Lip Service to Life

The annual March for Life has come and gone. One of its more bizarre qualities is the way GOP presidents participate: by recorded message or telephone hook-up, but never in person. This began during Ronald Reagan’s presidency when some advisors did not want a photo beamed around the world of Reagan addressing the crowd, but those same advisors knew they had to at least acknowledge the role that pro-life forces played in Reagan’s 1980 victory. Reagan could look out the window of the Oval Office and see that marchers, as could every president since, but the phone connection has remained the means of participation. Even George W. Bush, who will never face another election and seems plenty unconcerned about the political fallout of other decisions, could not manage to emerge from his office to address the crowd in person. Yesterday’s march in Washington was no different. Presidential aspirant John McCain sent a letter to the marchers that was read by fellow Sen. Sam Brownback. Mitt Romney, whose previous flip-flop on abortion has earned him a great deal of suspicion from conservative voters, issued a press release that is buried on his campaign’s Web site. Mike Huckabee participated in a March for Life in Atlanta. Ron Paul had the most significant abortion-related news of the day, announcing the endorsement of his candidacy by Norma McCorvey, who was "Jane Roe" in the Roe v. Wade court case that landed before the Supreme Court in 1973. Huckabee is probably finished after his loss in South Carolina, and Ron Paul, whose followers are as devoted as they are few, is not in serious contention for the GOP nod. But both McCain and Romney would have gained much by showing up at the march in Washington yesterday. At some point, pro-life groups need to challenge those whose disembodied voices fill their ears every January. This bizarre "telephone hook-up" is, in both the literal and figurative senses of the phrase, lip service to the cause. The loyal pro-life members of the GOP coalition deserve more, to say nothing of the unborn. Michael Sean Winters
9 years 6 months ago
It disturbs me to see my church and the Republican party coming so close together. I forget, is the March for Life a Catholic event or a Republican rally? I confuse the two sometimes. (Note: this is sarcasm). In all honesty, the Republican Party cares about the sanctity of life to the extent that they can get good people to vote for them. Until we can change our country's politics, find common ground, and change the way we think about abortion, it will remain a wedge issue that divides this country instead of uniting it.
9 years 6 months ago
I was on the Mall as a first time participant in the March for Life on Tuesday. Given his unpopularity, President Bush may have done us a favor by not showing up. I wish that the members of Congress who were there had done the same. Their speeches, what little I heard of them, were mostly pandering to the crowd, who seemed to largerly ignore them. But I was not disappointed by the event. The emphasis for the group from our Diocese was on religious pilgrimage and not political rally. Perhaps it is in the conversion of hearts and not in court decisions that the ultimate solution lies.
9 years 6 months ago
James A... Maybe the reason that no other republican supported ron pauls "Sanctity of Life" bill is that they know the only body that can declare anything unconstitutional is the Supreme Court itself.
9 years 6 months ago
A minor clarification: The statement: "Reagan could look out the window of the Oval Office and see that [sic] marchers, as could every president since", is only half true. During the Reagan Administration marches were, indeed, staged at the Ellipse in front of the White House. Yesterday's March was staged in front of the National Archives at 7th and Constitution and had President Bush looked out of the Oval Office window at roughly 2:15 pm when the March finally started, he would have seen what he sees everyday -- the flags at the base of the Washington Monument and in the distance the Jefferson Memorial. The March for Life was happening roughly eight blocks east of the White House on 7th Street. For those of us off the Mall yesterday and unable to make our way up the hill between the National Gallery of Art and Natural History Museum to the stage, the March was a strange and somewhat haphazard affair. We were unable to hear the speeches and only caught the last few strains of "God Bless America". There was almost no spacing between the marchers and the prospect of getting stuck in the scrum at the top of Capitol Hill was sufficiently daunting that we peeled off on Louisiana and boarded our buses in front of Union Station a few minutes earlier than anticipated. That said, Mass at the recently-restored St. Matthews was, while crowded, wonderfully moving with the pews and aisles filled with Catholic school students from the Archdiocese of Washington and up and down the East Coast.
9 years 6 months ago
I was at the March for Life yesterday. And, unlike past years, I don't think that was a live telephone hook-up. I think they played a recording of remarks President Bush delivered earlier that morning at the White House to a gathering of pro-life leaders. Ron Paul did speak in person from the stage to the March for Life crowd (in his role as a pro-life Congressman; he did not indicate he was running for Prez). There also were lots of Ron Paul signs and banners in the crowd.
9 years 6 months ago
Mark, Because in the end, they don't really care enough to be bothered with it. Like slavery in America, which was opposed by the majority almost from day one, the Presidents and candidates played lip service to it. Too afraid to take a strong stance on ANYTHING so as not to get caught up in it. It's telling that abortion has been an issue in every election since roe v. wade, yet not a single thing has been done about it. It is convenient to keep it a dividing issue to mask the lack of contrast between the two parties on most issues. Ron Paul is honestly the only one with a plan to stop abortion, and he can't even get a single republican to co-sponsor his "Sanctity of life Act" which would remove the supreme court's jurisdiction on the abortion issue due to it being unconstitutional. But, like I said, it is too convenient to keep it going for political purposes.
