Each January, the March for Life provides a tremendous opportunity for the pro-life community to come together near the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in 1973. The march gives a much-needed voice to the nearly 1 million children who are aborted each year in the U.S. alone. In the 44 years the March for Life has taken place, the messaging of the pro-life movement has changed from one heavily reliant on graphic and shocking abortion-related imagery and shame to one that is more loving, understanding and compassionate toward mothers in crisis pregnancy situations as well as their babies. This expanded focus has served the pro-life movement well by adding credibility to its main goal of upholding the dignity of all. Another such opportunity now stands before the pro-life movement, in part due to the first Women’s March on Jan. 21.
The Women’s March, which took place in Washington, D.C., and other metropolises around the world, was largely a protest against the person and the policies of newly inaugurated President Donald Trump, particularly where respect for women and “reproductive rights” are concerned. Despite their so-called “inclusive” principles, Women’s March organizers made their pro-abortion views so integral to participating in the event that they refused to accept pro-life feminist groups as official partners. This highly unfortunate decision, which no doubt was due to the fact that Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America were two of the event’s main sponsors, ostracized pro-life women from the event. It also turned an event that could have been branded positively into an amalgamation of vulgar signs, graphic speeches and, at times, vile behavior — ironically, much of the same behavior against which the protesters were protesting.
What is even more unfortunate about the Women’s March and its irrevocable partnership with the abortion lobby is that “reproductive rights” weren’t its only core values. Many of its so-called “unity principles” were those that many pro-life women would want to support, including ending violence against women; working for rights for immigrants and refugees; the right for women to have access to equal pay, affordable childcare, paid family leave, health care and healthy work environments; and the upholding of the country’s civil rights, which include, ironically, the freedom to worship without fear.
But from the narrowness of the Women’s March organizers comes the pro-life movement’s opportunity. While the main focus of the March for Life must always remain overturning Roe v. Wade — for without the right to life, all other rights become impossible — perhaps the March for Life could begin to more robustly advocate for additional issues that contribute to basic human dignity. For example, in addition to protesting abortion, could we protest euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide? Could we advocate for the dignity found in the poor, the immigrant and the refugee? Could we stand up for the right for access to health care and life-giving and sustaining benefits for all? Could we work together for a world where the actions of the wealthy in the first world don’t negatively impact the lives of those in the third world, as they do in many of the world’s current environmental policies?
Rather than cede the moral high ground on certain issues to a Women’s March that casts aside the most basic right of life, the pro-life movement should seize the opportunity to remind the world that there is a better choice: to celebrate the dignity of the person all the way through life, from conception until natural death.
Editorial Board: Greg Willits, editorial director; Gretchen R. Crowe, editor-in-chief; Don Clemmer, managing editor