The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City canceled its Oklahoma March for Life due to concerns about the safety of people attending the event that had been planned at the state Capitol.

The event had been set for Friday to celebrate the dignity of human life and to mark the Jan. 22 anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

“We initially planned the Oklahoma March for Life as a way for Oklahomans of various faiths to participate locally,” Diane Clay, the archdiocese’s communications director, said.

In a news release, she said the march’s cancellation was made “for the safety and security of all participating families and speakers.” A virtual prayer event was set for Friday instead to celebrate the dignity of human life.

In previous years, many Oklahomans have participated in the “March for Life” rally held on Jan. 22 near Capitol Hill in Washington. The Associated Press reported that organizers of the anti-abortion March for Life movement asked their supporters nationwide not to gather this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and political unrest.

In Oklahoma, Gov. Kevin Stitt activated the Oklahoma National Guard to protect the state Capitol building after warnings were circulated that all 50 state capitals could see armed protests in the days after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot in Washington and the time period surrounding the presidential inauguration on Wednesday. Stitt’s office said in a news release that no credible threats had been identified in Oklahoma, but enhanced security at the Capitol was put in place as a precaution.

Noelle Garcia McHugh, co-cordinator of the archdiocese’s Respect Life office, addressed the potential for violence in a letter to the faithful.

“Through much prayer and discernment, it has become abundantly clear that we must not allow our peaceful march to be confused by the public or in the media with those threatening violence against our capitol building. We also will not allow anyone with an agenda to take advantage of our public gathering to damage the reputation of our pro-life community and the many ministries that are saving women and children from abortion every day,” she wrote.


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