By Pat Gee
Borja said 39 years ago his sister, who had already had eight children, was contemplating an abortion. When Borja learned of her decision, he asked to adopt the baby. He and his sister were living on Guam, a year before the historic Jan. 22, 1973, Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, based on a woman's privacy rights.
Aloha Life Advocates is holding its 39th March for Life Hawaii rally on the anniversary of the law's passage at the state Capitol tomorrow from 1 to 4 p.m. This year's theme is "Aloha: Joyfully Sharing Life."
Borja said he was one of 24 siblings from a poor family from the Northern Mariana Islands. Though some of them were stillborn or did not survive childhood, 14 are thriving today. Borja credited the devotion of his Catholic parents, even though it was a struggle to feed and provide for their children.
Borja said God's hand was in the adoption of his eldest daughter. "Something drove me there. I mean, why go to my sister's house that night? I could have gone three weeks later, and it would've been too late. Honestly, I believe it was divine intervention." (Borja speeded up his marriage to wife Alicia, and the couple adopted the baby six months later; they also have two biological daughters.)
His daughter once asked him, "If I were disabled, would you still have taken me? I said: In a heartbeat. There are alternatives to abortion."
Though still affiliated with the National Right to Life Committee, his organization recently changed its name to Aloha Life Advocates since it better depicts its mission, which is to protect life "from conception to natural end," he said.
"We are the voice of the people who cannot speak for themselves — the unborn, the disabled, the elderly, the poor. People who can't stand up for themselves," Borja said.
In addition to advocating against abortion, the group is informing lawmakers and citizens about the drawbacks of euthanasia, he said. The organization needs to remain vigilant against proposals for legislation to allow physician-assisted suicides in recent years, and is prepared to testify, he said.
"We need to be on the forefront to keep the elected officials accountable for their actions and to educate our citizens about the negative consequences of killing of innocent lives," he said.
"We don't beat people over the head, but try to educate them and pray to God they get the message," added Borja, a deacon with the Catholic Diocese of Honolulu who serves at St. Elizabeth Church. "We don't go out to generate hate or violence. We do not approve of the bombing of abortion clinics. If you believe in life, why would you take a life?"
Another change Aloha Life is undergoing is appealing to young people to pick up the cause's banner, he said. Last year's rally, which drew about 1,000 people, reflected its change of focus, as will tomorrow's event. A keiki poster contest involving students at all schools, games and activities, hula, live music and educational displays will culminate in a peaceful walk around the Capitol.
The organization is trying to get more young people involved because "my generation of aging baby boomers is dying off, and there's no one to replace them," he said.
With social mores changing, and especially with traditional marriage, "we're re-emphasizing what marriage and family are all about," Borja added.
The rally will be peaceful, and people of all faiths are welcome, said Borja.
Colette Machado, chairwoman of the Board of Trustees for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, will deliver a welcoming message of aloha, he said.
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Editor's note: Colette Machado has chosen to participate in March For Life Hawaii as a private citizen and not in an official capacity on behalf of any organization or group. Also, if you appreciate this article from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, please let them know by contacting the editor at email@example.com