Pro-life activists have been marching every year for 47 years, and they still haven’t achieved their two boldest goals—first, to abolish abortion legally, and then to see the very idea become unthinkable.
But not only were the tens of thousands at the 2020 March for Life in Washington, D.C., undaunted; they believe their initial goal is in sight, and they are committed to achieving the second as well. They point to decreasing numbers of abortions, the closing of many Planned Parenthood clinics and the introduction or passage of many state laws restricting abortion. And they note that Donald Trump is the most pro-life president in U.S. history. This year, he became the first president to address the March for Life in person.
Also for the first time this year, Franklin Graham joined the March for Life with his daughter, Cissie Graham Lynch.
“It’s amazing to see people in our nation’s capital stand for this issue,” Franklin said. “For President Trump to come here and do this—I’m proud of him. He has guts. He’s not a perfect person. We are all flawed individuals, but he is a man who has stood for the Christian faith. He’s pro-life. … He’s the only president who has stood for life like this.”
At the end of the march, standing outside the U.S. Supreme Court, Cissie observed: “It is so powerful to be in the crowd with all the thousands of people—Americans raising their voices. … This is a generation that is changing, and I love seeing all the young people here. You saw all ages represented, but especially young people. The future is bright, and their voices are going to be heard to put an end to abortion and to protect those most vulnerable—the unborn.
“We’re changing the mindset of a generation, and a generation is rising up that knows truth and is speaking with truth and grace and love. My prayer is that my children’s generation will look back and say, ‘I can’t imagine that we used to have a society that allowed that.’”
President Trump addressed the marchers at a rally on the National Mall. “We are here for a very simple reason,” he said, “to defend the right of every child, born and unborn, to fulfill their God-given potential. … Today, as president of the United States, I am truly proud to stand with you.”
Trump praised the many thousands of young adults and teenagers at the march, telling them, “It’s your generation that is making America the pro-family, pro-life nation.”
He contrasted his administration’s pro-life stance with the extreme abortion-rights views of major Democratic Party politicians.
“Democrats have embraced the most radical and extreme positions taken and seen in this country for years and decades, and you could even say for centuries,” he said. “Nearly every top Democrat in Congress now supports taxpayer-funded abortion all the way up until the moment of birth.”
He added: “We cannot know what our citizens yet unborn will achieve—the dreams they will imagine, the masterpieces they will create, the discoveries they will make. But we know this: Every life brings love into this world. Every child brings joy to a family. Every person is worth protecting. And above all, we know that every human soul is divine, and every human life, born and unborn, is made in the holy image of Almighty God.”
Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence also addressed the marchers, via video from Rome.
“To all the people of faith who are marching today, we want to thank you for your witness,” Karen Pence said. “Thank you for your compassion. And thank you for standing for life. Your prayers have sustained this important movement for nearly 50 years, and we cannot be more proud to be on this journey with you.”
Although there are secular pro-life advocates and also those who follow other religions, the overwhelming majority base their stance on Biblical truth. They point to Scriptures that clearly teach that life begins before birth:
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:13-16).
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).
So it wasn’t surprising that all along Washington’s Constitution Avenue, from 12th Street to First Street at the U.S. Supreme Court, marchers sang hymns, prayed and talked to one another about loving and caring for pregnant women and their babies. They carried signs such as “Choose life” and “Pray to end abortion.” Thousands of young people affiliated with Students for Life America carried signs proclaiming, “I am the pro-life generation,” and a number of women from the Silent No More Awareness group held signs saying, “I regret my abortion.”
“I love everything about being pro-life,” said Katelyn Regan, one of five students who attended from Students for Life at the University of New Hampshire. Regan told Decision her group often serves mothers of young children in crisis shelters by providing child care. “There’s so much more than just not supporting abortion,” Regan said. “I am so glad to be here because we truly are the pro-life generation.”
The vibrant warmth and heartfelt compassion of the marchers stood in stark contrast to a small group of abortion-rights protesters who stood across the street from the Supreme Court and shouted into a megaphone, “Pro-life is a lie; you don’t care if women die” and “Christian fascists out now.”
But the chants of abortion-rights protesters fall flat when one looks at today’s pro-life movement. Leftists have long quipped that pro-life advocates “believe life begins at conception and ends at birth,” implying that they provide no help to poor and single mothers once their babies are born.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Consider: There are more than 2,000 crisis pregnancy centers in the United States that do much more than encourage women to choose life. The free help they provide includes services such as pregnancy tests, peer counseling, adoption referrals, financial assistance, job training and supplies such as formula and diapers. Although not all provide medical care, more than 1,600 provide ultrasounds and more than 500 provide free STD testing.
And when pro-abortion activists claim that abortion giant Planned Parenthood is the only available health care provider for millions of women, they conveniently ignore the fact that free comprehensive medical care is available at government-funded health centers, which operate some 12,000 service delivery sites across the nation—with locations in every state, territory and the District of Columbia.
Many churches are taking up the challenge of ministering to mothers who choose life for their babies, said Trillia Newbell, director of community outreach for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Newbell was a panelist at an event hosted by the group on the evening before the March for Life. Another panelist, Lauren Green McAfee of Hobby Lobby, noted that the church she attends lives out a pro-life ethic in several ways: It is connected with a pro-life pregnancy center, it has a single moms ministry, it has a fund to help people afford adoption, and it operates a ministry that provides support groups for families that are fostering and adopting.
“There are a lot of ways the church can live out this pro-life ethic,” McAfee said. “And maybe you’re the person in your church who is going to start one of these ministries.”
At the same event, Herbie Newell, president and executive director of Lifeline Children’s Services, said that being pro-life must be about more than rhetoric or legal action; it must display the love of Christ to single mothers and struggling families. “The pro-life issue is a Gospel issue,” Newell said, adding, “All works of justice done apart from the Gospel are futile.”
Among Christians, there is a palpable optimism about the pro-life movement.
“I think we are closer than ever before to achieving Step 1 of our goal, which is reversing Roe,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life, during a Facebook live event Jan. 22. “[But that] doesn’t end abortion. Don’t think we’re having a big party that day, because the real battle will just begin.” Hawkins explained that if Roe is reversed at the federal level, the issue will revert to the states, and pro-life advocates will need to be ready to act in every one of them.
And despite the hope that this will happen, huge challenges remain, Hawkins said. Reversing Roe will require both a pro-life president and a pro-life Senate to confirm one or two more pro-life Supreme Court justices—which Hawkins believes may be necessary before the court will actually overturn Roe.
“We are the pro-life generation,” Hawkins said. “But we also have an opportunity to be the first post-Roe generation. We can be it.” But she warns that if America elects pro-abortion leaders this year, that may not happen.
Abby Johnson, founder of the pro-life organization And Then There Were None, added: “If we don’t win the 2020 election, I’m not sure that I will see the end of Roe v. Wade in my lifetime. And that’s just reality. It’s just too important. 2020 is a game-changing election.”
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.
Photo: David Morrison/©2020 Samaritan's Purse