KAHULUI - About three dozen people turned out Saturday for a "Maui March for Life," a protest of the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized abortion.
"It's a national tragedy," said Norm Franco, a deputy grand knight with the Maui Knights of Columbus Council 8578.
More than 55 million fetuses have been aborted since the Supreme Court decision, and that's enough to equal the populations of most Western U.S. states, including California, Washington state and Arizona, Franco said.
Pro-life activists turn into the parking lot at Christ the King Church at the end of their “Maui March for Life” on Saturday morning in Kahului.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
"That's the magnitude of this tragedy," he said. "Thou shall not kill. Life is created at the time of conception. It's something we feel strongly is wrong."
Franco said that public opinion is divided over the issue of abortion, but he was optimistic that it would turn in favor of being pro-life.
"Life is a gift from God," he said, adding that people will never know if an aborted fetus could have been another Albert Einstein, the renowned theoretical physicist famous for his theory of relativity, or the discoverer of a cure for cancer or a solution to global warming.
Joshua Schneider, pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, said that pro-life proponents are working to establish a pregnancy center called the Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui.
It would seek to help women in crisis, he said, offering free, confidential and compassionate care. The center also would offer free pregnancy and ultrasound tests, and it would provide counseling for women who have had abortions or miscarriages, Schneider said.
Women would be told of God's forgiveness, and they would be helped through their loss of a child, he said.
"We're there today to defend life and to be a voice for the voiceless," Schneider said. "We believe the taking of innocent life is wrong."
Retired family physician Dr. Manuel Guzman said that he took an oath to protect life, including those of unborn fetuses.
He said that the the unborn have the "right to live and right to serve humanity."
The protesters began with a half-hour of sign waving near the intersection of Kaahumanu Avenue and Kane Street. Then the group walked east on Kaahumanu Avenue and south on Puunene Avenue to Christ the King Church in Kahului. There, they held a Rosary in front of the Memorial for the Unborn.
The Maui march came a day after anti-abortion demonstrators marched through Washington, D.C., to the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday. The high court issued its Roe v. Wade decision on Jan. 22, 1973. The ruling created a constitutional right to abortion in some circumstances.
Katie Polidoro, director of public affairs and government relations for Planned Parenthood Hawaii, defended the Roe v. Wade decision as protecting women's right to choose whether to have a child.
"We think it's really important to recognize women's rights to privacy and specifically relating to pregnancy," Polidoro said. "Decisions about whether to have a child, choose adoption or to have a safe and legal abortion are best left to a woman and her health provider."
She said that people concerned about the lives of fetuses are not able to be "in another person's shoes well enough to make that decision for her."
"It's not something that politics should ever get in the way of," she said.
Abortion should remain a "safe and legal option for women in Hawaii and the United States," Polidoro said.