The March for Life

Thousands, probably tens of thousands, came from all over the country to bear witness to the continuing atrocity of the U.S. abortion regime. They were mostly young and mostly female. Their presence and the message they carried spoke truth to the lie that is routinely propagated by the abortion industry. Which is to pretend that abortion is something other than what it really is: the deliberate killing of defenseless human beings. 

Early on the marchers began to assemble on the national mall near the Washington Monument carrying placards identifying where they came from and their message. One sign read “I’m from the Pro-Life Generation”. Another read “It’s a Child, not a Choice”. Other signs had slogans like “Women Deserve better than Abortion” and “Pro-Women, Pro-Health, Pro-Life”, and “I Vote Pro-Life First”. They were slogans, but they were slogans that spoke truth. They are truths that bear repeating over and over because language matters in framing the debate.

Washington DC, USA — March 24, 2020. A Park Police Officer directs traffic at the annual March for Life in Washington, DC.
Washington DC, USA — March 24, 2020. Pro LIfe Marchers on the Mall for the annual March for Life.

The abortion industry rarely talks about abortion, at least in public, preferring to rely on euphemisms that mischaracterize what is really going on. They like to refer to “reproductive health” as if aborting an unborn child has anything at all to do with a woman’s health. The truth of the matter is that when it comes to abortion, what is at issue is the meaning of the term “medically indicated”. The term “medically indicated” has been used to refer to situations in which the unborn child has Down’s Syndrome, which is hardly a threat to a mother’s life or health. But there may be cases in which an unborn child is threatened by a medical treatment given to the mother, for instance, some cancer treatments. But the point is to treat the mother, not to kill the child, which could happen as a result of the treatment. And in any case it is an unborn child, not a mere clump of cells as the abortion industry would have it. 

Partly because of the work of Pro-Life groups, rates of abortion in the United States have been falling rapidly. According to the Guttmacher Institute 862,329 abortions were performed in 2017, down 7% from the 926,190 abortions performed in 2014. The abortion rate for women aged 15-44 in 2017 was 13.5%, the lowest rate observed in the United States since abortion was legalized in 1973 by Roe v. Wade. In that year the rate was 16.3%.

Washington DC, USA — March 24, 2020. Young women gather with placards for the annual March for Life rally in Washington, DC.

But while overall abortion rates have declined, abortion has become increasingly concentrated among poor women. According to the Guttmacher Institute poor women had an abortion rate of 36.6 per 1,000  women of reproductive age, and accounted 49% of patients in 2014. (See this link). It is hard to look at those statistics without thinking of Ruth Bader Ginsburg who in 1980 let the veil slip on this particular subject when she said:

“Frankly, I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding of abortion.” (See this link to the Ethics and Public Policy Center).

All of which points to the underlying problem, which is that the current culture regards some people as not being fully human and therefore worthy of legal protections. Which is why unborn babies are routinely referred to with clinical terminology. They are fetuses, not people. Unborn children with Down’s Syndrome are terminated, not killed. After all, they are imperfect and inconvenient. As if we all are not imperfect and flawed. 

Washington DC, USA — March 24, 2020. A woman stands in the street holding a sign protesting abortion at the annual March for life rally in Washington, DC.

The Pro-Life movement has been extraordinarily successful in changing the terms of the debate so as to focus it on the fact that the these are children, as yet to be born, but children nonetheless. In so doing the Pro-Life movement has accepted the long hard work of changing the culture so that over time it will embrace life and dignity each and every individual person as a unique and uniquely valuable human being. Let this work continue. 

Washington DC, USA — March 24, 2020. People walk past the Department of Commerce Building as they head for the annual March for Life Rally in Washington, DC.

JFB

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Joe Benning