Five Observations from the March for Life

I had the honor of attending the March for Life this past Friday.  Here are five quick observations about the march:

The resounding message of the March for Life was hope.  While the march is in its 44th year, this year marked the first with a significant Executive Branch presence.  Vice President Pence delivered a compassionate speech, and the crowd roared when he delivered the line “Life is winning again in America.”  Senior White House Advisor Kellyanne Conway spoke sincerely, and revealed that she has marched in previous years.  The President, while not in attendance, tweeted: “The #MarchForLife is so important. To all of you marching – you have my full support!”

The marched felt tremendously supported by the Executive Branch’s participation.  It seemed like the first time in a decade where the pro-life movement started playing offense.

The march’s theme this year was the “Power of One.”  The theme both captured the importance of every human life and the power of one person to positively affect the life of another.  Congresswoman Mia Love gave a tremendous speech juxtaposing the possibilities or life with the regret of abortion, which she called “what might have been.’  The speech is available here.  Many in the crowd made to wipe away quite tears.  It is worth watching.

The March for Life’s focus was love and compassion.  Both at the March for Life and its Expo the previous day, the focus was on how to treat women with generosity and gentleness.  At the Expo, I met with several Pro-Life leaders who minister to women facing unplanned pregnancy.  The kindness and gentleness of two women stood out to me.  The first is Christy Bolling from Embrace Grace.  The organization bills themselves, not as a pro-life organization, but a pro-love group, and seeks to empower women during pregnancy and beyond.  The love and at the booth was palpable.  As part of their pro-love initiative, the group gives beautiful and inspiring gifts to women called Love in a Box.  There website is available here.

The second woman is Lauren Muzyka from Sidewalk Advocates for Life.  The organization offers women choices, to choose adoption or parenting instead of abortion, in a loving and exceptionally gentle manner.  The group matches women with resources for their pregnancies and is a serving and selfless ministry.  Sidewalk Advocates for Life has succeeded in their efforts.  The group knows f 1,554 saves, 391 hopefuls, 209 turnaways, and 38 abortion workers who left for more fulfilling employment due to their efforts.

The tone and messaging of the Vice President’s speech perfectly captured the pro-love heart of the pro-life movement:

But as it is written, “let your gentleness be evident to all.” Let this movement be known for love, not anger – for compassion, not confrontation. When it comes to matters of the heart, there’s nothing stronger than gentleness.

I believe we will continue to win the hearts and the minds of the rising generation if our hearts first break for young mothers and their unborn children and we do all we can to meet them where they are, with generosity, not judgment.

To heal our land and restore a culture of life we must continue to be a movement that embraces all and cares for all out of respect for the dignity and worth of every person.

The full text of the speech is available here.

The majority of the marchers were very young.  In 2012, when the president of the pro-abortion group NARAL quit, she noted that when she observed the hundreds of thousands of young people gathered for the March for Life, “I just thought, my gosh, they are so young.  There are so many of them, and they are so young.”  This is a rare point of agreement I share with NARAL. It is inspiring to see so many young people educated about the reality of abortion and passionate to end the injustice.

The march attracted a vast array of people.  Several groups of priests, nuns, and student groups attended, and there were even Pro-Life Feminists in attendance with purple and multi-colored hair.  There was a group of women called Save the One, which advocates for children conceived in rape.  They were holding signs to punish the rapist, not victimize the baby.  There were LGBT for Life groups.  There was a group of ex-abortion workers whose experience in the industry called them to be pro-life.  There were the testimonies of post-abortive women outside of the U.S. Supreme Court. God truly does cause all things to work together for good. (Rom. 8:28)

While not many counter-protestors attended the march, a report indicates a group of three people, two men and a woman, marched with pro-choice signs.  When the woman saw a picture from the AbortionNO group, who displays the tragic aftermath of abortion, the woman reportedly put down her pro-choice sign.  Another female marcher handed the woman a pro-life sign, and the pro-choice woman became emotional and fellow marchers embraced her.  The pro-choice woman then completed the remainder of the march proudly displaying the pro-life sign.

Finally, I observed an overwhelming, and unifying, sense of peace throughout the march. I heard the peaceful prayers for the unborn, the Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, the beautiful signing of college choirs and more.  No one, though, shouted or demeaned themselves with grotesque costumes, as seen in the shameful Women’s March a week prior.  Instead, those attending the March for Life found prayer, love, peace, and compassion for those in need.