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Sebastian's Point

Sebastian's Point is a weekly column written by one of our members regarding timely events or analysis of relevant ideas, which impact the Culture of Life. All regular members are invited to submit a column for publication at soss.submissions@gmail.com. Columns should be between 800 to 1300 words and comply with the high standards expected in academic writing, including proper citations of authority or assertions referred to in your column. Please see, Submission Requirements for more details.

The Need for the March for Life

Katie Breckenridge, M.S.

Operations Administrator

Them Before Us  |  21 December 2023

The March for Life is fast approaching for those pro-lifers who make the yearly trek to our nation's capital. The March began in response to the enactment of Roe V. Wade in 1973, and 50 years later, over hundreds of thousands of marchers continually show up to fight for the right to life. These valiant activists, however, are often met with skepticism from fellow pro-lifers who argue against the effectiveness and need for the March for Life. As it was Saint Sebastian’s feast day in the Eastern Orthodox Church on December 18th, let us remember when hearing these naysaying arguments that, as Christians, we are called to be a gathered voice for the persecuted, just as Saint Sebastian gave a voice to persecuted Christians in his own time. We are called to be like Saint Sebastian and “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,” (Proverbs, 31:8) and proclaim to the world that abortion is never something that will be normalized.

So, what are the common arguments from pro-lifers against the March for Life?

“The March is only about stroking our own egos. We're preaching to the choir because no one besides pro-lifers sees it.”

First, the March isn’t simply a march - the March for Life is a leading pro-life organization that encourages visible and vigorous action on many fronts, one being the mobilization of activists[1] to petition Capitol Hill legislators about the bioethical concerns surrounding fetal tissue research, Title X funding, and support for the confirmation of pro-life Supreme Court justices such as Amy Coney Barrett. These petitions have resulted in Planned Parenthood’s losing $60 million in Title X Funding and in halting aborted fetal tissue research funding. March for Life Action has also been involved in educating members of the Supreme Court about Justice Gorsuch’s qualifications as a jurist, producing educational campaigns on topics of concern, and representatives of March for Life Action have participated in hundreds of media interviews. The website also contains numerous resources[2] on abortion and other pro-life issues to inspire and equip activists, and even runs a pregnancy help center donation drives in partnership with Heartbeat International and CareNet, two leading pregnancy help resource organizations.[3]

 

The March also reaches thousands of persons on social media, even pro-choicers. My first year attending the March, I noticed a pro-choice friend pointing out the hypocrisy of pro-lifers attending the March for Life for abortion while Syrian children were heartbreakingly washing up on beaches.[4] If we think the March isn’t catching the attention of those on the “other side,” then we are mistaken. While the March’s message may not be covered widely on news stations, it is reported broadly across social media and multiple news outlets, such as CNN,[5] PBS,[6] BBC,[7] Yahoo News,[8] NBC News,[9] ABC News,[10] and the New York Times.[11] These reports give testimony to a broad societal awareness, and who knows the number of people these reports may have influenced already and will influence in the future?

 

It’s important for people to see that there are others out there who are not apathetic and are willing to journey to DC to take a stand against abortion. If just one person’s mind is changed after seeing a post/article about the March and it causes them to get involved in activism, volunteer at a pregnancy resource center, donate to pro-life organizations or gain the courage to speak their views to others in their lives, our efforts are not in vain.

 

Community Building

 

The March for Life is the closest opportunity everyone of all backgrounds may ever have to participate in a holy pilgrimage. No, we’re not making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to venerate a dearly departed saint; rather, it is a pilgrimage for anyone dedicated to the sanctity of life, no matter their religion or lack thereof. For us Christians, this pilgrimage helps us on the path of God-like-ness as we strive to counter the false energy of the world with the splendor of the truth. Standing for truth is never pointless - it is what we are called to do. Nobody is marching for themselves or demanding privileges for themselves, as many protesters do; instead, everyone in the March for Life marches on behalf of those who cannot.

 

The Eastern Orthodox Metropolitan as well as several Eastern Orthodox[12] and Roman Catholic[13] Archbishops and bishops speak annually on the National Mall stage before the March begins. There are, unfortunately, many in Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic parishes who are either for or apathetic towards abortion, and, regardless of anyone’s views on ecumenism, the standing up for innocent life shown by these leaders sends a unified reiteration of the ancient Christian faith’s insistence that abortion is a grave moral evil.

