In 1973, a small group of pro-lifers joined a Catholic attorney named Nellie Gray for dinner. Six months prior, the U.S. Supreme Court had issued its infamous Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy the default law of every state. These advocates for the unborn were determined not to let the one-year anniversary of the decision pass without acknowledging it with a march -- a protest demanding that Congress (as Nellie put it) "pay attention to 20,000 people coming in the middle of winter to tell them to overturn Roe v. Wade." And so, the March for Life was born.
Forty-nine years later, those who believe the truth that an unborn child is a human being still march every year. Snow, shine, or freezing cold (like this year), the rabbi has blown his shofar, the students have chanted, and people have come from all across the country to stand for life.
With the U.S. Supreme Court poised to hand down a decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization,the greatest legal challenge to Roe v. Wade in over a generation, many have speculated that this year's march could have been the last. Nellie once promised, "We will be here until we overturn Roe v. Wade, and believe me, we are going to overturn Roe v. Wade." Hopefully, this is the year that promise is fulfilled.
But, as Nellie beautifully said, "the battle will not be won until the entire anti-abortion movement and every community of faith works relentlessly to establish personhood for the pre-born children... saying, 'In America, we will not tolerate this.'"
It might come as a surprise to many Americans that most countries around the globe issue at least some protections for life in the womb. Ninety-nine nations either completely outlaw abortion or only allow it when the life of the mother is at risk or in cases of rape, incest, or fetal abnormality. Thirty other countries have "soft" protections for the unborn -- mandating that a woman claim social or emotional hardship or mental health difficulties in order to abort her child legally.
In Europe, the vast majority of countries protect the unborn after the first trimester, with an additional five protecting life after 14 weeks. Worldwide, only five countries that provide protections for the unborn wait until the second trimester to do so: Iceland (22 weeks), the Netherlands (24 weeks), New Zealand (20 weeks), Singapore (24 weeks), and Sweden (18 weeks).
And then, there is the dirty half-dozen -- the six nations around the world where an abortionist can kill a child in the womb at any point during a woman's pregnancy for any reason. Tragically, the United States is on this list.
The United States, Canada, and South Korea's abortion laws are on par with those of human rights violators North Korea, China, and Vietnam. This is to our shame, as the United States fails to protect her youngest, most vulnerable citizens -- babies in the womb. In Nellie's words, "This is the land of the free, the place to come for advancement... How is it that a country built on this would kill babies?"
On the somber anniversary of Roe, President Biden and Vice President Harris renewed their commitment to codifying this horrific Supreme Court decision into law. Failing to see the irony of referring to a "right" that allows an abortionist to kill a mother's child, Biden and Harris stated, "We must ensure that our daughters and granddaughters have the same fundamental rights that their mothers and grandmothers fought for and won on this day, 49 years ago...."
It is clear, as Nellie said, "on this basic subject of life... there is no compromise. You're either for or against it... There is no neutrality and there is no in between. You can't have a little bit of abortion. You can't be a little bit pregnant. You must understand that life must be protected in total."
Thankfully, despite having a pro-abortion president and administration, there is hope for America to protect life in total. In 2021, over 300 pieces of pro-life legislation were introduced at the state level. Eight states enacted protections against chemical abortion for women and their babies. Oklahoma and Texas passed total protections for the unborn that would go into effect in the event Roe is overturned. Arizona and South Dakota's legislatures voted to protect babies in the womb from discrimination based on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. Arkansas and Oklahoma both passed legislation protecting life beginning at conception. Texas' Heartbeat Act has faced and beaten legal challenges -- and more importantly, saved over 10,000 babies so far.
This year, we must build on the wins achieved in 2021 and defend life to the fullest extent possible. State legislators are already off and running, introducing pro-life legislation to make 2022 an even better year for life, and the U.S. Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade. America has the opportunity to lead the world in protecting the vulnerable.
Let us pray that this is the year Roe will be overturned and life is defended without compromise -- because what we are fighting for is not something hypothetical -- it is the lives of beautiful little babies whose only voice is our own.
For more, read FRC's publication "U.S. Abortion Law in Comparison with the Globe."