By M.A Student, Fr. Ambrose Ekeroku, OCD
The interaction between Jeanne Mancini, President of March for Life, and the MA Human Rights Students, led by Prof. William Saunders, during their visit to the March for Life office on the 29th of November, 2023 was enlightening and provided valuable insights into the pro-life movement. The discussion covered various aspects, including the history of the March for Life, the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade, and the broader mission of building a culture of life. Here’s a reflection on the key points:
Founded by Nellie Gray, over half a century ago, the March for Life has evolved into a powerful movement under the leadership of its current President, Jeanne Mancini, and her team. Nellie Gray’s dedication to the cause, even in her later years, was highlighted, emphasizing the continuity of the movement across generations. Her role as the founder, who ran the March for Life until her passing, adds a historical perspective, showcasing the enduring commitment that laid the foundation for the movement’s continued growth.
The March for Life is depicted as a collective effort, emphasizing the significant impact of the millions of people who have participated in the March over the years. Jeanne Mancini attributes the success of the movement to the dedication and collective action of individuals who march past the Supreme Court, and more recently, across different states and cities in the US symbolizing their commitment to the pro-life cause.
The overturning of Roe v. Wade is positioned as a pivotal moment, marking the beginning of a new season for the pro-life movement. This historical event is seen as a catalyst for change, but Jeanne Mancini emphasizes that the work is far from over. The comparison to other landmark cases, such as Plessy v. Ferguson and Loving v. Virginia, underscores the understanding that cultural change is a gradual process.
The March for Life has featured a diverse range of speakers over the years, each contributing to the pro-life cause. Some notable speakers include Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe): The woman at the center of the Roe v. Wade case who later became an advocate for the pro-life movement. Bernard Nathanson: A former abortion provider turned pro-life activist, he played a key role in the production of “The Silent Scream,” a documentary about abortion. Abby Johnson: Former Planned Parenthood director turned pro-life advocate, sharing her personal story and experiences with the abortion industry. Donald Trump: The 45th President of the United States, he made history by becoming the first sitting president to address the March for Life in person in 2020. Various Post-Roe Activists: Individuals who have experienced personal transformations regarding abortion, share their stories to underscore the complexity of the issue.
Personal narratives play a crucial role in the pro-life movement. The stories of individuals like Norma McCorvey and Bernard Nathanson, who experienced a change of heart on the issue of abortion, add a human dimension to the movement. These narratives challenge preconceived notions and highlight the possibility of transformation, contributing to a nuanced understanding of the complexities surrounding abortion.
The ultimate goal of the pro-life movement, as articulated by Mancini, extends beyond legal changes. While celebrating the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the focus is on building a culture of life, addressing societal perceptions, and fostering empathy and understanding.
The dual structure of March for Life, with its 501c3 and 501c4 arms, reflects a comprehensive approach to advocacy and education. Uniting, equipping, and mobilizing individuals in the public square, combined with strategic advocacy efforts, creates a multifaceted approach to advancing the pro-life cause.
Mancini’s presentation to the visiting MAHR students also touches upon the broader context of abortion in the United States, acknowledging the complexity of the issue. The inclusion of statistics provides a quantitative understanding of the prevalence of legally induced abortions, emphasizing the importance of informed discussions and policy considerations.
While the March for Life originated in Washington, D.C., it has inspired similar events in various states across the U.S. These state-level marches aim to mobilize local communities in support of the pro-life cause. Many of them occur around the same time as the national March for Life and serve as regional expressions of the broader movement.
Internationally, the March for Life concept has influenced similar events in other countries. Pro-life advocates worldwide have organized marches and demonstrations to raise awareness about the sanctity of life and advocate for legal protections for the unborn. These events often align with the principles and goals of the March for Life in the United States, creating a global network of pro-life activism.
The impact of the March for Life extends beyond national borders, contributing to a broader conversation about the value of human life and the need for legal and cultural changes to protect the unborn. While the primary focus remains on the U.S., the pro-life movement’s influence has resonated globally, inspiring like-minded individuals and organizations to stand up for the rights of the unborn in their respective countries.
In summary, the visit to the March for Life office offers a deeper understanding of the pro-life movement, its history, recent developments, and the ongoing challenges and goals. The emphasis on collective action, personal narratives, and the long-term vision of building a culture of life provides a nuanced perspective on this complex and debated societal issue.