January 24, 2005, 7:40 a.m.
National Review Online
EDITOR'S NOTE: Today marks the 32 annual March for Life on Washington, D.C., protesting the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. Why march every year? NRO asked a few pro-lifers that question. Their answers follow.
Robert P. George-
"Supreme Court Settles Abortion Issue" — The New York Times, January 23, 1973.
We march each year to defy the New York Times and falsify its infamous headline. We march to prove that this is still America, where faithful people will never permit the promise of our Declaration of Independence to sink into desuetude. We march to express implacable resistance to the forces of the culture of death.
— Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University.
The point of marching every year is just like the point of observing Memorial Day every year. It's appropriate to remember a tragedy on an annual basis and draw attention, showing that we haven't forgotten and engaging in corporate mourning. It's also important to demonstrate our commitment to changing this situation and our resolve to continue to demand that unborn children be protected from fatal violence.
— Frederica Mathewes-Green writes regularly for NPR's Morning Edition, Beliefnet.com, Christianity Today, and other publications. She is the author of Gender: Men, Women, Sex and Feminism, among other books.
In politics, steadiness is everything. Persistence counts. Will power and people power matter. That is why, exhausting as it is, repetitive as it is (like the circulation of the blood, the beating of the heart, the rhythm of the lungs), the March for Life must go on year after year, through storm and sleet and hail.
The Supreme Court wants us to believe that they have settled a matter they have no power nor right to settle, that they have created precedents, and generated behaviors and commitments which compromise millions and many will therefore want in self-interest to defend, and that slowly their decision of 1973 will pacify the public thoroughly.
But they have overstepped their powers. They have practiced government without the consent of the governed. They have usurped the role of the legislature.
We have no procedure for making our consciences effective within the law, short of marches and protests and a constant series of elections — defeating those who would kill the unborn by choice, and bringing in new champions of the inalienable right to life and to defend the otherwise defenseless.
The moral position of the other side is more and more visibly untenable.
They are welcome to their liberty and their free choice, of course, but they have no right to employ these to abort the lives of those who are human individuals every bit as much as they are. The genetic code of every single one of the aborted is unique and irreplaceable, different from that of mother and father (although of course related). The aborted would never become cocker spaniels or sparrows or any other creature except fully grown human beings, were their lives not abruptly taken from them.
Each of them would be different from any brother or sister or any other person. To destroy these unique human individuals wantonly is no one's right.
In a Lockean democracy, the point of the social contract between the individual and the state is to protect vulnerable individuals from the rapacity of others. The state is obligated to provide that protection. In the case of the aborted, it is failing in its duty.
March on, then! March on!
Sooner or later the drip, drip, drip of the "water torture" of this annual March will awaken the nation. Today our nation knows not what it is doing. It is refusing to regard with clear eyes the horrific abuse it is heaping on its own unborn.
We march to invite people to, please, think again. "You could not possibly wish abortion had been done to you," we say. "Therefore, do it not to others."
— Michael Novak's latest book is The Universal Hunger for Liberty (Perseus, Basic), but he has written extensively on the theme addressed above in Belief and Unbelief and The Experience of Nothingness, as well as (with Jana Novak) Tell Me Why, all of which are still in print and available through his website at www.michaelnovak.net.
The great victory of the pro-life movement is that we have kept the issue front and center in the American consciousness. We are still here and are not going away. This annual march is the largest visible manifestation of this fact."
— Austin Ruse is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Culture of Life Foundation.
The March for Life is a protest against an act of raw judicial power that is responsible for the death of over 40 million Americans. When the Supreme Court imposed a radical legal regime for abortion nationwide, it violated the will of the people and the constitutional workings of our democracy. And the march will continue until the will of the people is done. No other issue in the history of the country has generated such a sustained act of protest. All together, more people have marched in this march for this cause than in any other in American history.
— Cathy Cleaver Ruse is pro-life spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
I think the march is something of a pilgrimage.The March is organically grown, not a particularly organized event. There's no promotion, no cajoling of people and associated special-interest groups to attend (like the so-called March for Women's Lives). The weather is the worst of the entire year, yet the number of attendees only grows. It's something pro-lifers are just drawn to do. The march provides an opportunity to see a hundred thousand friends, gathered together to mourn the loss of 45 million of our babies.
— Jill Stanek is a nurse and pro-life activist.