9 years 6 months ago
They don't show up because they aren't really interested in the issue. Would civil rights have happened if Martin Luther King did not go to the Lincoln Memorial? Would women have the right to vote if Alice Paul and her Silent Sentinals did not stand outside the gates of the White House for 18 months? Being there is half the battle. Being honest and being right split the other half. Abortion should be called what it is, the murder of an unborn human baby. Honestly it is what it is. There is no room for political correctness in this debate.
9 years 6 months ago
The Republicans have spoken out of both sides of their mouths on pro-life issues since the beginning. Stridently anti-abortion, to secure votes, and stridently pro-death penalty, to secure votes. What do you expect? The entire movement implicitly reeks of hypocrisy. The Church's "seamless garment" position is the only true pro-life position out there, and it goes ignored. Truth be told, there is an entire class of well-connected "conservatives" who wouldn't hesitate to secure abortions for their teen-aged daughters rather than risk the full-throated contempt they heap on the poor for out-of-wedlock pregnancies.
9 years 6 months ago
The reason they don't show up is because there aren't enough of you to make a majority and they aren't truly on your side. All they want is your vote. The majority of Americans would not choose to have an abortion but they also know the law can not provide equal protection to an embryo. If your goal is to completely outlaw abortion you are seen by the majority as too radical. Republican presidents understand this hence no appearences at your rallies.
9 years 6 months ago
Considering AMERICA's liberal 'opinion-as-news' history, it was predictable that the only letters to the editor you published were attacks on Bush and other Republicans for not attending the MARCH FOR LIFE. Unless you require a political identification before allowing anyone to subscribe to AMERICA, it is unlikely you didn't get some messages praising Bush's excellent and encouraging words to those gathered for the MARCH...but then, no surprise you didn't publish them, it's AMERICA.
9 years 6 months ago
As a republican and pro life American, I'm finding it harder and harder to reconcile my hatred of abortion and my party's support of a war that has killed thousands (tens of thousands, more?) of Iraqi babies and small children (and of course our own soliders). Why does our protest of abortion in the US not extend to the unecessary war that's an abortion of iraqi babies? And the killing of our soldiers?
9 years 6 months ago
President Bush's special message to the Pro Life Movement: http://youtube.com/watch?v=D0IJkD0znCQ
9 years 6 months ago
You make a good point. Why can't the President, who is presumably a Republican, just show up? He or she doesn't have to come every year, just every now and then. Such an expectation is not exactly an outlandish demand. The president's presence would also do good. It would not only encourage the marchers, but also show them his or her gratitude. Are pro-choicers really going to be mad that the president appeared in person at one of these rallies. I don't think so. If it is, where is the evidence?
9 years 6 months ago
I am sorry to say I had no idea that the Right to Life March even took place ! I think the media was busy covering the media created race war between democrats. I guess the Mormon 'issue' has faded away for the moment. The fact that a million or so abortions (give or take a few hundred thousand)take place yearly in the United States is hardly news? Oh my gosh ... Did you hear millionare actor/star Heath Ledger died of a drug overdose ... Isnt that sad?
9 years 6 months ago
It is interesting to note that Republicans treat right-to-life groups the way that Democrats treat Gay and Lesbian groups. In both cases the party claims to fully support you but the people in power will never actually show up and stand with you in public. I never thought I'd have anything in common with you guys but you learn something new every day!
9 years 6 months ago
I think I'd rather have a President who has to acknowledge the pro-life movement, even if he does it by phone and loudspeakers, than one who believes that we are about oppressing women. Of course politicians want our vote, and we want theirs in the Congress and the state legislatures. We have to keep working on the pols. The pro-life side continues to grow; the pro-abortion ("pro-choice") side grows older and shriller. If we stay the course, we will obtain protection for all human beings including the unborn. The reference by another commenter to the women's suffrage movement is quite apt, I think. It took that movement about 75 years to achieve what it set out to do. I think we need to think in such terms ourselves--if the law is changed sooner, great, but we never give up just because it takes a while to achieve the goal.
9 years 6 months ago
THIS is the reason I stopped marching. I had greater hopes when Reagan and Bush I were in office. When the abortion rate dropped in the 90s, I realized all we were getting was lip service. ALSO - issues of Creationism vs. Evolution, gay rights, gun rights (yes you read that correctly) began to creep into my circle of friends. If you weren't on board with the Republican right on those issues, you weren't really pro-life. I stopped marching. On January 22 every year, people need to put aside their differences on all issues NOT relating to abortion and march together. Peace out. Mike

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