January 21, 2013

Anti-abortion demonstrators march in Plattsburgh


---- — PLATTSBURGH — “The weather’s not gonna stop us,” Tom Healey of Keeseville said Sunday.

Healey and his wife, Anne Marie, attended the annual March for Life, a Plattsburgh anti-abortion demonstration sponsored by Champlain Valley Right to Life.

The cold and wind did not intimidate Healey and his fellow marchers.

“They don’t stop abortions because of the weather, and we’re not going to stop protesting because of the weather.”

Healey, 78, has been part of Champlain Valley Right to Life for more than 20 years. He calls abortion “a tragic mistake that our country is making.”

Healey noted that he is a professor of biology who has worked at SUNY Plattsburgh and Clinton Community College.

“I understand when life begins — life begins at conception, that’s a matter of certainty.”

Healey usually joins anti-abortion marches on Washington, but was not able to do so this year.

“We’re getting older,” Anne Marie said with a smile. Like her husband, however, she said she was at the Plattsburgh event to “stand for life.”

The Healeys joined a crowd of about 200 like-minded, sign-carrying demontrators for the march, which began at the Newman Center on Broad Street and continued to St. John’s Church, also on Broad Street. There, Dr. John Middleton introduced the guest speaker, Bishop Terry LaValley of the Diocese of Ogdensburg, a native of Mooers Forks.

In response to the event, Martha Stahl, vice president of external affairs for Planned Parenthood of the North Country, noted that Jan. 22 is the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

“A lot of us who work in women’s health care and reproductive health care and reproductive rights feel it’s somewhat unbelievable that we’re still having this same conversation. I’d like to see a change in the conversation,” Stagl said. “How can we support women in making decisions for themselves and their family?”

“I think it’s really important to point out that Planned Parenthood is often held up at these events as being all about abortion, but more than 90 percent of the work we do is basic preventative health care. Locally, it’s usually between 3 to 5 percent of our services that are abortion services. Not that we aren’t proud we offer that, but I just want to point out how much Planned Parenthood does to prevent unintended pregnancy.”


Meanwhile, at St. John’s Church, the speakers addressed those attending the March for Life event.

“Bishop LaValley talked about how we should look at life as a gift from Almighty God,” said Jack Lukasiewicz, a deacon at Our Lady of Victory Church in Plattsburgh.

“And Monsignor Aubin closed the service and reinforced our desire to value life,” he said. “We had the choir, as well, and they added immeasurably to the service — they uplifted us.”

Tom Healey was pleased with Sunday’s event: “I thought it was very good. The Bishop gave a very hopeful and very somber assessment of what’s happening.”

It might seem like an unusual combination of emotions, but both were present, he noted: “hopeful and somber.”