 

Growth

The March has grown from only 20,000 persons in 1974 to approximately 200,000 from 1998 onward. In addition to attendee numbers, it also draws big names as speakers, beginning with Ronald Reagan in 1987.[14] Others over the years have included Abby Johnson, Benjamin Watson, Tim Tebow, Mike Pence, Donald Trump, George W. Bush, and various Congressional representatives, such as Jesse Helms, Paul Ryan, Pat Toomey, and Dan Lipinski. Regardless of one’s opinions on these speakers, this is hardly an insignificant gathering of people.

“All the money spent organizing and busing people can better be spent on practical help.”

Why does it need to be one or the other? There is plenty of funding to go around for both marches and pregnancy resource centers if we could open more hearts and minds to the dignity of human life. But, how are we supposed to encourage more practical help from others if we don’t spread awareness through our pro-life message? In a National Catholic Reporter article, the “pro-life” yet shockingly pro-choice author stated that[15] “Pro-life activists and bishops would garner far more support if they channeled a fraction of the energy and resources they spend seeking legal restrictions on abortion into championing policies that actually reduce the demand for it.”

 

How do we reduce the demand for abortion? We must create a culture of life, and this can only begin by our not normalizing indifference or acceptance of the murder of innocent human beings. It’s important to first focus on the eugenic history[16] of the abortion industry and the current eugenic focus on “people of color,”[17] as well as the physical[18] and mental[19] health[20] risks[21] that come from the abortion process. Then, instead of pushing for the right to kill our children, we need to advocate for more respect towards the sanctity of human life and motherhood and fatherhood by pushing for policies such as extended, paid maternity leave, better prenatal care, employer-sponsored childcare, etc. When children are no longer viewed as a “choice,” but as a blessing, as a basic fact of human sexuality and biology, ideally conceived within the life-long marital union of husband and wife,[22] society would truly thrive. Society and employers are free, however, not to consider seriously any of the reasonable requests just mentioned if women’s eliminating their children is still an option. If we view eliminating children as a more reasonable option, after all, than a company’s taking a financial “hit,” then where is the motivation, really, for us to want to do better by our kids?

 

“Roe has been overturned. Why do we still need to march?”

The March for Life isn’t just about overturning legal access to abortion. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is in our current cultural climate that we continue to be a voice of Christ and stand up for the vulnerable, even if we’re unaware of how it changes the minds of others. According to the Guttmacher Institute’s data from 2023,[23] there are currently only 24 states with any type of restriction laws for abortion in place. And, while 49 abortion clinics[24] closed or halted abortions in 2023, we still have a long way to go, and hearts and minds still need to change regardless of which policies and laws are enacted.

 

Avoiding Scandal

The Catechism of the Catholic Church[25] defines scandal in section 2284 as “an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death.” When someone states that they’re pro-life but the March for Life is useless, one may be at risk of creating or furthering apathy in other pro-lifers. Even if it is true that we need to provide more resources for practical help, getting rid of the March isn’t necessarily the answer, and we need to be mindful of the way we are presenting even true assertions. If the March for Life is motivating a person who was previously on the fence about being publicly pro-life to start to proclaim their views that may help others, telling them that the “March accomplishes nothing” is not helpful to them and could even be detrimental to their motivation, and someone that he or she could have helped may now be at a loss. One must avoid an imprudent attitude[26] to those seeking involvement in the pro-life movement to avoid giving them or others around them an excuse to turn away from Christ, the Church, or actions that may help them on their path to deeper holiness.

 

So, the next time someone tells you that the March for Life is just for pro-lifers to stroke their own egos and that it accomplishes nothing, remember that it does matter, and you matter. And I would encourage more pro-lifers to focus on all of the good that comes from the March instead of letting the pessimistic mindset of naysayers take hold.

 

________________________

[1] March for Life, “Our Impact for Life,” marchforlife.org, last accessed December 18, 2023, https://marchforlife.org/our-impact/.

[2] March for Life, “Learn, United, and Mobilize,” marchforlife.org, last accessed December 18, 2023, https://marchforlife.org/education/.

[3] March for Life, “Pregnancy Help Donation Drive,” marchforlife.org, last accessed December 18, 2023, https://marchforlife.org/pregnancyhelp/?utm_source=March+for+Life+List.

[4] Helena Smith, “Shocking images of drowned Syrian boy show tragic plight of refugees,” theguardian.com, last modified September 2, 2025, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/02/shocking-image-of-drowned-syrian-boy-shows-tragic-plight-of-refugees

[5] Veronica Stracqualursi, “Anti-abortion activists attend first March for Life with ‘fresh resolve’ post-Roe,” CNN.com, last modified January 20, 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/20/politics/march-for-life-2023-abortion/index.html.

