The paradoxical beauty of the March for Life is that the older it becomes, the younger and more energized it gets. The 2015 March, marking the 42nd anniversary since the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion, was no different. In Washington, D.C., crowds, made up predominantly of high school and college-age students, swelled into the hundreds of thousands for the walk down Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court. Around the country, efforts have grown by leaps and bounds to expand the March regionally into other cities, and this year more than 100 such events took place from the Northeast to the Southwest, and everywhere in-between.
Such efforts are both inspiring and hopeful — evidence of the persistence and the momentum in the pro-life movement.
The downside, though, is that you’d never know it. In the midst of all this energy, one thing has remained static: the appalling lack of coverage of pro-life efforts in the mainstream news.
No other civil rights movement can boast such a remarkable persistence and yet simultaneously such a dismal amount of media attention.
In 2009, the founder of the March, the late Nellie Gray, lamented that fact, saying, “What we usually end up with is a story with a tiny little comment from one individual marcher.”
It’s more than ironic. No other civil rights movement can boast such a remarkable persistence and yet simultaneously such a dismal amount of media attention. What’s more, when the rare story is published, it is without fail accompanied by a photo of a handful of counter-demonstrators waving “Keep Abortion Legal” signs. This year, one photo essay included four shots alone of pro-abortion supporters being arrested for interference.
The moral of the story? Violence sells — as long as it’s ex utero.
This year, the prevailing headline throughout the March for Life media cycle was “Deflategate,” the allegation that the New England Patriots may have stacked the deck by deflating 11 footballs prior to locking up its spot in this year’s Super Bowl. The story dominated cable and network news for days, providing yet another reason to overlook the fact that 58 million children have lost their lives to abortion in the United States since Roe. As marches continue to gain momentum outside of the nation’s capital, the blind spot of the big-name media conglomerates becomes even more glaring — especially as those same conglomerates manage to hang on every word of Pope Francis’ more colorful metaphors.
But there is some good news. First, in these days of social media, refusing to cover an issue doesn’t wield the power that it used to. The hash tag #MediaBlackoutGate took off the weekend after the March in response to the dearth of press coverage. Social media coverage of the March, too, was dominant, as marchers and supporters propelled the hashtags #WhyWeMarch and #ProLifeVoices into the “trending” category. Such efforts have helped the younger generation find its collective pro-life voice, and much of this success is due to the improved technological efforts of March for Life organizers.
New numbers, too, suggest that pro-lifers won’t able to remain silenced for long. A Knights of Columbus-Marist poll conducted in early January revealed that 84 percent of Americans — including nearly seven out of 10 who self-identify as “pro-choice” — want “significant restrictions on abortion.” Nearly 60 percent believe that abortion is “morally wrong.”
Momentum is picking up. The tide is turning. With or without the media, now is the time to make our voices heard.
Editorial Board: Greg Erlandson, publisher; Msgr. Owen F. Campion, associate publisher; Beth McNamara, editorial director; Gretchen R. Crowe, editor