Forty-four years of marching pays off.
On Friday our two little platoons, over one hundred parishioners strong, attended Mass, boarded the buses, and headed into the District to join several hundred thousand of our compatriots for the 44th March for Life. The annual March is a testament to a movement that kept the faith and witness to the humanity of unborn children in the face of a solid phalanx of opposition from political, media, academic, and intellectual establishments. Despite arguing the case for life since law school, this was my first March. I decided I could not let my children be the only representatives of our clan, at least this year. Time for Dad to man up.
It was worth the wait. This was a historic moment in that it was the first time a sitting Vice President addressed the massive rally prior to the March before the throng tramped up Constitution, Pennsylvania to the Hill and Supreme Court. More on the Vice President’s address below. What was at least as inspiring as Mike Pence’s moving address, and that of the intrepid Kellyanne Conway, was the overwhelming presence and number of young people, women more than men, from across the country who took time off from work, college, high school and primary school to proclaim a positive message. This was a happy, joyous, energetic crowd expressing love and compassion, not just for the millions of unborn children lost these many decades, but also the mothers who, in their desperation and loneliness, often pressured by prospective fathers, believed they had no other option.
And the sense of great expectations was palpable given the capture of both houses of Congress and the White House, by the political party aligned with the culture of life, and the prospect of several new appointments to the Supreme Court. The various and sundry speeches by several members of the House of Representatives, several dynamic women as well as that pro-life stalwart, Chris Smith (R-NJ), were indicative of a purposeful, resolute, and informed political expression of a societal shift as could only be dreamed of since Roe v. Wade became the law, bad law, of the land.
Kellyanne Conway, the first woman to have managed a successful presidential campaign, proclaimed to the crowd, “I am a wife. A mother. A Catholic. Counselor to the president of the United States of America. And yes, I am pro-life!”
“This is a new day,” said Conway. “A new dawn for life.”
“All women who face unplanned pregnancies, they should know they are not alone. They are not judged. They, too, are protected and cared for and celebrated,” she stated. “So, to the March for Life 2017, allow me to make it very clear. We hear you. We see you. We respect you, and we look forward to working with you.”
“And yes, we walk. We march. We run, and we endeavor forward with you.”
And the crowd, as they say, went wild. And this was just the warm-up. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, and daughter Charlotte addressed the crowd next. It was worth the added security delays, a real pain by the way, and sign of these strange times.
Karen Pence noted that this was not her family’s first March for Life and expressed her solidarity with the cause and the crowd. This was evident in her husband’s remarks given his eloquence and fluency with the life issues. Over the decades, except for a few members of the House — Henry Hyde always comes to mind — even conservative politicians seemed to be tongue-tied on this issue even while voting right. This has been a weakness of the political movement for years. No more as evidenced by the Vice President as well as the forceful congressional speakers at the March rally
The Vice President, after reaffirming the Declaration of Independence and its “certain unalienable rights” endowed by the Creator, “life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” asserted that “life is winning in America again,” in large part “because of all of you, and the many more who stand with us in marches just like this across the nation.”
“But it is no more evident than in this historic election of a president who stands for a stronger America, a more prosperous America, and a president who I proudly say stands for the right to life — President Donald Trump.”
The President also tweeted his support for the March. How else? He had asked Pence to address the rally on his behalf.
“Life is winning in America,” repeated the Vice President. “And today is a celebration of the progress that we have made in the cause.”
Pitch-perfect, Pence stayed with this winning theme to great effect:
Life is winning through the steady advance of science that illuminates when life begins.
Life is winning through the generosity of millions of adoptive families, who open their hearts and homes to children in need.
Life is winning through the compassion of caregivers and volunteers at crisis pregnancy centers and faith-based organizations who minister to women, in cities and towns across the country.
And life is winning through the quiet counsels between mothers and daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters, between friends across kitchen tables, and over coffee on college campuses the truth is being told and compassion is overcoming convenience, hope is defeating despair.
The Vice President drove home these themes of compassion and hope in a powerful conclusion in which he noted that it is written, “let gentleness be evident to all.”
“Let this movement be known for love, not anger-for compassion, not confrontation,” he exhorted the rally. “When it comes to matters of the heart, there is nothing stronger than gentleness.”
It is a consolation to know that the new Administration has such powerful voices speaking up for the culture of life in its corridors of power.