Not-So-Sweet Victory – The American Spectator

The mid-January sun made an appearance, but clouds still obscured the horizon, portending a long road ahead for pro-life marchers.

To those who have marched before, this year’s March for Life seemed more or less the same as it did in years past. For 50 years, millions of Americans worked, protested, and prayed tirelessly for an end to Roe v. Wade.

This year, we celebrated its death.

But even though the pro-life movement experienced a massive legal victory in Dobbs last June, the fight for life continues much the same as before. Kansas gave the movement an early taste of defeat. State after state delivered similarly depressing results in November. Life lost in my home state of Michigan with a newly established constitutional right to abortion and all the other insidious trappings of reproductive freedom.

These losses look like defeat. Roe is no more, but the death toll of abortion continues to rise with no end in sight.

Something needs to give. It can’t be us.

Yet, somehow, joy remains the hallmark of the March for Life. Joy was present last Friday, even as the future looks rather bleak for the pro-life movement. It seems to well up from prayer groups and crisis pregnancy centers, from teenagers elated that they are the post-Roe generation. This joy springs from the knowledge that life will win in the end, that death can have no victory, that its sting will be robbed of all power.

As usual, the crowd was populated by vibrant student groups — some from colleges, others from high schools, still others from Christian youth organizations. Church groups, moms pushing strollers, packs of seminarians, and various Catholic priests and religious dotted the crowd.

So, too, progressive opponents of abortion — signs calling for an end to the patriarchy and capitalism held high — joined the crowd, strange bedfellows with grizzled veterans and Midwestern grandmothers, but welcome fellow travelers.

There was chanting; there was chatting. Others prayed or walked in silence. And joy persisted, even as participants gathered to oppose one of the deepest evils known to man. Even as they marched past massive, grotesque signs depicting the small, bloodied bodies of aborted children. Some marchers quickly looked away, smiles faltering for a second before flickering back to life. Others seemed unable to look beyond the signs and their images to catch sight of Lady Freedom atop the nearing Capitol.

Why do we return to Washington year after year? Memories from various marches — four for me — blur together, always haunted by a vague disappointment. We show up, we march, we walk to Capitol Hill, to the Supreme Court, again and again. Outside the Supreme Court, liberal journalists flock to the annual handful of counter-protesters and ignore the smiling crowd streaming through the street.

The march passes between the Supreme Court and the Capitol just within earshot of a small podium. A woman takes the microphone to speak about her abortions, about her deep grief, about her change of heart. Just behind her, a marble figure guards the steps leading up to the court, robes frozen mid-motion, staring in watchful silence. She is the Contemplation of Justice, I learn later.

“I was not a person. I was just a source of revenue,” the woman says.

Though we march year after year, how many more children will our nation sacrifice at the altar of mammon? We will march in Washington; we will march in our states. But the rifts in our nation run deeper than we realize. Something needs to give. It can’t be us.

The March for Life this year is more joyful for the death of Roe, but it is joy in the face of deep suffering and grave evil. The chants, the matching T-shirts, the drumlines — they all seem to sugarcoat an intractable reality.

Is the march an ersatz joy? Perhaps. But better to march with joy than not to march at all.

Mary Frances Myler is a postgraduate fellow with Notre Dame’s Center for Citizenship and Constitutional Government. Her writing has been published in The American Conservative, National Catholic Register, Law and Liberty, and the Federalist.


How to Improve the March for Life

Women for Abortion, March!

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