This is year was the 40th March for Life and probably the coldest one that I have attended in over 20 years. A great deal about the march has changed over the past 20 plus years. The number of screaming pro-abortion protestors are now negligible, better marcher attendance, an ecumenical approach, events and activities leading up to the march, etc.
From my perspective, the greatest positive is that the March for Life and all the activities associated with it are more Pro-Life than ever. The Diocese of Arlington (my diocese) and the Archdiocese of Washington have purposefully and consistently designed and provided well-rounded activities and experiences that illuminate Catholic teaching about what it means to be Pro-Life.
This year, over 5,000 teens gathered at the GMU Patriot Center Tuesday night for the Life is Very Good Rally and Eucharistic adoration to prepare for the march (Planned and executed by the diocesan Office of Youth Ministry –they rock!). The next morning, over 3,000 youth and clergy gathered around Bishop Loverde and Bishop Cistone (Bishop of Saginaw) for the Divine Liturgy. Weather conditions unfortunately prevented the 7,500 originally anticipated. Equally impressive is the 28,000 that concurrently gathered for the Rally and Mass for Life hosted by the Archdiocese of Washington.
Bishop Loverde preached one of his best sermons ever. He preached the Church’s consistent concern and care not only for the pre-born, but for all human life from conception to natural death and all stages in between. Not just with mere words but demonstrated in our commitment through practical examples that the Church is not just Pro-birth but Pro-life. Those examples included: Catholic Charities Counseling and Adoption Services that offers every woman its assistance so they know they have an option; Project Gabriel that assists and supports women who choose life in the midst of financial, familial and every other difficult circumstance you could imagine (While Bishop did not mention it, the Paul Stefan Foundation in our diocese houses disadvantaged pregnant women and provides for all their care from pregnancy through finding a stable job and living arrangements); and Project Rachel for post-abortive women who now desire the healing, mercy, and counseling that they deserve. He reminded us that we need to end the grave societal blight of contraception that poisons familial relationships and the root of abortion. He also prophetically spoke about the need to defend the God-ordained institution of marriage between only a natural man and a natural woman. If you get a chance next week, read his full homily in the Arlington Catholic Herald.
The March for Life, organized by Jeanne Monahan, President of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, and her team, continues 40 years of success in not only educating participants but also bringing together Catholics, Christians of all denomination and non-Christians alike – representing all 50 states and numerous foreign countries. Ms. Monahan chose adoption as this year’s theme stating,”Adoption is a heroic decision for pregnant mothers who find themselves in a difficult situation.” Speakers included: Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Dr. James Dobson and son Ryan, Focus on the Family and numerous others.
This past week, I was asked if I thought the March for Life is effective or just a field trip for high schoolers. Yes and no. Let’s be honest, some of the high school participants are participating just to get out of class. However, my experience of what I saw and heard revealed the passion of youth who know moral evil when they see it. I also believe that it would be fair to say that there are those who believe the march is ineffective – not because of a lack of effort, truth and passion, but because the majority of policy-makers, who should be swayed by the hundreds of thousands of voices and the research they continually present (all year long), choose not to care. Or maybe they care too much about the money that Planned Parenthood lines their pockets with. St. Paul said it well,
…for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools…Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves… (Romans 1:21, 24-25)
That being said, the March for Life is not only effective but necessary for the youth because they are taught the truth in a time when society, schools, governmental agencies and every other establishment idolizes this industry of murder, human body-part harvesting and institutional slavery.
Just one pet peeve I want to mention. Whoopi Goldberg in the 1980s threw down the gauntlet and commented that if the Church is so pro-life, it should offer the option of adoption if it hates abortions so much. Others, especially in the mental health field, continue to echo the same naïve claim. We would love to. But it is common knowledge that Planned Parenthood doesn’t offer it…even though it claims a 391:1 (abortion to adoption) rate. Why? As attorney Casey Mattox with the Alliance Defending Freedom discusses in a piece on Planned Parenthood’s adoption of the “gag rule“,
“…even those numbers may be inflated because former Planned Parenthood clinic directors tell me that there is no reporting system for adoption referrals and they never saw one. In the nation as a whole, there are roughly 1.1 million abortions and 160,000 adoptions every year.”
We would love to adopt the children, but they would have to offer it first. And the law that governs Planned Parenthood is written in favor of abortion.
From my perspective, the 2014 March for Life was a huge success. As for the March for Life team, Ms. Monahan et al, regards to your team and another job well done. But even closer to my heart, Bishop Loverde and Kevin Bohli, your team at the Office of Youth Ministry – you guys are rock stars and I feel privileged to work with you.
Stay tuned for additional entries debunking other common myths and misperceptions about abortion and its industry of slavery.
 Provided by the event organizer, Diocese of Arlington, Office of Youth Ministry, January 25, 2014.
 “March for Life Media Center,” March for Life Education & Defense Fund, January 25, 2014, accessed January 25, 2014, http://marchforlife.org/media-center/press-contacts.
 “Aborted Babies Are Being Chopped up and Sold to Researchers All Over America with the Full Approval of the Obama Administration,” The American Dream, January 25, 2014, accessed January 25, 2014, http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/aborted-babies-are-being-chopped-up-and-sold-to-researchers-all-over-america-with-the-full-approval-of-the-obama-administration.
 “Slavery Compared to Abortion,” Illinois Right to Life Committee, January 25, 2014, accessed January 25, 2014, http://www.illinoisrighttolife.org/SlaveryAbortion.htm.
 Casey Mattox, “Planned Parenthood’s Adoption “gag Rule”,” The Bell Towers, September 9, 2013, accessed January 26, 2014, http://thebelltowers.com/2013/09/09/planned-parenthoods-adoption-gag-rule/.