By Holly Gatling, Executive Director, South Carolina Citizens for Life
Editor’s note. This appears in the February edition of National Right to Life News. Please share this story with your pro-life family and friends.
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina Citizens for Life celebrated its 50th Jubilee Anniversary with a two-day event January 5-6, 2024, including the Proudly Pro-Life Dinner featuring Seth Dillon, CEO of the Babylon Bee, and the annual Stand Up for Life March and Rally that has been held every year since 1974 despite the unpredictable January weather.
The Proudly Pro-Life Dinner was established in 2010 in the gymnasium of Our Lady of the Hills Catholic Church and has grown every year since. In 2012, SCCL moved to an events venue which accommodated the growth of the dinner through last year. This year we realized we needed to move to the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center to accommodate the pro-life participants. Nearly 900 pro-life supporters gathered to hear popular pro-life speaker Seth Dillon and to enjoy uplifting music provided by Joyful Sound of North Greenville University and the Chetta Strings, a sibling group of professional musicians.
SCCL President Lisa Van Riper presented a special Jubilee award to Pastor Bill Monroe, pastor of the Florence Baptist Temple, Florence, S.C., who helped start South Carolina Citizens for Life in 1974.
Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, Lynda Bell, Chairman of the NRLC Board of Directors, and Bill Pincus, M.D., president of North Carolina Right to Life were among the out-of-state guests to join in the Jubilee celebration.
SCCL President Lisa Van Riper’s video recollections of the organizations 50 years of operation can be seen here.
The forecast for Saturday, January 6, was abysmal with more than an inch of rain predicted to fall on our parade. Many people prayed for God’s favor and the rain slacked up around 9 a.m. The overcast and windy weather did not deter at least 300 pro-life marchers who gathered at the University of South Carolina’s Russell House and, led by the Knights of Columbus, marched seven blocks to the State Capitol.
The Stand Up for Life rally began at noon and ended at 1 p.m. with featured speakers including Mrs. Tobias and South Carolina’s pro-life Lt. Governor Pamela Evette. Pro-Life Attorney General Alan Wilson emceed both events and his father, U.S. Representative Joe Wilson, R-S.C., attended both events.
South Carolina Citizens for Life was incorporated in 1974. On a fascinating cycle-of-life note, the Secretary of State who signed the Article of Incorporation, the late O. Frank Thornton, is the great-grandfather of one of SCCL’s and National Right to Life’s most active staff members, Austin Cherry. Austin began volunteering when he was 13 years old. He went on to intern with NRLC and to lobby at the United Nations as an NGO (non-governmental organization) representative for National Right to Life. He is now married and living in Switzerland with his wife Debbie, and they are expecting their first child — the great-great-grandchild of the man who signed the SCCL Articles of Incorporation fifty years ago.