GOP Candidates Show Support of Right to Life Rally
While the candidates weren't at the rally, many of them sent letters of support and representatives to emphasize their pro-life stance.
Thousands of people gathered in front of the Statehouse in Columbia Saturday to take a stand against abortion.
With the Republican presidential primary only seven days away, this year's rally took on a political tone. While the candidates themselves were at a forum for undecided voters in Charleston, supporters and representatives from their campaigns came out to show their stance on the issue.
Rick Perry's son, Griffin Perry, and Rick Santorum's daughter, Elizabeth Santorum, sat on the steps of the Statehouse during the event, which included singing, words from religious leaders and a keynote speaker.
The emcee of the event read letters from Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, who both expressed their support for the pro-life movement.
Rick Santorum, who has taken a strong stance against abortion, got a loud cheer from the crowd when his letter was introduced.
Members of the Duggar family - an Arkansas family of 19 made famous by the TLC show "19 Kids and Counting" — were also at the rally to support Santorum. The family doesn't believe in birth control. They have been helping him campaign in Iowa and South Carolina, and plan to continue in Florida.
The crowd was also populated with non-celebrity Santorum supporters. Anne Moore, a Lexington County resident, was holding a Rick Santorum sign, as well as anti-abortion signs that read "Stop Abortion Now" and "Defend Life."
"I believe in life from conception to natural death," Moore said. "Every baby deserves the right to life."
Compared to the other candidates running for the Republican presidential nomination, Moore said Santorum was the most qualified to support life.
"I've followed Rick for many, many years. I've seen him at many pro-life conferences," she said. "I believe he's genuine."
Irmo resident Ed Odom called abortion the "moral dilemma" in today's world.
"I'm here because we're slaughtering babies and that's murder," Odom said. "Whether or not it's been defined legally that way."
Odom said he favors Santorum over the other candidates partly because of his stance on abortion, but is unsure about his ability to win in the general election.
"A lot of people feel he doesn't have a chance of beating Obama," Odom said.
While many in the crowd seemed to be Santorum supporters, other candidates were represented as well.
Ron Paul supporters handed out information, greeting people with "Do you know that Ron Paul is pro-life?"
Representatives from Newt Gingrich's campaign stood on the steps holding a "Newt 2012" banner.
"Newt Gingrich is pro-life. He believes in life from conception to death," said Cait Stadler, who works for the Gingrich campaign in Columbia. "We'd just like to emphasize that."
Later in the rally, the crowd heard from Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood employee turned pro-life activist.
Fred Williams of Word of God Church and Ministries in Columbia was wearing a "Thank God My Mom Was Pro-Life" sticker on his jacket. No one from his church was wearing a political sticker or carrying a sign.
"We're here to represent Jesus," Williams said. "Before a fetus ever became a fetus, God knew us. He knew our name."