Should the pro-life community commemorate the date of the greatest defeat for the protection of unborn children in America: January 22, 1973? Or should pro-lifers celebrate the day of the greatest victory for the unborn: June 24, 2022? That’s a question that pro-life leaders, organizations, and ordinary people have been mulling over for the past year, ever since the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision overturned the status quo toward abortion in America.
Granted, January 22nd has been a date worth remembering for many years. For those of us who oppose legalized abortion, the day on which the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions were handed down is certainly a tragic one. Celebrating the March for Life on that date has provided us with an annual reminder of the great suffering these decisions have caused to millions of women and men, as well as their lost children. Americans from all over the country have come to DC to join the March for Life for decades. They have listened to pro-life speakers, marched past the Supreme Court building, and returned home, energized by the joyful atmosphere of the march. That’s why similar marches have spread to states, regions, and even other countries.
Supporters of abortion probably thought the March for Life was simply an annoyance when it began in 1974. But how long can anyone ignore the presence of hundreds of thousands of Americans marching through the nation’s capital? Busloads of young people attend every single year, despite wintry conditions and a virtual media blackout of the event.
There are many ways that someone can act to help bring an end to abortion, such as providing practical help for needy moms, encouraging legislative action, and educating the public about the realities of abortion. But the March for Life is open to anyone who can get to Washington, DC, and walk down the street. (Wheelchairs and strollers are also welcome.)
However, when the Supreme Court overturned the legal precedents which permitted abortion, the court gave us a new date to celebrate.
That’s why the first National Celebrate Life Day was held in Washington, DC, on June 24, 2023. But unlike the March for Life, the event did not focus on educating people about the latest legal developments or walking past a government building. After all, the status of legal abortion now varies from state to state. (The current status of abortion laws in each state can be found in maps at the websites of Susan B. Anthony Pro-life America and Family Research Council.)
Most of the speakers at the first National Celebrate Life Day focused on answering one question: what should we do next? That is, now that states are no longer compelled by the Supreme Court to permit legalized abortion according to a convoluted interpretation of the Constitution, what actions should the pro-life community pursue to protect unborn children?
Not a single speaker encouraged attendees to simply be thankful that some states have passed reasonable restrictions on abortion. Instead, leaders spoke about the importance of protecting human lives in every state in the union. After all, we do not oppose abortion because it merely inconveniences unborn children: it ends their lives. Some speakers offered practical suggestions about possible next steps; see the list of speakers here, or go here to listen to the entire event.
What kind of people chose to attend this event? According to the typical pro-abortion narrative, the only people who oppose abortion are angry, old men. Interestingly, such people don’t seem to show up at pro-life events. Instead, while the turnout for this event was much smaller than a typical March for Life, the mood was cheerful and positive. Every age and race were represented, and most of those attending were young adults.
Even some of the organizations which sponsored the event are relatively young. Live Action began in 2003, Students for Life officially launched in 2006, and 40 Days for Life started in 2007.
The March for Life typically starts on the DC Mall, with both the Washington Monument and the US Capitol building in sight. But Celebrate Life Day was held on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
As is typical in Washington in the summer, there were many tourists walking around the memorial as the event was going on. While tourists were busy scaling almost 150 steps to see the famous statue of the sixteenth president of the United States, they may have overheard pro-life speakers mention Lincoln. They might have heard something about the parallels between slavery and abortion, and they might have learned about the proposal of a “Fourteenth Amendment for All”. The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which was passed three years after President Lincoln’s death, guarantees all citizens equal protection under the law. Could the amendment that gave citizenship to former slaves be the means by which we protect unborn children?
The first National Celebrate Life Day may be over. But we can hope that it won’t be the last time pro-lifers get together to thank God for good news in the battle to protect unborn children. And, God willing, we are getting closer every year to the legal recognition that all men, women, and children are created equal.
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