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SPRINGFIELD, Illinois (LifeSiteNews) — Thousands of pro-life advocates gathered at the Illinois State Capitol building on Tuesday, March 21, 2023, for the Illinois March for Life. Civic and religious leaders spoke to crowd at the Lincoln Statue, several echoing the words of the Great Emancipator as they appealed to Illinois legislators to protect the women and children being preyed upon by the abortion industry.

Immediately following the March, pro-life advocates met with state representatives and state senators to share how pregnancy resource centers offer tangible support to women through pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, cribs, car seats, parenting classes, and diapers.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki at the Illinois March for Life

The Most Reverend Thomas J. Paprocki, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, echoed Abraham Lincoln as he spoke about abortion in the same words that Lincoln used to address slavery in 1868 Springfield.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand,” asserted Paprocki, “I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half pro-abortion and half pro-life. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”

Paprocki then called for “the members of Illinois’ executive, legislative and judicial of branches of our Illinois state government …to find compassion for the lives of the most vulnerable among us, the sacred human lives of unborn babies.”

One of those Illinois legislators, the Honorable Dr. William E. Hauter, M.D., Illinois State Representative, District 87 (R-Morton), spoke emphatically about choice. He shared how many in the Illinois state house are seeking to “silence and intimidate” pregnancy resource centers, the only places in Illinois where women are offered “true choices,” along with material, emotional, and medical support. Hauter emphasized that this help is offered free of charge without spending one cent of taxpayer dollars and contrasted these care centers with abortion facilities that only present women with the choice to abort their child.

Hauter lamented that Illinois’ goal seems to be making abortion, “Common, celebrated, and less safe than ever before.” Denouncing the proposed Illinois Senate Bill 1909 that would force pro-life pregnancy resource centers to provide abortion referrals, he noted, “They don’t care that this bill is unconstitutional, irrational, and unpopular … We must persevere. We are right on every level of this argument, and that makes us mighty indeed.”

Hauter left the podium, backed by more than a dozen pro-life legislators, one of whom led the audience in an impromptu chant, “Give me an L, give me an I, give me an F, give me an E,” to the delight of the crowd. 

READ: Illinois gov signs extreme law repealing partial-birth abortion ban

Anna Kinksey, Executive Director of weDignify, the organization that oversees the Illinois March for Life, explained that SB 1909 is the most recent in six years of legislation designed to cater to abortion vendors.

Kinksey detailed how Springfield lawmakers have repealed parental notification protections, passed the Reproductive Health Act, allowing abortion through all nine months, removed the requirement of health inspections for abortion facilities, codified taxpayer funding of abortion, enabled non-physicians to perform surgical abortions, and permitted doctors who have been stripped of their medical licenses by other states to come perform abortions in Illinois. She then invited all present to meet with their legislators following the rally and march, sharing that the presence of the state senators and representatives at the State Capitol was a primary factor in the decision to relocate the March for Life Chicago and rebrand it as the Illinois March for Life.

Reverend Michael Mohr, president of Central Illinois District of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, highlighted the significance of being in Springfield.

“Roughly one year ago, the majority of politicians in this building behind me were crying out what I thought was a cautionary tale… ‘if Roe v. Wade is overturned,’ they called, ‘we will return to back-alley abortions.’ Little did I realize at the time that they were not giving warnings about unintended consequences, but they were announcing their legislative agenda,” recalled Mohr.

“Unexpected mobile facilities positioned in abandoned lots along the borders of the state, staffed by doctors who had their credentials suspended in other states, these back alley conditions are now the new standard of care codified in our laws,” Mohr continued. “The women of this state, the women who travel here from out of state, and the children they carry in their wombs deserve better. And we can do better.”

READ: Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker declares March 10 ‘Abortion Provider Appreciation Day’

The life advocates were encouraged to be vigilant in activism by Illinois Right to Life Executive Director Mary Kate Zander, and inspired by Faith, whose abandonment by her birth mother, adoptive parents, and the father of her child, drove her to despair until she found acceptance and support at ThriVe ® Metro East Express Women’s Healthcare, a pro-life pregnancy resource center. 

For Serena Dyksen, the devastating impact of abortion prompted her to establish the abortion recovery ministry, She Found His Grace. Sexually assaulted at 13, she was given an abortion by notorious George Klopfer, the abortionist who hoarded the remains of more than 2,400 babies in his garage. At 16, Dyksen and her now husband would face another unplanned pregnancy and once again find Planned Parenthood offering her an abortion.

“That day we chose life,” shared Dyksen. “Illinois has turned to the God of child sacrifice – this is a call for women who will stand for babies in the womb.”

To those who witness for life outside of abortion facilities, Dyksen said, “I am so thankful for every single person who goes to the sidewalk to advocate for women. Please do not stop going. I am forever thankful for you guys.”

As the event’s final speaker, Reverend Dr. Matthew Harrison, president of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, encouraged all present to “Be of good cheer.” He proclaimed that “The unborn child is a person. Every human being is equally and eternally valuable no matter what court recognizes this bold truth or not … that’s the truth of science, that’s the truth of medicine, that’s the truth of technology … that’s the truth of religion … that’s the truth of all moral philosophy … that’s the truth of reason … and that’s the eternal truth upon which this country is founded … Every child is entitled to love.” And Harrison pointed to the practical fact that “there is no shortage of willing adoptive parents right here in Illinois.”

A senior at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Antonio Gonzalez, is a student leader at weDignify. He urged for involvement at any level, saying, “We all have the power to influence others, inviting them to experience truth.”

Kinksey announced that the Illinois March for Life will return to the State Capitol Building in Springfield on Tuesday, March 19, 2024.

About the Illinois March for Life (Formerly the March for Life Chicago)

The Illinois March for Life is an annual public event composed of people from diverse ethnic, social, and religious backgrounds dedicated to defending and protecting all human life. The event marks with deep sadness the great tragedy of the legalization of abortion in the United States along with the devastating social, moral, and legal consequences that have followed. Marching together in hope, the Illinois March for Life calls upon government, religious, civic, and community leaders to renew every effort to build a nation that affirms the authentic dignity of women, the gift of children, and a culture dedicated to protecting life at every stage of development. Learn more at

weDignify, an Illinois-based, pro-life organization that mentors college students into pro-life leaders, runs the Illinois March for Life Chicago in collaboration with many organizations. The 2023 event is sponsored by many organizations, including Illinois Right to Life, The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, Wisconsin Right to Life, and the Knights of Columbus Illinois State Council.