Berkshire teenagers to protest abortion rights in Washington, D.C.


NORTH ADAMS -- Teenagers Emma Arabia and Michala Dean have never been to Washington D.C., but on Thursday evening they boarded a bus for an overnight trip to the nation's capital to participate in the nation's largest annual anti-abortion-rights protest, the March for Life.

Forty years has passed since the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which made banning abortions unconstitutional, but time hasn't muted differing opinions on the subject. People nationwide, including a sizable Berkshire delegation, will converge in Washington and walk to the Supreme Court to express their opposition.

"I think [I am going] mainly to put it out there that abortion is not right," said Dean, 17, who equated abortion to the taking of a life.

Dean will be in Washington with others from St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish in North Adams.

"We should practice abstinence and not encourage casual sex," he added.

Arabia, 16, also from St. Elizabeth, said she is dealing with a cold but was still enthusiastic about the trip. She said she was making the trip to broaden her education on the subject.

"I think it's a very deep issue, so I am still trying to figure out what I want to [say]," said Arabia, who described abortion as a "huge running issue."

Fifty-three people, predominately from the Berkshires -- including 17 from St. Elizabeth -- will be attending. The bus trip was largely paid for by the Massachusetts Citizens for Life. There were also others from Vermont and New York who also rode along.

Following the shooting of 20 children in Newtown, Conn., Debbie Pickering listened to President Barack Obama on national television and said she felt compelled to participate in the walk.

"It is a controversial topic and sometimes it's hard to have the courage to speak about what you believe in," said Pickering, a group leader at St. Elizabeth.

The March for Life is organized by the March for Life Education and Defense Fund. The theme this year is the equation: "40=55M" to indicate nearly 55 million abortions have been performed since Roe v. Wade, according to March for Life.

There will be a youth rally and then, after listening to several speakers, at noon those in attendance will march from the National Mall to the Supreme Court.

Adams resident Zoe Loughman, 16, attended her first March for Life Walk when she was 14.

Her mother, Robin Loughman, runs the North Adams Chapter of the Massachusetts Citizens for Life.

Robin Loughman disagrees that banning abortion conflicts with a woman's right to chose.

"I think that idea is good in theory," said Robin Loughman, who said that harming an innocent child isn't right.

Robin Loughman said she was proud when her daughter approached her about participating in the march.

"Everybody wants to help women, but we approach it in different ways," Robin Loughman said. "We don't think [abortions] are helping women."

To reach John Sakata:
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