Last Thursday, as I boarded the bus that would take us to Washington, D.C., and the March for Life, several questions percolated through my brain. First and foremost were my anxious concerns about how effective my motion-sickness medicine would be on the 10 hour trip (It worked. Yay!).
More importantly, however, I wondered what the atmosphere would be like at the first March in the post-Roe era. Would there be more dissent? More protests? The marches I attended in the past were extraordinarily peaceful. How would this one differ?
I was also curious about the direction in which the pro-life cause would move. With the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the focus had to shift. Perhaps I was being cynical, but I dearly hoped that the atmosphere would not be that of a mere celebration of our “win.” Ending abortion is essential, and certainly the overturning of Roe v. Wade is deserving of celebration, but boasting of our “win” without a forward-thinking plan would be an abdication of our responsibility to forge a culture of life.
The reality of abortion is so horrific, it is easy to get stalled in that place of disdain: “What kind of mother could do that to her own child?” With a few exceptions, the answer to that question is, a desperate mother. A woman who has few resources and little to no support, who sees no other way out. She is most likely panic-stricken, despairing, and terrified. I will never forget the gut-wrenching words a hurting mother shared with me many years after her abortion. Through her sobs, she managed to say: “If I had had one person, just one, who would have supported me, who would have encouraged me not to go through with it, I wouldn’t have had the abortion.” Her words have echoed in my mind through the years since I first heard them, and I have repeatedly asked myself, what can I do to help women like her?
Fortunately, this is where the post-Roe pro-life movement has shifted its focus. In fact, the theme for this year’s March was “Next Steps.” Of course, there is more legislative work to do on the state level to eradicate abortion, but as Jeanne Mancini, the President of the March for Life said, “... another element of the path forward for the pro-life movement is to “strengthen the safety net for women when they are facing an unexpected pregnancy,” and "to support them so well that abortion becomes unthinkable."
The pro-life movement has always been about love and caring for women and their babies. This is not new. But, I experienced a fresh new perspective for the movement in the words of the speakers. A perspective that has at its foundation a fundamental respect for the God-given dignity of the human person, in all its forms: born, unborn, rich, poor, healthy, unhealthy, male or female. The importance of the fathers in the lives of their children was highlighted. It was a broad, beautiful message and delivered an empowering momentum for the culture of life.
Keynote speaker, Jonathan Roumie, the actor who plays Jesus on the series, “The Chosen,” shared a message that was genuine, delivered with an authenticity that heightened its impact. In a true spirit of respecting the dignity of all life, he cautioned the young people about dark and “demonic” influences in the entertainment industry, in particular, that work against the culture of life and endanger the souls of our youth. His was yet another layer to the message of love, life, and dignity.
I am thrilled that our students were able to have the experience of participating in the (yes, peaceful!) March for Life. One student was particularly excited about exercising her First Amendment right of peaceful assembly, which she is learning about in her American Government and Politics class at Mount Royal. They were also impressed with the numbers of people attending the March, united for the pro-life cause – perhaps we’re not the minority the media portrays us, after all? Attending Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception was a gift to all of us, and students marveled at the beauty and intricacy of the ubiquitous mosaics.
In all, despite the long bus ride, and lack of showers, participating in the March for Life blessed all who attended, and, I believe, solidified the conviction in all our hearts that human life in all its forms is good, worthy of respect, and worth fighting for.
I’ll close with more words from Jonathan Roumie: “For the majority of believers, God is love. And true love gives way to life, not death.”
He also added: “Pray the Rosary!” It always bears repeating!
- Mrs. Lisa Sweet, Academic Dean