A reader has chastised us here at America for not offering a post about the annual March for Life. It is a fair question. I can only answer for myself but I have very mixed feelings about the March. What I like about it is also what I don’t like about: It has failed utterly to make a difference in this nation’s abortion policy. So, on the one hand, is it really newsworthy that the pro-life movement is still banging its head against the wall? On the other hand, my anti-utilitarian sensibilities like the fact that the Church continues to give witness to its pro-life beliefs whether there are legal consequences or not.
That said, there is a different reason why I do not participate in the annual March. I think it probably alienates the very people we should be trying to reach: women facing crisis pregnancies. The rhetoric on the signs tend to equate abortion with murder which may be objectively true but also lacks the empathy with the desperate circumstance of many women that is the necessary precursor to an effective evangelization of the Gospel of Life. And, finally, the March perpetuates the false belief that if Roe were overturned the abortion rate would plummet. In fact, most states would codify Roe. A legal strategy must be replaced by a cultural strategy if we are to make a real dent in the abortion rate in this country.
There are tens of thousands of parishes in America. Each one of them must become a sympathetic crisis pregnancy center, a place of sanctuary and solidarity for women who find themselves with an unplanned pregnancy and few practical options for raising the child as they would want. The vast array of social services and hospitals that the Church dispenses must be put at the disposal of women in this situation. But, even if we do that, the angry chants outside the Supreme Court will drown out the message of solidarity we need to convey. That is why I do not participate in the March for Life.
Like all pro-life Americans, I was disappointed but not surprised by President Obama’s revocation of the Mexico City policy that forbid government funds for foreign organizations that perform or promote abortions. I believe the President is sincere when he says he wants to reach common ground on this divisive issue, adopting policies that seek to lower the number of unintended pregnancies in the first place. Those of us who supported him despite his pro-choice views await serious efforts in this regard.
So, the March for Life has come and gone. Nothing has changed. It has been that for many, many years. I applaud those who feel called to witness to their veneration for life, but I also hope they will find more effective ways of spreading the Gospel of Life.