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(LifeSiteNews) — South American countries Argentina, Ecuador, and Peru celebrated the feast of the Annunciation on March 25 as the Day of the Unborn with large pro-life marches.

On Saturday, 20,000 people turned out for the March for Life in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the Day of the Unborn was first observed in 1999 after a presidential declaration by Argentine President Carlos Menem. His decree noted, “Under our constitution and our civil legislation, life begins at the moment of conception,” a stance from which the Argentine legislature has since tragically departed.

At the time of its institution, the Day of the Unborn received strong support from Pope John Paul II, who wrote in a letter, “My hope is that every person will use the International Day for the Unborn Child as an opportunity to raise greater awareness about the dignity of human life, to pray for an end to the violent crime against nascent life, for healing of those who have procured an abortion or encouraged or participated in one, for every life, without exception, to be cherished and loved, for all who tirelessly work to defend and serve life, and for our nation to become a genuine Culture of Life.”

In 2020, the legislature of Argentina legalized abortion on demand throughout the country up to 14 weeks of pregnancy. Speaking of the hope to repeal the abortion law, Argentine pro-life leader Ana Belén Marmora said of the marches throughout the country, “It’s important because if we really want to repeal the disastrous law on abortion. Now more than ever we have to make it clearly seen that this is not over and that no one here is giving up.”

Additional marches were held Saturday across Argentina in the cities of Salta, Tucumán, Bahía Blanca, Corrientes, Mar de Plata, Córdoba, and Santiago del Estero.

Likewise, thousands of pro-lifers marched in the Ecuadorian cities of Quito, Guayaquil, and Cuenca. The Day of the Unborn was established in Ecuador by President Alfredo Palacios González in a 2006 decree that recognizes the conceived child as a person. The decree guarantees “the right to life, expressly recognizing the baby as a living human being and a legal person who cannot be discriminated against due to his/her unborn condition.”

Notably featured at Ecuador’s march was the “Voice of the Unborn” bell, owned by the Yes to Life movement and Daule Bishop Emeritus Giovanni Piccioli. The bell was blessed by the Pope in October 2021 and sent to Ecuador in the middle of a national debate on a bill to legalize abortion in cases of rape.

At the March for Life in Lima, Peru, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Adriano Tomasi declared to the thousands who gathered, “We believe in the God of life, in the God of the family. Now as an older person, I come to defend our lives, so that laws that exclude us are not made, because life is immeasurable, life is a gift from God.”

In an interview for the online podcast Reason and Theology, Norbertine Father Alan Benander spoke of the theological significance of observing the feast of the Annunciation as the Day of the Unborn and the true horror of the murder of the baby in the womb through abortion.

Recounting the original inspiration for the day, Benander said, “John Paul II… released his famous encyclical on life, Evangelium Vitae, on March 25, 1995. It’s a day on which, remembering that Our Lord became a baby in the womb, a child in the womb … in various ways [we can] honor children in the womb throughout the world.”

Benander then highlighted the connection to the Incarnation, which he said is really what is being celebrated on the feast of the Annunciation.

“God became man,” he said. “Humanity and Divinity were married… Our Lady being the representative of humanity, giving humanity’s yes to God in the marriage of the two Natures in the Person of Christ.”

“God became man… What dignity that gives to all children in the womb!”

“Our faith says… God was once one of you little ones!”

Benander continued, “We don’t know just from natural reason… that these children have dignity, but to think that God became a little baby, an unborn baby!” “From the first moment of His conception this baby in Mary’s womb is God!” “If that doesn’t motivate us Christians to say [that] we need to defend these kids because their biggest representative is God himself, God incarnate!”

Speaking of the witness offered to the world in conducting pro-life marches on the Annunciation, Benander said, “It tells the world, even those who aren’t Christian – why are you marching this day – well, this is when our God became man. You may not have known this: This is when our God became not just man, but a baby in the womb.”

Benander then pointed out that the Annunciation is also the day on which Mary became a mother, highlighting the importance for women to realize that abortion harms them precisely as mothers.

“So first it’s a day of honoring Our Lady… This is the day when she became a mom,” Benander said. “The problem with abortion is it doesn’t prevent you from being a mom… Abortion just makes you the mom of a baby who’s been killed… a dead baby… That’s the problem, that’s why women suffer from that.”

“So Mary became a mom at the Incarnation and… what a mom she was, and what a baby she had!”

Benander went on to say the day also honors the child in the womb, both those tragically lost through abortion and those still alive in the womb of their mothers.

“We’re honoring both those children who have been lost primarily through abortion… who never got a chance, who never reached it to birth for whatever reason, but especially through abortion, the sin of abortion,” as well as “the children who are there [alive in the womb] now, so that we just grow in our appreciation for these children in the womb.”

Asked about the power of directly naming the act of abortion as murder, Benander called on pro-lifers to be unafraid of condemning the crime in the clearest terms possible. He said, “The fact that the pro-life community has been rather reticent in saying that abortion is murder – three words, period – I think that’s been a great injustice to those children in the womb, because… it’s clouded the issue unnecessarily. This is a very clear issue; there’s really no actual debate to be had here.”

The priest continued, “On the baby’s part, all those babies who have been aborted can say for all eternity, I was murdered in the womb.”

Speaking then of Planned Parenthood’s abortion facilities, Benander stated, “If we saw what happens there, we would be horrified… It’s barbaric murder… especially… the older the baby is; it’s extremely barbaric, and painful, and grotesque. No human being should ever go through that, let alone a little baby!”

“So we need to realize babies are being murdered,” he declared. “We just need to be more upfront… This is the worst kind of child abuse, it’s the worst kind of human sin against humanity – crime against humanity – that’s going on today.”