Retired National Football League player Ben Watson explained the importance of men in battling abortion, stating at a major pro-life rally in New York’s Times Square that “fatherhood begins in the womb.”
The “Alive From New York” event on Saturday afternoon was organized by Focus on the Family and featured several speakers as well as a live sonogram of a third trimester baby.
Watson called on the men at the gathering to not avoid conversations about abortion, but rather “to step up and to step into these conversations with boldness and with grace and with conviction.”
“As families across our country are being destroyed and as lives are being extinguished, we must expose the lies that are being told. We must peel back those layers of deceit,” said Watson.
“We have to be men who are willing to step into that boldly and with confidence because we were made to be protectors and providers. You have what it takes to be the man God designed you to be.”
Watson said that the voice of pro-life men is “greatly needed” in the “public sphere,” also stressing that “fatherhood begins in the womb.”
“That’s where is starts,” continued Watson. “It doesn’t start when the baby is out. The relationship you have with the mother, the relationship you have talking to that child en utero. Fatherhood begins in the womb.”
“There are millions of preborn children and courageous, precious mothers that are depending on us men to be men. So let’s do it.”
Claire Culwell, Melissa Ohden, and Josiah Presley — individuals who reportedly survived abortion attempts when they were in the womb — also gave remarks on the Times Square stage.
“We’re not imaginary,” said Ohden to those gathered. “I’ve been hearing that a lot lately. That abortion survivors don’t exist.”
“We’re not alone in this. A lot of survivors will never share their stories publicly … they live private lives for many reasons.”
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, head of the Archdiocese of New York, shared comments to the pro-life gathering via a video message, as he was unable to be there in-person due to an overseas trip.
“You all are living witnesses that every life matters,” stated Dolan in the video message. “Your life matters. The lives of the unborn, the elderly, the immigrant, the disabled. They matter.”
“I’m glad you’re all gathered to celebrate this sacred truth. Especially now and especially in New York, I’m embarrassed to say, where we’re seeing an unprecedented attack against the human rights of the preborn infant and the most vulnerable in our state.”
Francesca Battistelli, a Grammy award-winning contemporary Christian singer and songwriter, was among the musicians present and performed various religious songs during the event.
Other speakers included Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood leader whose conversion to the pro-life movement inspired the movie “Unplanned;” Ashley Bratcher, the actress who portrayed Johnson in the movie; Alveda King, director of civil rights for the unborn for Priests for Life and niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; and Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List.
The event was hosted by Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, and Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life.
“The event comes at a fraught culture moment in our country. It is a time when Americans can see with their own eyes the humanity of the unborn child and can act to protect that life,” wrote Mancini in advance of the event.
“And yet elected officials across the nation are pushing laws that allow abortion-on-demand for any reason throughout all nine months of pregnancy.”
“Alive from New York” was held in response to the state passing a law in January that effectively legalized abortion up until the moment of birth.
Known as the Reproductive Health Act, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law on the anniversary of the United States Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.
“Today I signed the #ReproductiveHealthAct — codifying Roe v. Wade into state law and protecting women's reproductive rights no matter what the federal government does. This is a victory for all New Yorkers,” he tweeted at the time.
In addition to the large crowd of pro-lifers both from New York and elsewhere, a considerable number of counter-demonstrators were also present.