Today, January 20, marks the 50th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., and the first ever since the Supreme Court’s egregious 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade was overturned. Our peaceful movement has grown into the largest annual human rights demonstration in the entire world, and a collective millions of people have gathered over these past five decades at the march for one common purpose: ending the tragedy of abortion and restoring a culture of life.
Last June, we joyously celebrated the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. This monumental victory that ended Roe was thanks in no small part to scientific and medical advances since 1973, which have increasingly won converts to our cause by revealing the humanity of children developing in the womb. Public opinion now overwhelmingly sides with our movement in supporting commonsense protections for the unborn.
The Dobbs victory was also a testament to our persevering witness. Shortly after Roe was decided, many expected our movement and our march to fizzle out. Too few people understood what abortion entailed, and that lack of understanding about unborn life had the potential to turn many lukewarm on the issue.
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But instead of fizzling, we grew. For the past 50 years in our nation’s capital, we have proudly led millions of pro-life advocates past congressional offices and the Supreme Court, sending a powerful message to our leaders: we are not going away until our nation welcomes and protects each innocent human life conceived.
Over the years we have added many new – and some surprising – faces to our ranks: former pro-choice activists who testified about the scars abortion left on them. Members of Congress from both parties, the former vice president, and even the former president of the United States have all recognized by their presence and words at the March for Life rally the importance of our cause.
I hope that for them the view from the podium was as unforgettable as it always is to me – a sea of youthful, exuberant faces, bundled up against the bitter cold, yet exuding enough life and encouragement to fire up even the coldest heart with compassion for the voiceless unborn.
There are still so many hearts to reach.
At this moment, radical efforts from the left threaten to undo an entire half-century of progress. Pro-abortion forces have ruthlessly exploited the Dobbs decision to ignite panic and fear among Americans, hoping to capture public support for federal legislation that would enshrine abortion policy even more extreme than that under Roe.
These proposals would legalize painful abortion on demand, up until birth and paid for by taxpayers, despite the science showing that the unborn have heartbeats at six weeks and can feel pain as early as 15 weeks.
They advocate relentlessly for such heartless measures even though U.S. abortion policy under Roe made us a global outlier, and despite the fact that nearly every single European country limits abortion to 15 weeks or earlier.
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Confronted with the left's regressive abortion proposals, the March for Life has a clear duty now more than ever to continue marching in Washington and equipping Americans with the truth about life and abortion.
We ought to take heart in the fact that the more Americans learn about abortion, the more they support commonsense limits. Why? Because Americans recognize that no humane or just society should tolerate the mass extinction of innocent human beings whose only crime consists in being too inconvenient to deserve a chance at life.
The famous abolitionist William Wilberforce is credited with saying, "You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know." These words aptly sum up one of the March for Life’s greatest strengths – our persistent witness, education and advocacy for the unborn have made it impossible for our nation and its leaders to simply "look the other way" or feign ignorance about the harsh reality of abortion and the beauty of life.
But as we enter this new post-Roe era, we know our mission is far from finished. Now is the time to reflect with gratitude upon all we’ve accomplished these past 50 years, but it is also the time to fix our gaze forward, pressing on towards the battles that lie ahead.