a pro-life president,” Sean Spicer, White House press secretary, said on Monday. “He wants to stand up for all Americans, including the unborn.”
Funding cuts to Planned Parenthood could affect other women’s services, however it is illegal for taxpayer funding to be used for abortions.
“For women, you don’t say, ‘don’t have an abortion and you’re on you’re own,’” Presley said, adding women need access to some services offered by Planned Parenthood. Although, Presley said she does not support Planned Parenthood and mentioned those services are given at other places.
In 2013, the latest year available, there were 200 abortions for every 1,000 live births in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Kansas Supreme Court will hear arguments March 16 in a case challenging a 2015 law that bans a second-trimester abortion procedure.
A Shawnee County judge ruled the Kansas Constitution protects abortion rights independently of the U.S. Constitution and temporarily blocked the ban. An appeals court was split, leaving the ban in place.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
— Michael Stavola is a staff writer at The Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MichaelStavola1.