An Innovative Approach to the Right to Life

By M.A Student, Jair Peltier

Last week I crossed a line off of my bucket list; to attend the March for Life in Washington, D.C. Growing up in Bottineau, North Dakota, our local chapter of Right to Life often held presentations and heavily advertised the March for Life every year. It was something I always had in mind as the years went on, but for some reason or another, I never got the timing right. This year, however, I finally had my opportunity to bear witness to the largest gathering of pro-life folks in the country. Three things struck me in particular: the dedication, the innovation, and the profound silence of the media. 

First of all, it was cold, even for D.C. weather. When I woke up that morning, there were already plenty of cancellations of festivities and words of caution due to the snow. I seriously considered staying in that day, but I knew this was my one chance of going anytime soon. My train was leaving figuratively and quite literally. I caught the metro and headed toward downtown. As I approached Fort Totten station, the train was noticeably empty. It was me and a few other riders, much less than usual. But then, we came upon the Brookland/CUA station, and the train filled up to capacity in about ten seconds. That’s when I knew I made the right decision. I met with Professor Saunders, Father Ambrose, and his Carmelite brothers. The fact that I was able to find anyone was surprising in such an immense crowd, but I’m grateful for being able to find and march with my friends. As I looked out across the crowds at the National Mall, I was amazed at the dedication of the people present. Despite the cold, snow, and ice, people marched for something that they believed in, they marched for the most vulnerable among us, the unborn.

I was particularly impressed by the innovation in the approach to the march this year. In the past, the march’s main purpose was to protest the Roe v. Wade decision that upheld abortion rights in the United States. Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, the march had to change focus from the Supreme Court to Congress. As many of the speakers at the rally mentioned, the main goal of the march is no longer simply to overturn Roe v Wade but to make abortion unthinkable. As we passed the various congressional office buildings, it really dawned on me that it really is on Congress to protect life in this post-Roe world. Congress needs to make laws that enable women to choose life, not make it harder. The only effective way to end abortion is to support women in all walks of life. Changing the focus and the literal march route, I was impressed by the innovation of the march to remain relevant and focused after their greatest victory. 

The last thing that really hit me with my March for Life experience was the media blackout of the whole thing. Now I’m aware that it is the presidential election season, and there are plenty of other newsworthy events happening across the country. But the fact that 100,000 people peacefully marching in the nation’s capital is not even mentioned is shocking. It feels as though the March for Life has become so routine that people don’t want to give it too much credit. But what’s new is the change in rhetoric; pro-lifers are increasingly being labeled as “anti-abortion.” I think it’s clear that there is a media bias against the pro-life movement generally, but it is becoming more pointed in post-Roe America. Based on the media, you’d never piece together that the pro-life movement won a tremendous victory abolishing Roe v Wade. They were never meant to be the victors in their narrative. 

Overall, I really enjoyed braving the snow and the cold to march with faithful people who believe in the preservation of fundamental human rights, the right to life. The dedication of these people demonstrates stern conviction and an earnestness that is refreshing in public discourse.

The ability to adapt the message to a broader sense of mission is also welcome at a time when nuance is important, and their relevance is being doubted. While the general media is lacking in support, it truly feels that the broader grassroots movement extends far beyond the limitations of media naysayers. The movement is broader and more alive than ever before. Post-Roe, the future is bright for the rights of the unborn.