Headlines: The March for Life

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Editor's Note:

Each week, the Christ and Culture podcast features a segment called "Headlines," in which we look at some aspect of the headlines from a Christian perspective. This article is adapted from episode 136.

What is March for Life?

March for Life is the largest pro-life protest and rally. It has been going strong since the unfortunate Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. People come from all around the country and sometimes around the world (I met a couple of folks from Ireland there this year!) and gather together not only to protest abortion but also to speak on behalf of the unborn and to provide support for women and children. It’s a very peaceful and joyful event.

What was the experience like at March for Life?

It was worth going to! The weather was snowy, and I do know several folks who were not able to join because their flights or trains were canceled. So, it might have been a slightly smaller turnout, but the event was full of joy and energy despite the chill and the snow. I think there’s a sober sense among many participants that we have our work cut out for us. That was always true, and it’s in some ways the end of the beginning with the overturning of Roe. So, yeah, plenty more to do.

How many people attended?

It was not tiny! My group waited probably for an hour lined up ready as other folks got ahead of us waiting for the actual march to take place. There were plenty of people there. It’s a diverse, young, and energetic crowd. This year I noticed this all the different voices participating. You have your folks who are motivated by their strong Catholic faith or strong Protestant faith, and sometimes they’re obvious. But there were others who held signs that said something like pro-LGBT and pro-life. Now, obviously, there are tensions in some of those positions, but I was really encouraged as we move the conversation and advocacy forward.

Tell us a little bit about bringing your children to the March for Life.

This year I had the chance to bring my daughter and son. My son is just short of four years old, and my daughter is about two-and-a-half and going on twelve. She is precocious! I kept my explanation simple because they’re still pretty young. I told them that we’re marching because we love babies, and we want to protect them. It was cold. It was hard. It was a bit difficult to get out there  for several hours with babies, but I got a bit of help.

Even though the theme was “every woman for every child,” my interactions with a couple of men actually stood out to me. I was pushing a large stroller up the hill, and I had just started chatting with someone. We had a mutual friend through my previous work on Capitol Hill, and he offered to push the stroller. Usually, I’m like, “I can do it myself,” but I thought, “I’ll take the help.” I also had several other men just watching, ready to help and take up the slack if I needed assistance.

But later, as I was getting ready to find my car and the kids were mercifully both asleep, there was this sense that anything could happen, and it could all fall apart very shortly. I was pushing through a very busy crowd, and a total stranger just looked me dead in the eye and very quickly whispered, “Pro-choice forever.” I didn’t have time to react or be anything except kind of stunned.  He didn’t really need to say that because my signs were on my stroller, which is why he knew I was part of that crowd. But it just hit me that men sometimes don’t know how to be a part of this conversation. It’s really toxic for men to say, “Oh yeah, I’m pro-choice. I’m going to encourage you to choose to abandon your child, and I just won’t be here.” For any of your male listeners who are really unsure what to do, certainly think about your tone and be wise, but know that there’s a place for you in the movement.

We need to continue to do what we've done: praying, pursuing partnerships with local pregnancy centers, and working to reach women through our local churches.

When did going to March for Life become important for you?

I joined my first March when I was a fourth grader. I was living up in New Jersey at the time, so I got on the bus with my parents and my younger siblings. We braved the cold, and I remember chanting, “Adoption not abortion.” I didn’t really know what it all meant at the time, but I knew enough to be there and to be there intelligently.

My advocacy has looked a little different over the years. I haven’t joined the March every year, but God did open the doors for me to work as a Capitol Hill staffer for several years and then also in conservative organizations that advocated for life. I’ve written talking points and speeches for pro-life Congress members. So, I’ve been behind the scenes thinking about the issue, and my commitment hasn’t waned at all this side of motherhood.

I have greater empathy to see how difficult motherhood can be, and part of the reason I took my kids this year is I wanted them to do hard things. I mean it’s maybe laughable, but taking toddlers anywhere is a little bit hard. I want them to see that mom is committed to protecting the vulnerable who can’t speak for themselves, and I want that to become their own advocacy as well.

What do you think the next step will be to address these things in a more local way?

We certainly have our work cut out for us, and it’s disappointing to see how much our neighbors and friends are not quite in agreement. I mean, we have seen some losses on the issues. In some ways, we need to continue to do what we’ve done: praying, pursuing partnerships with local pregnancy centers, and working to reach women through our local churches. In many cases, there are organizations already in place seeking to educate and be available to provide resources.

It’s also important to continue educating our children and any young people under our care. Several national organizations provide details as far as what’s going on at the state level. I won’t list them all, but March for Life has some information about groups like the Family Research Council, Susan B Anthony List, etc. Do your research and look for ways to make sure that your state hears your voice on the issue.

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MA Ethics, Theology, and Culture

The Master of Arts Ethics, Theology, and Culture is a Seminary program providing specialized academic training that prepares men and women to impact the culture for Christ through prophetic moral witness, training in cultural engagement, and service in a variety of settings.

  • abortion
  • Challenges to Humanity
  • culture
  • current events
  • politics
  • pro-life
Jessica Prol Smith

Jessica Prol Smith is a writer with 15 years of Washington, DC experience in public policy and on Capitol Hill (including advocacy for the unborn). Her work has been published in USA Today, The Christian Post, The Washington Times, The Daily Wire, and others. She lives in Cumberland, MD with her family.

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