PITTSBURGH, PA, January 17, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A pro-life organization called “People Concerned for the Unborn Child” (PCUC) based out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania organizes the largest coordinated contingent to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., sending 120-130 buses yearly.
PCUC, proud to be Pennsylvania’s oldest and largest grassroots pro-life organization, was founded in 1969 as a non-profit organization with the purpose of speaking for and acting on behalf of the unborn child.
Mary Lou Gartner, PCUP’s volunteer coordinator for the March for Life, told LifeSiteNews she has been organizing the trips for over 30 years. She began helping the previous organizer 35 years ago and within a few years took over the position. Now Gartner works from her home, in an office that in years past was her children’s playroom. Gartner is a mother and grandmother of pro-lifers who lead groups to the MFL. In addition to managing the MFL trips, Gartner is the secretary of LifePAC, Southwest Pennsylvania’s pro-life Political Action Committee.
In an interview with LifeSiteNews.com, Gartner explained PCUC’s role: they provide all the necessary information to dedicated bus “captains” who can then plan their group’s way to Washington. “Our organization sends them a bus packet,” Gartner explained. Each packet contains information explaining the MFL and events surrounding it, the 40 Days for Life, and Vision for Life. Videos and DVD’s are also included to help educate the MFL participants while they travel to Washington.
One of PCUP’s main goals is to have pro-lifers visit their senators and congressmen. PCUC provides information in their bus packets about the voting records for the eleven counties they support, in order for the MFL participants to be well-informed. They make appointments with the two senators and six congressmen that represent their area and include petitions to be signed by the pro-lifers and delivered to their government representatives.
“It’s the bus captains we have to educate,” Gartner said. “We let them know what’s going on and they choose what to do.”
With over 120 buses coordinated through PCUC, Gartner works with over 90 bus “captains”. “We have a lot of bus captains that are repeats, they have been doing it for years,” said Gartner. She works closely, however, with the new captains. Gartner told LifeSiteNewscom, “I’m like a mother hen over these buses.”
Gartner said the results of the trip are so positive. “Sometimes [their reason for going] is the wrong reason, a day off school. But when they come back… “
“Being a participant in the massive crowds is a tremendous educational tool. They don’t feel as if they’re alone when they have to be standing up and defending the rights of the unborn. They understand that there are people all over the country that feel this way. It’s very encouraging! They come back with a different attitude… they can’t wait to go back a second time,” said Gartner.
Gartner said they had a Prayer Breakfast for Life last week to pray for the success of the March. “We just prayed for the Lord’s blessings on going to D.C….that those in Washington, all our lawmakers will have their ears open to hear the message we’re that bringing so that eventually the personhood of the unborn will be recognized and the rights of the unborn will be guaranteed and we will have an end to this slaughter of the unborn.”
To find PCUP participants at the March for Life look for their bright yellow stickers: “Southwest Pennsylvania Pro-life”
A list of bus captains and departure sites for Southwest Pennsylvania can be found here.