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Insights & Opinions | January 31, 2013

Marching to remember injustice

Abortion

First-time participant in the March for Life reflects on the reason thousands take to Washington's cold streets instead of praying at home in comfort

Pro-life rally in Minnesota. (AP Photo/Brainerd Dispatch, Steve Kohls)

On Jan. 25, we crammed the Capitol's streets, braved blustery flurries, and inched our way from the National Mall to the U.S. Supreme Court, signs held high to protest 40 years of Roe v. Wade. Some teens bounced in place and tirelessly chanted, cheerleader-style, "We love babies, yes we do! We love babies how 'bout you?" Others huddled together, cradling rosaries in gloved hands, reciting Hail Mary prayers. Almost everyone carried some sort of sign.

As a first-time participant in the March for Life, the sheer size of the 400,000-strong crowd was mind-boggling. Prior to attending the March, I didn't have any expectations beyond my vague notion that pro-life activists are embarrassingly vitriolic. But I did not see obnoxious protesters waving graphic signs. Instead, one of the predominant messages was kindness, both to the unborn and to the men and women wounded by abortion. Indeed, the positive tone of the event was remarkable. At the Family Research Council's ProLifeCon prior to the March, Dr. Russell Moore, dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, challenged pro-life leaders to remember the testimony of the apostle Paul, and other great champions of the faith, who came to Christ after years lived in violent opposition to the gospel.

"We speak with justice and mercy to the other side, knowing that hearts can change," he said.

Once at the rally, the cold didn't seem to dampen the crowd's spirits, but I couldn't help wondering why we were there, losing feeling in our fingers, after 40 years of defeat. Will one more march on the Supreme Court really change the hearts and minds of politicians? After all, we could be praying from the comfort of our homes.

Last Friday, I learned that our March is not wholly political; it is also a symbolic witness. It is the heritage of those who seek justice, and it represents decades of untold horrors and quiet healing. Our physical presence in the Capitol pales in comparison to the millions of children whose lives have ended since the Roe v. Wade decision. It would take 137 marches as large as this year's crowd to represent the 55 million lives taken in 40 years of legalized murder.

Or, consider that this year's participants slightly outnumber the 363,705 African-American babies killed by abortion each year. Can you imagine our government killing all the March for Life participants because our presence in Washington was inconvenient or unplanned? And yet, each year 1,1 million babies are legally killed.

I came to the March wondering, "What's the point?" I left understanding that injustice must not be forgotten.

Taylor Eckel, a student at Patrick Henry College, is an intern with CareNet, a national organization serving more than 1,100 affiliate pregnancy centers.