On January 24th hundreds of thousands of pro-life activists will gather in Washington for the annual March for Life. Last year organizers estimated that close to 400 thousand people braved the cold to head to the nation’s capital to be a voice for the voiceless. This mammoth event has been going on since abortion on demand became the law of the land in the United States following the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.
I cover the March each year for Catholic radio and Catholic television through EWTN. I have often referred to the March as the “Shuffle for Life.” There are simply so many people making their way past the U.S. Supreme Court that it is impossible to “march”. We all just sort of shuffle slowly but joyfully on our way. It is an amazing sight to behold and a blessing to be a part of a movement that is obviously so vibrant and so young with a good portion of the participants of college and high school age.
And that’s the strange thing about the March for Life; this dichotomy of it being such a bitter but sweet event. Having attended and covered the event for several years now, I can say that I have never seen a sad or bitter attendee. The speakers who address the rally on the Washington Mall each year are determined in their messages as they proclaim their re-commitment to the pro-life cause. The women and men of the Silent No More Awareness campaign who give their testimonies at the rally before the March and in front of the Supreme Court at the end of the day, do express remorse for their decision. But, their final words are always words of forgiveness, healing, and encouragement for all those fighting the good fight. And then there are the throngs of young people who sing, pray, and chant as they make their way through the streets of Washington. It gives you a sense of hope for the future of the movement.
Some might wonder why pro-lifers can be so joyous and hopeful when marking such a tragic decision. The legalization of abortion in this country still leads to some one million abortions annually. We still face an uphill battle in the courts where even if the Supreme Court decision were overturned in our lifetime the battle would continue in the state courts. The pro-abortion politicians and spokespersons still have the secular media and Hollywood behind them. Despite its size, the March for Life is routinely ignored by the major news outlets. If it is covered at all, it’s banished to the back pages, or not accurately reported. If you did happen to catch a brief TV news report on the March you will most likely hear the newscasters say “both sides in the abortion debate gathered in Washington today.” Technically both sides do show up. But that is hardly an accurate description when you have hundreds of thousands of pro-lifers verses maybe a few dozen representing Planned Parenthood or other pro-abortion groups.
So why are pro-lifers smiling? In my humble opinion, it is knowing that we are doing the right thing. Abortion is the civil rights issue of our day. The truth, as John Paul the Second says, does not change. Or as Archbishop Fulton Sheen once stated; a lie is still a lie even if every one believes it and the truth is still the truth even if no one believes it.” We keep gathering in Washington. We keep praying. We keep fighting for life from womb to tomb. Yes the March for Life is a bitter sweet event when we realize what we are commemorating. The truth of the pro-life cause, however, does not rest in the Supreme Court, Washington politicians, or the news media. It is based on the truth of the dignity of each human person. Speaking up for those who can’t speak for themselves as it says is Proverbs 31:8 is when you come right down to it, the right thing to do: Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, For the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; Defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Hope to see you in Washington. In the meantime, onward Christian soldiers.