ALEXANDRIA (LBM)–During a pivotal year that will see a ballot initiative in the fall that offers a constitutional amendment to protect our pro-life laws from being overturned, Louisianans gathered on multiple weekends in January and February around the state to declare their love for life and to offer support for the Love Life Amendment. According to information provided by Louisiana Right to Life, a crowd of 2,500 gathered in Shreveport Jan. 19; 500 in Lake Charles Jan. 22; 1,500 marched in Baton Rouge Jan. 25; 2,500 participated in Monroe/West Monroe Jan. 26; and 4,000 rallied in Alexandria/Pineville Feb. 1. At each event, all under the theme of “Louisiana Loves Life,” participants held a large “Louisiana Life March” banner to lead the procession. Others held up signs proclaiming “Life Matters” while some displayed signs urging pro-lifers to “End Abortion Now.”
All five marches come at a time when Louisiana voters will have the chance to pass the “Love Life Amendment,” slated to be on the statewide ballot Nov. 3. This proposed constitutional amendment reads “To protect human life, nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”
The amendment aims to prevent the overturning of pro-life laws in the state – something which has taken place in 13 other states, where an activist judge on the highest court in each state found an “inherent right to abortion” in the respective constitution, despite there not being any language in any of the constitutions that actually makes that claim.
For its part, the Louisiana Baptist Office of Public Policy is organizing a campaign to be coordinated with associational mission strategists/directors of missions to help pastors inform their congregations about the issues and to energize members about the vote this fall.
During the 2019 Louisiana Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Alexandria, messengers approved a resolution that gives “our strongest possible endorsement of the Love Life Amendment and the constitutional protection it affords against unilateral actions to undo prolife laws’ and urges “all eligible Louisiana Baptists to register and to vote for the Love Life Amendment and to encourage others to do likewise in order to overwhelmingly pass this 2020 ballot measure.”
Meanwhile, the many pro-life efforts in Louisiana have garnered national attention. Americans United for Life on Jan. 23 named Louisiana as the most pro-life state in America.
AUL released its 2020 “Defending Life” report after analyzing progress made legislatively or in litigation in 2019. The annual report contains its annual “Life List ranking all 50 states based on each state’s body of law associated with the life issues, ranging from abortion to euthanasia.
AUL’s decision to place Louisiana at the top of the list was based on the strong Louisiana pro-life legislation passed in 2019, Louisiana’s role in the upcoming June Medical Services v. Gee Supreme Court case, the presence of the Love Life Constitutional Amendment on the 2020 ballot, and the continued bipartisan commitment to the pro-life cause.
In March, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case involving abortion provider June Medical Services, which has filed suit against the constitutionality of a Louisiana law that requires all physicians performing abortions to have admitting privileges within 30 miles of their abortion facility.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals previously upheld Louisiana’s law and in early January more than 200 legislators filed an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to uphold the decision.
John Fream, pastor of Cypress Baptist Church in Benton, encouraged the crowd gathered at the Shreveport Festival Plaza to turn out and vote during the November election, and to show love to those who oppose the pro-life movement.
“We can do all kinds of things, but if we don’t love, we are missing the point,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you have had an abortion, it doesn’t matter if you are pro-choice, we love you. And we as the church have got to stand and love. But make no mistake about it, we’ve got to stand.
“Our legislators have done their job,” he continued. “They got this on the ballot. We are going to pass a constitutional amendment from the state of Louisiana that says no one is guaranteed the right to abortion.”
Congressman Mike Johnson, a member of the First Baptist Church in Bossier City, asked for prayers as the state goes before the Supreme Court to argue in defense of Louisiana’s law.
“The founders of this country believed every single life has inestimable dignity and value,” he said. “Your value is not related anyway to the color of your skin, what zip code you live in, where you went to school or what you can contribute to society. Your value is inherent because it is given to you by a holy God, a creator.
“This is a major prayer request,” he continued. “It could be a big deal for the country.
“This is the first time we have a solidly pro-life majority on the Supreme Court thanks to the appointments of President Donald Trump,” Johnson said. “We have an important chance for Louisiana be a big part of turning the tide on this and reversing the tragedy of Roe vs. Wade.”
Perry Hancock, CEO and President of the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home and Family Ministries, prayed at the Monroe/West Monroe march.
“The Apostle Paul in Ephesians said ‘once you’ve taken your stand and you’ve prayed and you’ve done all you can, what do you do?” he asked. “You stand.’ Keep standing.
“We’re going to stand today,” he said. “We’re going to stand tomorrow. God is going to give us the courage and everything we need to help save the children. You’re not standing alone today. And you won’t be alone tomorrow.”
David Cranford, president of the Louisiana Baptist Convention and pastor of the First Baptist Church in Ponchatoula, compared the practice of child sacrifice by God’s people in Jeremiah 7 to America’s support of abortion.
“Our nation has been legally sacrificing children on the altar of convenience and ‘sexual freedom’ for almost 50 years,” he said. “Oh God, help us.
“Pray the prayer of Nehemiah with me over this issue of legalized child sacrifice in one of the few nations on earth that purports to view the right to life as sacrosanct,” he continued. “God grant us success today in the presence of our nation to see the end of abortion in our state and our nation. Pray that the State of Louisiana and Solicitor General Liz Murrill are successful in the June Medical Services v. Gee Supreme Court case in March. Pray for the passage of the Love Life state constitutional amendment in November. God grant us success and favor before the Supreme Court and before the people of the great state of Louisiana.”
Brian Gunter, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Pollock and director of outreach for Louisiana Right to Life, prayed for the end of abortion in the United States.
“We would ask that you use us to be a powerful testimony of the sanctity of the dignity and the beauty of every human life,” he said. “I pray as we march on this beautiful day you have given us joy in our step even as we have sorrow in our hearts for over 8,000 children who lost their life last year to abortion in our state. “And Lord we pray that one day soon abortion would end in Louisiana and ultimately across the entire United States of America.”
Gunter, at the march in Lake Charles, asked the crowd to inform their friends and family about turning out for the vote to support the Louisiana Loves Life amendment. Inclement weather forced the march indoors to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
“When any innocent human life is destroyed, the destruction of that creature made in the image of God that child in the womb of that person is an attack on the creator Himself,” Gunter said. “It’s not just an attack on the children but it’s an attack on the dignity of that child and the truth they were created by God for his glory. It is time to end abortion in the United States of America.”
During the final life march, Louisiana College President Rick Brewer said he was thankful that President Donald Trump was the first sitting president to speak at the National March for Life and rally in Washington, D.C., Jan. 24.
Looking across the crowd gathered on the LC campus for the start of the Louisiana Life March CENLA, Brewer said he was optimistic about the future of the pro-life movement.
“Praise God for those who come behind us – our young people,” he said. “Statistics show a shift in the views of young people nationwide toward the pro-life view.
“Among the thousands of teens and 20-somethings who were in Washington D.C. just days ago were students from Louisiana College, rallying for the unborn,” he said. “As their president and brother in Christ, I applaud their convictions and dedication to right the wrong committed by the generations that preceded them. Louisiana College’s Vision of Preparing Graduates and Transforming Lives includes the belief that all lives matter because all life is sacred – a gift from a benevolent God. As we march today, we will march in sadness for those precious lives snuffed out.”