On Monday, January 23rd, the annual March for Life took place on the National Mall in Washington D.C. to mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I observed the March for Life in person in 2011 (see here and here), although the Gilead budget prevented me from doing the same this year. C-SPAN posted a video of the March for Life rally, which can be viewed here.
On stage, gospel group Sounds of Liberty crooned to the rally's massive crowd, which was dotted with signs celebrating the sanctity of life and urging the defunding of Planned Parenthood. A joint opening prayer between Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox religious leaders featured Metropolitan Jonah, primate of the Orthodox Church. In his benediction, Metropolitan Jonah spoke of abortion as something cloaked in "despair and hopelessness" at the 29.37 mark.
"Remember not our negligence and sin. Remember not our failure to be doers of the word, and not hearers only. Remember not our hypocrisy, external zeal matched only with practical inaction to assist those who fall prey to the despair and hopelessness of abortion."After the opening prayer, March for Life president Nellie Gray addressed the crowd, asserting that the right to life as understood by the anti-abortion movement is embedded in America's founding documents. At the 34:47 mark, she had this to say.
"We want to make certain that we remind our officials that this is not something unusual for America. Our founding documents put in them the right to life endowed by our creator, so that we understand that from the beginning, America was indeed a land understanding a right to life for each human being."At the beginning of her speech, Gray insisted that anti-abortion activists "love the abortionists that we're trying to show and educate that they should not be active in the intentional killing of thousands and thousands of innocent preborn children." However, she later condemned abortion providers at the 35:21 mark, accusing them of deceiving the world so as to strengthen their "industry."
"There's an abortion industry in our country. This industry has begun to build itself, and how does that happen? It begins with their language. They want to deceive the world that what they are doing in the intentional killing of the innocent preborn children is something that is a right, it's a choice. And so with language they have developed unfortunately a killing industry for our country."Following Gray, speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) spoke at the podium. Speaker Boehner, well-known for his anti-abortion stance, spoke of the bipartisan anti-abortion lawmakers in the House of Representatives, who are "working to restore the damage with regard to Roe." At the 49:01 mark, Boehner assured listeners that, "I've never considered being pro-life a label or a political position. It's just who I am. And it's not just that I am pro-life, it's that we as a people are pro-life."
In short, the March for Life started with familiar rhetoric against abortion, painting abortion in hopeless colors, caricaturing abortion providers as ominous deceivers, and justifying anti-abortion activism through references to America's foundational documents. The complexities of abortion, including the causes of unwanted pregnancy and the consequences if it were no longer available, were not the focus of discussion, sadly.
To read part II, click here.
To learn more about the March for Life, visit www[dot]marchforlife[dot]org/. For additional news and commentary, visit the following links.
USA Today: Thousands March on Washington to Protest Roe
Los Angeles Times: John Boehner Touts Antiabortion Efforts at March for Life
RH Reality Check: If They Called It the "March for Forced Motherhood and Female Enslavement," Then Would You Protest?