“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
When it comes to the evil of abortion, indifference and remaining on the side lines is unacceptable. Among the numerous moral issues plaguing cultures, particularly in the West, there is no greater violence than abortion. This assault on human life is a human issue that involves everyone.
Two weeks ago, I proposed six New Year’s resolutions that you might consider making in order to do even more to fight abortion and other attacks on human life in 2018. Today, I would like to add a seventh: Make the sacrifices necessary to attend the upcoming March for Life in Washington, D.C., or one of the many local pro-life marches.
If you have never been to the March in Washington, I recommend that you do whatever it takes to make it at least once, even if you live a very long distance away. Chances are, you’ve never experienced anything like it before: Many tens of thousands of young, energetic, committed pro-life activists, marching through the streets to the footsteps of the same Supreme Court that imposed abortion on our nation, demanding that human life be protected from conception.
The theme for this year’s march is, “Love Saves Lives.” Among the speakers will be Pat Tebow, the mother of football and baseball player Tim Tebow, as well as former NFL player Matt Birk. This year, the local Washington Catholic Church has also announced the availability of a plenary indulgence for Catholics who attend the March!
Why the March for Life is so Important
Sometimes, people ask why attending the March is so important. Wouldn’t it be better to put the resources into doing something concrete to end abortion in our local communities? I’ve even been surprised at times to hear some pro-lifers dismissing the March for Life as a waste of time and resources, a “mere” demonstration that has had little impact, since abortion is still legal in the U.S.
Rubbish! In reality, the March for Life is a huge reason why the pro-life movement even exists today, and why there remains any hope at all of overturning Roe v. Wade.
To begin with, the March for Life is the largest annual demonstration in Washington! For congressmen on the day of the March, it’s impossible to forget that there are hundreds of thousands of committed demonstrators on the Mall, whose goal is to completely outlaw abortion. For all those aging pro-abort feminists who were firmly convinced that abortion would be a “settled” issue long ago, the March for Life is a powerful reminder that the issue is far from settled, and that pro-lifers aren’t going anywhere. If anything, we’re getting more numerous, more determined, more organized, and younger!
In 2010, outgoing NARAL President Nancy Keenan described her horror upon coming out of the Washington Metro and stumbling on the March for Life. “I just thought, my gosh, they are so young,” Keenan said. “There are so many of them, and they are so young.” What an incredible testament to the power of the March!
It’s true that at times the potential impact of the March is muted due to the media’s determination to act as if it doesn’t exist – but sometimes they can’t help but pay attention! Like last year, when Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the March. Thanks to the new administration’s involvement, the March received an enormous amount of media attention, with news organizations like the New York Times and Buzzfeed even streaming the event live to their millions of social media followers! Imagine if pro-lifers had simply “given up” on the March and stayed home, because, well, abortion is still legal, so what’s the point? Instead, we sent a message to the whole world that we’re willing to do whatever it takes – including spending hours standing and marching through frigid January weather – to protect innocent human life.
But perhaps the most overlooked, but most vital purpose of the March for Life is to serve as a tool for inspiration and education.
Every year, tens of thousands of youth are bused in from dioceses, schools and colleges across the nation. Many of them come from pro-life, or religious families, and already count themselves “pro-life,” but have never have given much thought to the issue. Many of them feel isolated in their schools and amongst their peers, and are more inclined to stay silent than to speak up when the issue arises. Then they come to the March. They attend the March for Life youth rally, and perhaps the Students for Life conference. They hear compelling speakers who expose the full horror of abortion, and provide practical tools to make a real difference back home. They meet thousands of others who share their beliefs. Then they go home, fired up, energized, inspired. Many of the most successful pro-life leaders were first inspired to get involved in the pro-life movement after attending the March for Life.
March against ALL Attacks on Human Life
For me, personally, the March for Life is also about more than standing against abortion. It is a march against every assault against Life.
That includes the contraceptive mentality which I (and HLI) view as a root cause of abortion, since it isolates and separates the procreative and unitive dimensions of conjugal love between husband and wife – the only place where the sexual gift is to be expressed. We will never be free from the violence of abortion until we annihilate contraception – the original violence. So-called “free sex” has plunged us into moral decay, numbed our conscience, demoralized our understanding of the human person, marriage and family life, and has created a sex-saturated culture that accepts nearly every abomination.
Another issue that breaks my heart is that of human trafficking, which is also in part linked to the breakdown of sexual morality created by the sexual revolution and the contraceptive mentality. Most Americans are oblivious to this violence. But a great majority of young people pictured in pornographic films are trafficked. There is also a growing market for sex-trade, with women and children trafficked from impoverished communities to service the distorted sexual appetites of Americans in our cities. In fact, the day after the March for Life, I will be MCing a symposium put on by the Orlando diocese about fighting human trafficking.
The March for Life organizers are exactly right, love does save lives. Our distorted modern conception of love treats love as a fleeting emotion, something to be enjoyed as long as it lasts, and discarded the moment the feelings die. However, we know that love is something far deeper than an emotion: at root, it is the willingness to sacrifice ourselves for the authentic good of another. Standing outside for hours in the frigid D.C. weather in January may not sound like a whole lot of fun. But there’s something about standing shoulder-to-shoulder with tens of thousands of others committed to ending child-killing, and proclaiming our cause to the world, that will lights a fire inside you.
However, the March for Life skeptics do also have a point. If all you do is attend the March, then you’ve rejected the purpose of the March. The March is only a beginning! As pro-life leader Lila Rose eloquently put it a few years ago:
If you’re here, that’s fantastic — but we need you tomorrow; we need you the next day; we need you on Sundays at your church; we need you at your schools standing up for life; we need you voting for life; we need you encouraging and working with your friends to make sure they’re not having abortions; helping them stand up for chastity; helping them stand up for sexual integrity, understanding of their own sexuality; standing up for holy purity. We need you speaking out the truth whenever you have an opportunity — activism on your campus; passing out [literature]; doing displays or having speakers come or hosting debates — anything. There’s so many ways to get involved. We need you every day, not just today.
This year, make the commitment: Join the March for Life, and then return home with a renewed commitment to do more in your communities to end abortion. Hopefully, I’ll see you there!