By Lou Baldwin
Special to The CS&T

Casey Schwartz, a member of Northeast Philadelphia’s Our Lady of Calvary Parish and a senior at Archbishop Ryan High School, traveled to Washington for the Jan. 22 annual March for Life, but she skipped the rally and march and headed straight to the source.

Her day was spent giving witness before the U.S. Supreme Court Building, the place where the ruling that legalized abortion throughout the nation was issued 37 years and 50 million aborted babies ago.

Schwartz is president of Ryan for Life, and her school sent 180 students, one of the largest local school delegations, to Washington for the annual observance.

She’s been a member of the school’s pro-life group since her freshman year, but Schwartz admits before that she really hadn’t thought much about the issue. If anything the idea of choice, choice in all things, seemed reasonable enough to her.

It was in her freshman year at Ryan, under the tutelage of religion teacher Dr. Carl Tori, that she really began to grasp what a terrible thing abortion is. That same year she joined the school’s pro-life group, which has a core membership of about 20 students who attend meetings, she estimates.

Nevertheless she believes most kids today are pro-life, and she points to the huge number of teens who travel to Washington every year for the March for Life.

“Last year was the first time I went and I noticed there were so many young people there,” she said.

This year, the members of the pro-life group, who prayed the rosary, were not alone in front of the Supreme Court Building. Although there was no pro-abortion presence anywhere else along the length of the march, there was a group of pro-abortion counter demonstrators at the court.

“I didn’t expect that because we didn’t see them last year,” Schwartz said.

She believes the counter demonstrators were there because of the proposed health reform legislation, which in the now-stalled Senate version, includes federal funding for elective abortion.

“I think health care reform is good, but abortion is not health care,” she said. “I believe life begins at conception. All life is sacred and needs to be protected.”

As a member of the school’s leadership team in the pro-life movement, Schwartz has gone to Planned Parenthood to pray the rosary and is a member of the pro-life leadership club that meets regularly at Bishop McDevitt High School in Wyncote. She also participates in drives to sell pro-life roses to support the activities of the cause.

“We get together and talk about what we believe and why we believe it,” she said. “We attend seminars to get the facts about what is going on.”

Now, as she is winding down her high school career, Schwartz is looking to the future and college. She’s sent out a few applications to colleges including the University of Pennsylvania. That’s where she would prefer to go, perhaps to pursue pre-med and biology courses in preparation for a future career as a heart surgeon.

That’s a tall order. Penn is tough to get into and it sounds like a demanding course of studies.

“I’m always up for a challenge,” Schwartz said.

Penn is certainly a top school and a great choice. Are there other reasons she would like to go there?

“It has a pro-life group,” she said.

Lou Baldwin is a member of St. Leo Parish and a freelance writer.