Defending Life in Connecticut

Created: Apr 18, 2024
Category: General News

Knights join pro-life advocates for the third March for Life in the Order’s home state

By Cecilia Engbert



Knights of Columbus and their families joined nearly 2,000 pro-life advocates to take a stand for life in the Order’s home state at the third annual Connecticut March for Life, held March 20 in Hartford. Knights also sponsored more than 20 buses to bring people to the capital, distributed hundreds of signs and served as marshals along the downtown route.

“This is an extremely important event for the Knights of Columbus; we need to support the sanctity of life,” said State Deputy Joe Rahtelli, speaking to the crowd gathered in front of the Connecticut State Capitol for the pre-march rally. “The Declaration of Independence states that we are all created equal, this must include the unborn. We know that they cannot speak for themselves, but we must … be their voices.”

Connecticut is one of 16 states where the March for Life Education and Defense Fund is holding demonstrations this year. The number of state pro-life marches has grown since the U.S. Supreme Court returned the issue of abortion to state legislatures in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in June 2022.

Abortion is legal in Connecticut for any reason through 24 weeks of pregnancy, and the state has enacted several measures in recent years to make abortions even easier to obtain. More are on the table: A bill currently under consideration, House Bill 5424, would prevent Catholic hospitals or health centers from prohibiting abortion referrals. And a proposed amendment to the state constitution, Senate Joint Resolution No. 4, could protect late-term abortions under its expansive equal protection clause. The amendment will be on the ballot in November if approved by three-quarters of Connecticut General Assembly.

Addressing the rally, Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut and a member of Honorable Reverend Thomas F. Gaffney Council 31 in New Britain, encouraged participants to remain steadfast despite setbacks.

“Why are we here today? Why do we march?” Wolfgang asked. “We want a Connecticut where every unborn child is protected in law and welcomed in life; that is our ultimate goal. Whether or not it happens in our lifetime, when it happens someday, it will happen because all of you are here right now.”

Others who spoke at the rally included Archbishop Leonard P. Blair of Hartford, who led the opening prayer and earlier that day celebrated Mass for participants at the Cathedral of St. Joseph; Erin Getz, director of the March for Life’s state march program; Chris Healy, executive director of Connecticut Catholic Conference; and Anna Montalvo, executive director of ABC Women’s Center, who spoke with representatives from several other pregnancy resource centers standing by her.

“We represent the compassion, hope and healing our communities need,” Montalvo said. “We represent the real choice the women in our communities need: no lies, no deception, no coercion. … Our women do not need abortion. What they need is help. What they need is support. What they need is for someone to tell them that you can have this baby, and we’re going to be there with you.”

ABC Women’s Center, which has locations in Middletown and New Britain, receives no government funding. Its work is only possible, Montalvo said, thanks to the support of pro-life individuals and organizations, including the Knights of Columbus.

The Knights purchased an ultrasound machine for ABC Women’s Center last year, one of 1,823 it has donated to pro-life medical clinics and pregnancy resource centers since 2009. ABC Women’s Center has also received funds through the Order’s ASAP (Aid and Support After Pregnancy) program, which matches 20% of a council’s donation to a PRC or maternity home, up to $2,000. Since the program began in July 2022, Knights have given more than $8 million to these organizations to help women and their children.

“As the Knights developed the ASAP program, our support has increased, almost organically, because there’s more knowledge, there’s more awareness,” said District Deputy Paul Healey, a past grand knight of Pinta Council 5 in Wallingford.

But public demonstrations like the March for Life are also essential, Healey said, especially in Connecticut, where abortion laws are among the most permissive in the country. He and other members of Council 5, along with State Deputy Rahtelli and Supreme Council staff members, made 500 K of C “Love Life, Choose Life” signs to distribute at the march.

“Having the vehicle for those of us who do believe that life is sacred to stand up and say ‘we are here too’ is extremely important,” Healey said.


CECILIA ENGBERT is a content producer for the Knights of Columbus communications department.