[6] Ashraf Khalil, “March for Life back in DC for 1st time since Roe V. Wade overturned,” pbs.org, last modified January 20, 2023, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/march-for-life-back-in-dc-for-1st-time-since-roe-v-wade-overturned.

[7] Holly Honderich, “Thousands gather for first post-Roe March for Life,” bbc.com, last modified January 20, 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-64355407.

[8] Dylan Stableford, “March for Life returns to D.C. for 1st time since Supreme Court overturned Roe,” news.yahoo.com, last modified January 20, 2023, https://news.yahoo.com/march-for-life-dc-abortion-pro-life-supreme-court-roe-195505747.html.

[9] Rebecca Shabad, et. al, “Anti-abortion advocates hold annual March for Life rally since Roe reversal for first time,” nbcnews.com, last modified January 20, 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/march-life-anti-abortion-rally-set-take-place-first-time-roe-was-overt-rcna66514.

[10] Libby Cathey, “Anti-abortion groups gather for March for Life with Roe’s fate uncertain,” abcnews.go.com, last modified January 21, 2022, https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/anti-abortion-groups-gather-march-life-roes-fate/story?id=82400243.

[11] Kate Zernike & Madeleine Ngo, “Anti-Abortion Marchers Gather With an Eye on the Supreme Court,” nytimes.com, last modified January 21, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/21/us/march-for-life-rally.html.

[12] Orthodox Church in America, “Orthodox presence at annual DC March for Life,” oca.org, last modified January 22, 2016, https://www.oca.org/media/photos/orthodox-presence-at-annual-dc-march-for-life.

[13] Catholic News Service, “Archbishop: ‘Let’s pray we can be effective witnesses’ for life, love, mercy,” vermontcatholic.org, last modified January 20, 2019, https://www.vermontcatholic.org/nation/archbishop-lets-pray-we-can-be-effective-witnesses-for-life-love-mercy/.

[14] Robin Toner, “Rally Against Abortion Hears Pledge of Support by Reagan,” nytimes.com, last accessed December 18, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/1987/01/23/us/rally-against-abortion-hears-pledge-of-support-by-reagan.html.

[15] Kathleen S. Cummings, “I’m pro-life. Here’s why I don’t attend the March for Life,” ncronline.org, last modified January 21, 2022, https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/im-pro-life-heres-why-i-dont-attend-march-life.

[16] Abort73, “Planned Parenthood’s Eugenic Legacy,” Abort73.com, last accessed December 18, 2023, https://www.abort73.com/abortion/a_legacy_of_eugenics/.

[17] Planned Parenthood Action, “About Planned Parenthood Action Fund,” plannedparenthoodaction.org, last accessed December 18, 2023, https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/about-us.

[18] Profemina, “Risks and Side Effects of an Abortion,” profemina.org, last modified December 12, 2023, https://www.profemina.org/en-us/abortion/risks-and-side-effects-of-abortion.

[19] “More Dreams and Nightmares after an abortion,” afterabortion.com, last accessed December 18, 2023, https://www.afterabortion.com/more_dreams.html.

[20] Yvonne B. Tobah, “Could an elective abortion increase the risk of problems in a subsequent pregnancy?” mayoclinic.org, last modified August 3, 2022, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/expert-answers/abortion/faq-20058551.

[21] Priscilla K. Coleman, "Abortion and Mental Health: Quantitative Synthesis and Analysis of Research Published 1995–2009." British Journal of Psychiatry 199, no. 3 (2011): 180-86. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.110.077230.

[22] Katy Faust, “The Greatest Battle of Our Time,” thembeforeus.com, last modified April 13, 2017, https://thembeforeus.com/the-greatest-battle-of-our-time/

[23] Elizabeth Nash & Isabel Guarnieri, “Six Months Post-Roe, 24 US States Have Banned Abortion or Are Likely to Do So: A Roundup,” guttmacher.org, last modified January 10, 2023, https://www.guttmacher.org/2023/01/six-months-post-roe-24-us-states-have-banned-abortion-or-are-likely-do-so-roundup.

[24] Steven Ertelt, “65 Abortion Centers Have Closed Since Dobbs, Saving Thousands of Babies From Abortions,” lifenews.com, last modified December 5, 2023, https://www.lifenews.com/2023/12/05/65-abortion-centers-have-closed-since-dobbs-saving-thousands-of-babies-from-abortions/.

[25] Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church: Revised in Accordance with the Official Latin Text Promulgated by Pope John Paul II (Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 2000).

[26] David Dashiell, “The Sin of Scandal - and How Not to Commit It,” catholic.com, last modified November 25, 2020, https://www.catholic.com/magazine/online-edition/understanding-scandal.

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