AMAC Exclusive – By Seamus Brennan
Just three weeks into what could prove to be the single most consequential year for the pro-life movement since Roe v. Wade, tens of thousands of Americans are expected to descend upon the National Mall for the largest annual pro-life event in the country.
Today, the March for Life will return to Washington, D.C. for the 49th time. The March, which was inaugurated in January 1974 on the first anniversary of the Roe decision, has attracted hundreds of thousands of pro-life activists each year from all across the country to gather on the National Mall for a rally and then march to the steps of the Supreme Court. This year will mark the first in-person March for Life since 2020, as the event was moved to a virtual format in 2021 largely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rally and March will be followed by a dinner gala.
“The right to life is a human right. Our defense of that right is a joyful witness to the beauty and dignity of every human person,” the event’s website states. “We celebrate each and every life, from the moment of conception. We envision a world where every life is celebrated, valued, and protected.”
The theme for this year’s March, according to event organizers, is “Equality Begins in the Womb”—reflecting the notion that the inherent rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as envisioned by our nation’s Founders have not yet been fully afforded to children in their mothers’ wombs. “As our country continues to advance along the path to a more just society, we cannot ignore the discrimination that is taking place against vulnerable unborn babies who some view as ‘less than’ others,” the event’s president, Jeanne Mancini, wrote. “In order to create a more just society, we must recognize that equality begins in the womb.”
Father Mike Schmitz, a Catholic priest and popular author and podcaster, is slated to be the dinner gala’s keynote speaker and is also scheduled to speak at the rally. Additional speakers at the March will include several Members of Congress, Down Syndrome advocate Katie Shaw, Duck Dynasty star Lisa Robertson, actor Kirk Cameron, and “other prominent pro-life leaders whose stories will inspire marchers to build a culture of life.”
At the last in-person march in 2020, former President Donald J. Trump became the first president to attend the March for Life, where he delivered a rousing speech, touted his pro-life accomplishments, and committed to protecting unborn life and resisting Congressional Democrats’ radical pro-abortion policies. During his four years in office, Trump’s agenda to defend the lives of the unborn ranged from reinstating the Mexico City policy, to cutting U.S. funding to the United Nations population fund, and protecting the conscience rights of religious groups like the Catholic Little Sisters of the Poor, who were legally required to violate their religious precepts under certain provisions of the Obamacare law. “Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House,” Trump said in his remarks.
Now, given the clear possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court may be prepared to revisit controversial decisions like Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey—which have cumulatively recognized and upheld an expansive legal right to abortion since 1973—Trump’s appointment of three constitutionalist judges to the Supreme Court could prove pivotal in the High Court’s decisions on abortion later this term. Trump’s appointees—Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett—are likely to provide the deciding votes in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the most significant challenge to abortion rights in decades, for which a decision is expected by this June.
The possibility of a significant change to abortion precedent has led pro-life activists to wonder whether this year’s March for Life will be the last where decisions like Roe and Casey still threaten unborn lives. “We’ve always been looking to have Roe overturned, and this year we’re actually looking at that being a real immediate possibility. So that definitely takes the symbolism of the March to another level,” Terrisa Bukovinac, the founder and executive director at Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, a D.C.-based nonprofit, said to the National Catholic Reporter.
Mancini echoed that sentiment: “We are hopeful that, with Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization before the Supreme Court, 2022 will bring us much closer to building the culture of life we have all marched for since Roe v. Wade was tragically imposed on our nation nearly 50 years ago.”
Over the last year, it has become strikingly clear not only that the pro-life movement is in a historically strong and encouraging position, but also that this year’s March for Life will be unlike any other in recent past.
The pro-life movement is on the verge of what could be the largest pro-life victory in American history. As such, it is all but certain that as tens of thousands of pro-life marchers once again venture to Washington during a cold week in January, they will have—this year in particular—an extra spring in their step.
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