The pro-life movement in the United States is mourning the death of Nellie Gray, the founder of the annual March for Life in Washington, DC — probably the world’s largest annual pro-life event.
The charismatic octogenarian, once described by Cardinal Sean O’Malley as the “Joan of Arc” of the pro-life movement, was a ubiquitous figure at the Washington event for 38 years, introducing the many luminaries who addressed the crowd of several hundred thousand during the rally before the march.
Gray was a lawyer and former federal employee who devoted herself full-time to the pro-life movement after the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
This “tugging at her heartstrings” ultimately led her to retire from law and devote herself to the pro-life cause.
She used the phrase “no exceptions, no compromise” to sum up her belief that life begins at conception and that no abortion should be legal.
Father Frank Pavone, former national director of Priests for Life, recalled that Gray was in many respects an unwitting founder of an event that was destined to transform the pro-life movement by drawing hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic pro-life advocates to Capitol Hill every year.
“She never expected or planned to start a March for Life,” he said. “She would often tell me with a humorous recollection, ‘You know Father, they just wanted to have a meeting, and some of us came together, and we decided to use my house for the meeting, and we thought we would have one march and that would be it.
“And before you know it, I was in charge of this march. And it’s not something that I wanted or anticipated, but we came together, we did it, and before we know it we had to do it a second time and one thing led to another.”
News category: World.